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The Miss America pageant has apologized to Vanessa Williams 32 years after she was forced to hand back her title.

Vanessa Williams was the first black woman to be named Miss America in 1983 but resigned after a magazine published photos of her without her consent.

“I want to apologize for anything that was said or done,” said Miss America CEO Sam Haskell.

A tearful Vanessa Williams, now 52, called the statement “unexpected” and “beautiful”.

Vanessa Williams has forged a career as an actress, with major roles in Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

She also scored a global hit in 1992 with the ballad Save the Best for Last; and her recording of Colors of the Wind from Disney’s Pocahontas soundtrack earned her a Golden Globe, a Grammy and an Oscar for best original song.

Vanessa Williams won Miss America in September 1983 but, months later, the pageant’s executive committee voted unanimously to request that she resign after Penthouse magazine published photos she had posed for several years earlier.

She remains the only title-holder who was asked to resign in the Miss America pageant’s history.

Vanessa Williams was invited back to the competition this year by Chairman Sam Haskell, who asked her to serve as head judge.

Before the competition started, Sam Haskell invited her on stage to receive the apology.

“I have been a close friend to this beautiful and talented lady for 32 years,” he told the audience.

“You have lived your life in grace and dignity, and never was it more evident than during the events of 1984 when you resigned.

“Though none of us currently in the organization were involved then, on behalf of today’s organization, I want to apologize to you and to your mother, Miss Helen Williams.”

Sam Haskellcontinued: “I want to apologize for anything that was said or done that made you feel any less than the Miss America you are and the Miss America you always will be.”

The audience gave Vanessa Williams a standing ovation and TV coverage showed her mother on the verge of tears.

“Thank you so much, Sam, so unexpected but so beautiful,” said the actress.

“I did the best that I could as Miss America in 1983 to 84,” Vanessa Williams said.

“On behalf of my family, my mother in particular; [publicist] Brian Edwards, who orchestrated this entire thing to bring me back; and your leadership, your integrity and you bringing this pageant back to what it ought to be. I love you. I love the girls. And I’m so honored to be back.”

Vanessa Williams then returned to her seat and helped select the new Miss America – 21-year-old Betty Cantrell of Georgia.


Desperate Housewives star Vanessa Williams has launched ReVitalistic, her own skincare line.

ReVitalistic features five products that include an anti-aging cream, firming eye serum and a skin “perfecting” peel.

Vanessa Williams, who will appear in the forthcoming TV series 666 Park Avenue, told WWD: “I’ve decided to share my secrets.”

The range will be available through QVC, the shopping network, from August 3.

Products will also be released in stores at a later date, though the stores remain unknown for the moment.

The star, who last attracted headlines after penning the autobiography You’ve Got No Idea with her mother, said he had long hoped to release a skincare line.

It had been in the works for “years”.

Vanessa Williams’ skincare line ReVitalistic features five products that include an anti-aging cream, firming eye serum and a skin “perfecting” peel

Vanessa Williams’ skincare line ReVitalistic features five products that include an anti-aging cream, firming eye serum and a skin “perfecting” peel

“Living in the moment is something I always strive to do, hectic schedule or not,” she explained.

“So, when the parts were put in motion to launch this skincare line, I knew it was something I wanted to accomplish.”

Vanessa Williams claimed that she had been very hands-on during the line’s creation.

She plucked ingredients that she had grown familiar with and incorporated them into a formula with the help of many skincare experts.

“These are the greatest hits that have worked for me as I’ve aged,” she said.

“I’ve taken proven skin care concepts and improved them. I am involved in every aspect of it, from the name, the color palette of the packing, the logo and the ingredients.

“It has been a labor of love and I have loved working on it for years until I knew it was perfect.”

The collection even has a predicted star seller – the Re-Start Skin Serum.

Each of the products will be priced between $48 and $68.

She added that the products, some of which omit a ginger scent, can be worn as primers as well as beneath foundations.

She added: “Texture matters to me whenever I put a product on my face so I’ve created rich, luxurious blends with a smooth complex giving a weightless feeling.”

Vanessa Williams added that she had struggled to find the right cosmetics to suit her skin.

“I’ve tried to age gracefully in front of the camera,” she said.

“I needed products that were effective in reversing the signs of aging, sun damage and years of travel and makeup.

“I couldn’t find anything that worked for me. So I decided to create my own.”