Her reign as Miss America was historic, but short-lived and she returned to the Miss America stage Sunday night for a memorable moment.
52-year-old Vanessa Williams was crowned as the first African-American Miss America back in 1983, but was forced to resign just months later after posing nude for Penthouse magazine. Though she claims she never gave the magazine consent to release the photographs, the pageant’s executive committee unanimously decided that she needed to step down from her post. She has since then been the only Miss America title holder that was asked to resign.
However, Williams’ career was never hindered by the scandal as she went on to establish a very successful career in music, television, and movies accumulating multiple Grammy’s, Emmy’s and Tony Awards.
After Williams performed a song to open the 2016 Miss America competition, she was invited to the stage by the pageant’s executive chairman Sam Haskell, who issued the following apology for the way the pageant treated Williams back in 1984.
“I want to apologize for anything that was said or done that made you feel any less of the Miss America you are and the Miss America you always will be.”
Considering Haskell was not involved in the pageant during Williams’ reign, the apology was rather “unexpected, but beautiful” as Williams described it, and it stole the show. The crowd cheered for a teary-eyed Williams who graciously accepted the apology and told her fans that she did the best she could during her reign.
Now, Betty Cantrell of Georgia is the new beholder of the crown and we wish her all the best during her reign!