Vanessa Williams (born March 18, 1963) is an American actress, singer, and fashion designer. She initially gained recognition as the first African American recipient of the Miss America title when she was crowned Miss America 1984 in September 1983. Several weeks before the end of her reign, however, a scandal arose when Penthouse magazine bought and published unauthorized nude photographs of Williams. Williams was pressured to relinquish her title, and was succeeded by the first runner-up, Miss New Jersey 1983, Suzette Charles. Thirty-two years later, in September 2015, Williams served as head judge for the Miss America 2016 pageant. At the beginning of the event, Miss America CEO Sam Haskell made a public apology to Williams for the events of 1984.

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  • Vanessa Williams (born March 18, 1963) is an American actress, singer, and fashion designer. She initially gained recognition as the first African American recipient of the Miss America title when she was crowned Miss America 1984 in September 1983. Several weeks before the end of her reign, however, a scandal arose when Penthouse magazine bought and published unauthorized nude photographs of Williams. Williams was pressured to relinquish her title, and was succeeded by the first runner-up, Miss New Jersey 1983, Suzette Charles. Thirty-two years later, in September 2015, Williams served as head judge for the Miss America 2016 pageant. At the beginning of the event, Miss America CEO Sam Haskell made a public apology to Williams for the events of 1984. (en)
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  • Miss America 1984 (en)
  • Miss New York1983 (en)
  • Miss Syracuse 1983 (en)
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  • Williams in 2004.
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  • [I had] no idea that winning a Miss America title in 1983 would actually be so significant to people that had lived through the civil rights movement. And that to me was such an honor but also something that I had no idea the weight, and that there might be some bad consequences. To have white people who wanted to kill me because I was black and to have death threats against my family because they felt that I was tarnishing the Miss America crown because I was a black person. So it was an incredible time.
  • " 'I had so much trouble being taken seriously not only because I was a beauty queen but a scandalous beauty queen on top of that,' she said, later adding in relation to Gershwin’s reaction: 'Having that perception of me was when I realized what an obstacle I’d have.' "
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  • —Vanessa Williams in 1984
  • —Vanessa Williams in 2016
  • —Vanessa Williams in 2011
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  • 1983 (xsd:integer)
  • 1984 (xsd:integer)
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  • Vanessa Williams (born March 18, 1963) is an American actress, singer, and fashion designer. She initially gained recognition as the first African American recipient of the Miss America title when she was crowned Miss America 1984 in September 1983. Several weeks before the end of her reign, however, a scandal arose when Penthouse magazine bought and published unauthorized nude photographs of Williams. Williams was pressured to relinquish her title, and was succeeded by the first runner-up, Miss New Jersey 1983, Suzette Charles. Thirty-two years later, in September 2015, Williams served as head judge for the Miss America 2016 pageant. At the beginning of the event, Miss America CEO Sam Haskell made a public apology to Williams for the events of 1984. (en)
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  • Vanessa Williams and Miss America (en)
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  • Vanessa Williams (en)
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