1984 Miss America Pageant
Pageant Results > Miss America Pageant > 1984
Miss America 1984: Vanessa Williams, Miss New York
Miss America 1984: Suzette Charles, Miss New Jersey
1st runner-up: Suzette Charles, Miss New Jersey
2nd runner-up: Pam Battles, Miss Alabama
3rd runner-up: Wanda Gayle Geddie, Miss Mississippi
4th runner-up: Pamela Helean Rigas, Miss Ohio
The 1984 Miss America Pageant was an historic one, producing the first two black Miss America winners. During the televised pageant, Vanessa Williams, Miss New York, was named Miss America 1984. She had won the swimsuit and talent competitions earlier in the week and was favored to win.
In the swimsuit competition, Vanessa wore a white one-piece swimsuit and in the talent competition, she performed a popular vocal of “Happy Days Are Here Again”.
In the evening gown competition, in the preliminary competitions, she wore a Grecian style white gown with her hair worn up in a soft upswept hair style. On the final night of the pageant’s broadcast, she switched to a lilac chiffon mermaid style gown enhanced with floral beading and a spray of chiffon on one shoulder.
Her first runner-up, Suzette Charles, Miss New Jersey, was also black and was a talented singer who also had won a talent competition that week singing “Kiss Me in the Rain”.
During Vanessa’s reign, a scandal developed when a men’s magazine obtained nude pictures Vanessa which she had poses for before entering the pageant. She had not signed a release and had been told she would be unrecognizable in the photos which would be shot in silhouette. The magazine published the photos without her permission.
Due to the graphic nature of the photos, the Miss America Board asked the titleholder to resign. A massive scandal ensued and Williams resigned her title during a press conference which aired on live television nationwide.
Her first runner-up, assumed the title, making Suzette Charles, Miss New Jersey, the second black Miss America and the second titleholder for 1984. At the conclusion of her short reign, Charles crowned her successor, Miss America 1985, Sharlene Wells, Miss Utah.
In 2016, the Miss America Pageant invited Vanessa Williams back to the pageant to serve as its head judge, formally apologized to her, and reinstated her a Miss America 1984. Both titleholders retain their titles of Miss America 1984.