From Halle Berry to Oprah Winfrey – Famous Pageant Winners and Losers
Hailed by 60 Minutes as “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World”, Aishwarya Rai earned the titles of Miss India and Miss World 1994 before becoming the eading lady of Bollywood and an international sensation.
In 1994, she entered the Femina Miss India pageant where she placed second to Sushmita Sen. With Sen representing India at the Miss Universe pageant, Aishwarya’s duties as the first alternate included representing India in the rival Miss World Pageant, held that year in Sun City, South Africa.
There, Rai became an immediate crowd favourite… [Read more…]
Halle Berry – Miss Ohio USA 1986
- 2002 Academy Award: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Monster’s Ball
- View Monster’s Ball DVD
- Halle Berry movies
Oprah Winfrey: Before becoming an Emmy Award-winning television talk show host, Oprah Winfrey won the 1971 Miss Fire Prevention and Miss Black Tennessee titles.
When asked what she would do with a million dollars, Winfrey
delighted the judges when she blurted out, “I’d be a spending fool!” She competed in the Miss Black America Pageant, but failed to make the finals.
Oprah began her career in broadcasting at Nashville’s radio-WVOL while she was in high school. At age, she became the youngest person and the first African-American woman to anchor the news at Nashville’s WTVF-TV.
In 1985, the A.M. Chicago Show which she hosted, was re-named The Oprah Winfrey Show – which became the highest rated talk show in television history. That year, she made her acting debut as “Sofia” in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple. She was nominated for both Academy Award® and Golden Globe honors.
In 1988, she started Harpo Studios, her production company, based in in Chicago, which now produces The Oprah Winfrey Show. In 2006, she fulfilled her dream of founding an elite private educational program for impoverished African girls when she founded The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy. [Read more…]
Gretchen Carlson – Miss America 1989
This high school valedictorian and Stanford University student who had also studied at Oxford University in England, Carlson was chosen as Miss American 1989. Competing as Miss Minnesota, she is the only classical violinist to win and is credited with being one of the brightest titleholders ever. Carlson began her broadcasting career as a political reporter for WRIC-TV in Richmond, Virginia. She then served as a weekend anchor and reporter for KXAS-TV in Dallas, TX, was an anchor and reporter at WOIO-TV in Cleveland, OH, and for WCPO-TV in Cincinnati. She went on to serve as a news correspondent for the CBS News and co-anchor of the CBS Saturday Early Show.
Gretchen’s work as a television journalist has been honored by three American Women in Radio and Television National Awards (Gracie Awards),including awards for her coverage of domestic violence, daycare security, and best network feature.
Sharon Stone – Miss Crawford County 1976
Screen queen Sharon Stone, of Basic Instinct fame, honed her instincts for performing in small town pageants where she won the titles Saegertown’s Spring Festival Queen and 1976 Miss Crawford County. When a Miss Pennsylvania Pageant judge suggested she try modeling, she contracted with the Eileen Ford Agency and her career was launched.
Stone eventually switched to acting, starring in Basic Instinct, Sliver, and Intersection, and rapidly becoming one of the highest paid actresses in film history.
• View Sharon Stone movies
Vanessa Williams – Miss America 1984
Vanessa Williams Miss America 1984, the first African-American woman ever to win the coveted title, was a stand-out who won both the swimsuit and talent competitions at the national competition. After her historic victory, during her reign, she was asked to resign when Penthouse magazine published sexually-explicit photos she had posed for earlier.
Despite initially appearing to be ruined by scandal, she rebounded and achieved fame as a recording artist with her debut album, The Right Stuff. It was followed by four hits: Dreamin, Darling I, He Got the Look which earned her first three Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist. Vanessa’s album, Colors of the Wind, won an Academy Award, Golden Globe Award and a Grammy Award for Best Song in a Motion Picture. She has conquered Broadway, starring as the lead in Kiss of the Spider Woman, and films. In 1996 she starred opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in the action film, Eraser.
• Vanessa Williams: ABC TV bio
• View Vanessa Williams movies
• Purchase Vanessa Williams music
Diane Sawyer: Chosen as America’s Junior Miss 1963, Diane Sawyer used her pageant scholarship money to attend Wellesley College, worked as a weathergirl, then press aide to Richard Nixon during his presidency and after his Watergate resignation. In 1981 she was named co-anchor of the CBS Morning News. Initially dismissed by some critics as an unqualified beauty queen, Sawyer earned high marks and was hired as a Sixty Minutes correspondent, co-anchor of Day One, Turning Point, and, finally, ABC’s PrimeTime Live. Sawyer ranks as one of the highest paid newswomen in television history. [Read more…]
Raquel Welch – Miss San Diego
Raquel Welsh: In her era, Raquel Welch was considered to be one of the world’s sexiest women. Her titles included Miss Photogenic, Miss La Jolla, Miss Contour, Miss San Diego and 1957 Miss Fairest of the Fair. The judges placed her only second in the Miss Southern California Pageant. Her film credits include the memorable role of prehistoric babe in One Million B.C. Her career break came when she appeared with Mae West in the film, Myra Breckinridge. On Broadway, she starred in Woman of the Year and in Victor/Victoria. Her business acumen has been demonstrated through her highly successful line of Raquel Welch wigs.
- 1974 Golden Globe award for Best Motion Picture Actress in a Musical or Comedy for The Three Musketeers
- 1987 Golden Globe nomination for Right to Die
- View Raquel Welch movies
Jeri Ryan – Miss Illinois 1989
Jeri Lynn Ryan competed as Miss Illinois in the 1990 Miss America Pageant. There, during the evening gown competition the gorgeous contestants stepped onstage wearing a low-pluging blue evening gown that slightly resembled the ‘Toon character, Jessica Rabbit (Reporters at the pageant were overheard saying, “Look! It’s Jessica Rabbit!”). She handily won the swimsuit competition and placed as 4th runner-up.
A graduate of Northwestern University, Jeri was a national merit scholar. She has enjoyed a successful television career, appearing numerous shows including: The O.C., Dark Skies, Melrose Place, and Murder, She Wrote. She starred as the ubber sexy Borg character, “Seven of Nine,” in Star Trek: Voyager and later later as teacher Ronnie Cook in the hit series Fox TV’s Boston Public.
• View Jeryi Ryan DVDs
Heather Whitestone – Miss America 1995
Heather Whitestone, Miss America 1995, is the first woman with a physical disability ever to win the coveted national title. As millions of American viewers watched by live television, the gutsy Miss Alabama performed a classical ballet to Via Delarosa — music she could not hear — by memorizing the music’s beats; and then engaging in a live interviewed with co-host Regis Philbin by lip-reading his questions, Heather Whitestone became the first profoundly-deaf woman to be named Miss America.
A beloved titleholder and inspiration to millions of Americans, Heather successfully promoted her platform, S.T.A.R.S. (“Success Through Action and Realization of your dreams) throughout her reign. She also becomes the first Miss America ever to be featured on a Barbara Walters’ television special. [Read more…]
Nancy O’Dell – Miss South Carolina 1987
Nancy O’Dell, Miss South Carolina 1987: A marketing major and sorority girl at Clemson University, Nancy Humphries (O’Dell) won the Miss South Carolina Pageant in 1987 and competed in the Miss America Pageant, where she performed as a vocalist in the talent competition. She did not place among in the semi-finals. Nancy went on to enter the field of television journalism, where she served as a co-anchor for several stations in Miami and Los Vegas. O’Dell has co-hosted several Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants. This spring Nancy, when longtime host Mary Hart retires from Entertainment Tonight, O’Dell will assume her position. She is married to a television executive and has a baby daughter.
Marilyn Van Derbur, Miss America 1958, remains one the most respected Miss Americas ever. Her road to the national crown was serendipity,
according to the book Miss America: In Pursuit of the Crown”. According to the book, Marilyn Van Derbur was literally drafted into the Miss University of Colorado Pageant by her sorority sisters when she was called out of a meeting for a long distance phone call. Marilyn nearly panicked.
In 2003, Miss America 1958, Marilyn Van Derbur, publishes “Miss America By Day”, her account of growing up as a victim of sexual abuse. The revelation that a tremendously respected former Miss America had been the victim of incest is met with a huge outpouring of public sympathy – and a flood of contact from women across the country with similar stories. Overnight, Van Derbur becomes an advocate on the issue and an inspirational model of hope for sexual abuse survivors worldwide.
Bridgette Wilson-Sampras – Miss Teen USA 1990
Bridgette won the 1990 Miss Teen USA title representing Oregon (she was the second contestant from the state to win the national title. Her early acting career began with her appeared in Saved by the Bell and Billy Madison. She quickly moved on to the big screen where she played Arnold Schwarzenegger’s daughter in the movie Last Action Hero, Mortal Kombat, Love Stinks, Shop Girl, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and The Wedding Planner with Jennifer Lopez.
In 2000, she married tennis star Pete Sampras, with whom she has two sons, Christian and Ryan.
• See Bridgette Wilson movies