Famous Pageant Winners
From Halle Berry to Oprah Winfrey - Famous Pageant Winners and Losers
Aishwarya Rai, Miss World 1994, is best known as a international film superstar and "the most beautiful woman in the world." 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
Halle Berry's pageant titles include: Miss Teen All American 1985, Miss Ohio-USA 1986, first runner-up to Miss USA® 1986, and 4th runner-up to Miss World 1986. She won the coveted role of Queen in the Alex Hailey mini-series, Queen, on the TV series Knots Landing and Living Dolls, and starred in the movies Jungle Fever and The Flintstones. She is the first African-American woman ever to win an Academy Award for her performance in the film, Monster's ball in 2002. [Read more...]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. Her The Oprah Winfrey Show became the highest rated talk show in television history. In 1985, 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. [Read more...]
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.
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. In 1996 she starred opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in the action film, Eraser. [Read more...]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.
Jeri Ryan - Miss Illinois 1989
Jeri Lynn Ryan competed as Miss Illinois in the 1990 Miss America Pageant. There, resembling the 'Toon character, Jessica Rabbit, she 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 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.
Kelly Hu, the former Miss Teen USA of Chinese-Hawaiian lineage, has achieved
success in the entertainment field, starring in Martial Law opposite Sammo Hung.
Lara Dutta - Miss Universe® 2002The elegant Miss Universe® 2002 from India has gone on to enjoy film success in her native countries famous Bollywood.
• View Lara Dutta movies
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...]
Phyllis George, Miss America 1971, who won the 1971 as Miss Texas, was the only winner to drop her crown on live television.
She went on to become the first successful female sports anchor (NFL Today) and starred on Candid Camera, People, and CBS's The Morning News. She later served as First Lady of Kentucky with (now ex-) husband, John Y. Brown.
Julie Bryan Moran - America's Junior Miss 1980
Julie Bryan Moran was named America's Junior Miss 1980 before graduating magna cum laude from the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism.
Her broad career in television and journalism has included Wide World of Sports, Movie Time for E! and NBA Inside Stuff; and Entertainment Tonight.
Deborah Norville - Georgia's Junior Miss 1976
Norville, the Inside Edition anchor who was embroiled in controversy when she replaced Jane Pauley on Today, was Georgia's Junior Miss in the 1976 America's Junior Miss Pageant.
Leanza Cornett - Miss America 1992
Leanza Cornett, Miss America 1992, who was the first Miss Florida to
win the Miss America title, has appeared as a reporter on Entertainment Tonight, co-hosted numerous shows including Lifetime Network's
New Attitudes, and starred in Barefoot in the Park.
Lindsay BloomBloom, the 4th runner-up at Miss International, achieved fame playing sexy blonds on TV sitcoms: Daisy on The Dukes of Hazards, Ray Krebb's girlfriend on Dallas, and Vega$. Later, she dyed her trademark blond tresses brunette to play Stacy Keach's sidekick, Velda, on Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer.
Delta Burke - Miss Florida 1973
One of the best known "losers" at the Miss America Pageant, Delta competed as Miss Florida in the 1974 contest. She failed to make the top ten after performing her British dramatic recital about soon-to-be-executed Queen Anne Boleyn, with a Southern accent.
Later, she trademarked the role of former beauty queen as Suzanne Sugarbaker on the hit series, Designing Women, and starred in Filthy Rich and Love and Curses and All That Jazz.
Delta's other pageant titles included Miss Florida Flame, Miss Veteran's Day, Miss Orlando Action Princess, and Miss All-American Girl.
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.
Jamie Nicole Dudney - Miss Tennessee 1993
Miss Tennessee 1993 now appears as Georgia in the daytime soap, As the World Turns.
Bobbie Eakes - Miss Georgia 1981
Eakes, who competed as Miss Georgia in the 1982 Miss America Pageant, won the role of Macy on The Bold and the Beautiful.
Mary Frann - America's Junior Miss 1961
She attended Northwestern University and founded the America's Junior Miss Council in 1995. Frann died in 1998.
Tiffani-Amber Thiessen - Miss Junior America
Thiessen parlayed her titles, Miss Junior America and winner of the 'Teen Magazine Model Search, into a successful television career. The actresses roles include Saved by the Bell and Valerie Malone on Beverly Hills 90210 (She replaced Shannen Doherty).
Gina Tolleson - Miss World 1990
Gina's titles include Miss South Carolina, Miss World USA, and Miss World 1990. She enjoys an entertainment career and is married to actor Alan Thicke.
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.
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 1990Bridgette won the 1990 Miss Teen USA title representing Oregon (she was the second contestant from the state to win the national title. Bridgette went into acting and appeared on Saved By The Bell, Billy Madison, the Arnold Schwarzenegger film, Last Action Hero, Mortal Kombat, Love Stinks, Shop Girl, I Know What You Did Last Summer and The Wedding Planner.
In 2000, she married tennis star Pete Sampras, with whom she has two sons, Christian and Ryan.
• See Bridgette Wilson movies
Michelle Yeoh - Miss Malaysia 1983
Miss Malaysia in 1983, most Americans know
her as Pierce Brosnan's sidekick, Chinese secret agent Wai Lin,
in the James Bond flick, Tomorrow Never Dies. But the
former Miss Malaysia (1983) is known throughout Asia as a kung-fu
queen who has starred in nine movies including the mega-hit,
Police Story III: Supercop. And, yes, she performs her
own dangerous stunts.
Paula Zahn - Miss Teenage America 1973
After competing in numerous pageants and making the finals of the 1973 Miss Teenage America Pageant, Zahn entered television journalism, wracking up credits on The Health Show, ABC's World News This Morning, and CBS This Morning with Harry Smith.
She now anchors the
CNN news program Paul Zahn Now, which focusing
on exposing intolerance and social injustice.
Kathie Lee Gifford -Maryland's Junior Miss
to TV fame as star of Live with Regis and Kathie Lee,
Kathie Lee Gifford represented Maryland in the America's Junior Miss Pageant.
Karen Morris Gowdy - America's Junior Miss 1974
Karen Morris was crowned America's Junior Miss of 1974. She graduated from the University of Wyoming and married Curt Gowdy Jr. Karen's career in acting has included playing Dr. Faith Coleridge for almost a decade on the Emmy-winning Ryan's Hope.
Cloris Leachman studied drama at Northwestern University before competing in the 1946 Miss America Pageant as Miss Chicago where she was named a semifinalist. Although Cloris failed to win that national title, she used her scholarship earnings to study drama with Elia Kazan.
Leachman became a respected actress who has been nominated for over 20 Emmy awards, won four Emmy awards, and earned the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film, The Last Picture Show.
Leachman's dozens of credits include the hit TV series The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Texasville, Kiss Me Deadly, and Danielle Steel's Fine Things.
Before reigning as First Lady of the Philippines by the side of Ferdinand Marcos, Imelda Romualdez reigned as Miss Manilla 1953.
MacGraw, a model and contestant in a "prettiest waitress" pageant in 1957, achieved overnight fame playing Ryan O'Neal's lover dying from leukemia in 1970's hit film, Love Story. The role earned her an Academy Award nomination for best Actress and a Golden Globe award for Best Actress in a Drama.
MacGraw's film career has including playing the leading lady to some of Hollywood's greatest actors. MacGraw starred in Goodbye, Columbus (1969) for which she won a Golden Globe award for "New Female Star of the Year", The Getaway (1972) with Steve McQueen, Convoy (1978 with Earnest Borgnine, Players (1979), China Rose (1983) with George C. Scott, and The Winds of War (1983) with Robert Mitchum.
Equally well known for her romantic life, MacGraw married film producer Robert Evans in 1971. After falling in love with co-star Steve McQueen during the filming of The Getaway, she divorced Evans and married McQueen. They divorced in 1978.
Although her career lost momentum after the marriage, she later returned to the spotlight to appear in Glam (1997) and Natural Causes (1994) and to produce her best-selling yoga video, Ali MacGraw: Yoga Mind & Body.
She won the 1948 Miss America swimsuit competition, but placed only third to a marimba-playing Minnesota farm girl (BeBe Shopp), who won the crown.
Still, Miles went on to enjoy a successful acting career, appearing on television's Marcus Welby and Kojak, and in numerous films including the Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) for which she became famous, and The Wrong Man (1957) with Henry Fonda. Miles was a regular leading lady in John Wayne films including The Searchers (1956),The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) and Hellfighters (1968).
Shawn Weatherly - Miss Universe 1980
Shawn Weatherly, student at Clemson University and a Delta Delta Delta sorority sister, won the 1980 Miss South Carolina, Miss USA and 1980 Miss Universe titles by a landslide.
She became fifth Miss USA to win the international crown and was a hugely popular winner. Shawn moved into acting, where she starred as one of the swimsuit-clad lifeguards on Baywatch, served as a diving host (even swimming with sharks) on Oceanquest, and then had a starring role in Police Academy 3: Back in Training.
Weatherly is now married, with two children.
Anton nearly won the Miss America title at age 18, when she competed as Miss California. After winning the talent competition singing Happy Days Are Here Again, she placed as second runner-up. Anton then contracted as the Muriel Cigar Girl, and eventually starred in Mel & Susan Together, Presenting Susan Anton, Cliffhangers, Baywatch, and in the movies Spring Fever, Cannonball Run II, and Goldengirl with James Coburn.
The former NFL Today co-host broke racial barriers when she competed as Miss Ohio in the 1970 Miss USA Pageant.
Miss Oklahoma 1959 and second runner-up to Miss America 1959 (Mary Ann Mobley), Anita achieved fame as the quintessential patriotic performer and spokesperson for the Florida orange juice industry. She later became embroiled in scandal after taking a public stand against gay rights.
Before the busty blond dazzled fans on WKRP Cincinnati and married Bert Reynolds, Loni was a busty brunette Miss Roseville in the Miss Minnesota Pageant.
Bridgette Wilson Sampras
Bridgette, Miss Teen Oregon 1990, won the title of Miss Teen USA 1990. Her early acting career began with her appeared in Saved by the Bell. She quickly moved on to the big screen where she played Arnold Schwarzenegger’s daughter in the movie Last Action Hero (playing ), Mortal Kombat, and The Wedding Planner with Jennifer Lopez. Married to tennis star Pete Sampras in 2000, she is the mother of their two sons.
Mary Ann Mobley - Miss America 1959
Mobley, Miss Mississippi 1958, won the 1959 Miss America title after she switched from a prim aria to a mock strip tease in the talent competition.
She later appeared in two Elvis Presley movies, and co-hosted the Miss America Pageant with husband Gary Collins.
Marla Maples (Trump)
Before becoming the second Mrs. Donald Trump, Marla was named Miss Photogenic and placed fourth in Georgia's Miss Teen Pageant. In 2007, she was hired to co-star in the television series, The Ex-Wives Club.
Famed for her insured legs and perennial perkiness, the anchor of Entertainment Tonight competed as Mary Johanna Harum, Miss South Dakota, in the 1970 Miss America Pageant. She made the top ten, but lost to Phyllis George.
Hart later co-hosted PM Magazine and co-hosted with Regis Philbin before moving on to E.T. fame.
Cheryl Lynn Herring
Cheryl, who competed as Miss Virginia and 4th runner-up in the 1977 Miss USA® Pageant. She later appeared in the ABC soap opera, General Hospital, as Lucy Quartermaine Coe.
Laura, the first Latina to win the Miss USA®title (1985), went on to marry a European count and star in the daytime television series, Sunset Beach, as Carla on General Hospital, and in the sexy film, The Forbidden Dance
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