Famous Pageant Winners

Famous Pageant Winners

From Halle Berry to Oprah Winfrey - Famous Pageant Winners and Losers

Famous Pageant Winners  |   Famous 1  |  Famous 2  |  Famous 3  |  Famous 4  |  Famous 5 


Aishwarya Rai - Miss World 1994

Miss World 1994 Aishwarya Rai passes on the crownAishwarya 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 - Miss Ohio USA 1986Halle 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 - Miss Black Tennessee 1971

Oprah Winfrey - Miss Fire Prevention 1971Oprah 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. 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.

View Sharon Stone movies


Vanessa Williams - Miss America 1984 

Vanessa WilliamsVanessa 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...

pageant winners and history

Diane Sawyer - America's Junior Miss 1963

Diane Sawyer America's Junior Miss 1963Diane Sawyer America's Junior Miss 1963Diane 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: Raquel Welch 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.

Gretchen Carlson - Miss America 1989

Gretchen Carlson Miss America 1989This high school valedictorian and Stanford University student who had also studied at Oxford University in England, Gretchen Carlson was chosen as Miss American 1989.  Competing as Miss Minnesota, she is the only classical violinist to win the Miss America and is credited with being one of the brightest titleholders ever. Before being named co-anchor of Fox's live morning show Fox & Friends, cable TV's top-rated morning program, Carlson has served 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 ... [Read more...]

Jeri Ryan - Miss Illinois 1989

Jeri Ryan, Miss IllinoisJeri 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.

Jeri Ryan     Jeri Ryan

View Jeryi Ryan DVDs

Kelly Hu

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.

View Kelly Hu movies

Lara Dutta - Miss Universe® 2002

The 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

Heather Whitestone Miss America 1994Heather 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

Miss America 1971 Phyllis GeorgePhyllis 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 - 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.

She is married to Mark Stienes, reporter for Entertainment Tonight.

Lindsay Bloom

Bloom, 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

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

Mary Frann won the 1961 America's Junior Miss title before going on to star as Joanna Loudon on the hit sitcom Newhart.

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 1957

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.

More about Marilyn Van Derbur

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. Bridgette went into acting  and appeared on Saved By The Bell, Billy Madison, the Arnold Schwarzenegger film, Last Action HeroMortal 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

Named, 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.

View Michelle Yeoh movies

Michelle Yeoh - Miss Malaysia 1983  Michelle Yeoh - Miss Malaysia 1983  Michelle Yeoh - Miss Malaysia 1983

Paula Zahn - Miss Teenage America 1973

Paula ZahnAfter 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.

Paula Zahn - Bio - CNN  

Kathie Lee Gifford -Maryland's Junior Miss

Kathie Lee Gifford with Regis and Miss America 1991, Marjorie VincentBefore rising to TV fame as star of Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, Kathie Lee Gifford represented Maryland in the America's Junior Miss Pageant.

She was quietly disqualified when she inadvertently broke the rules by chatting with a man in public. Reeeeege?!

Kathie Lee Gifford music CDs

America's Junior Miss 1974 - Karen Morris

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

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

   Cloris Leachman 

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.

Imelda Marcos

Before reigning as First Lady of the Philippines by the side of Ferdinand Marcos, Imelda Romualdez reigned as Miss Manilla 1953.

Ali MacGraw

Ali McGraw   Ali McGraw      Ali McGraw   Ali McGraw

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.

Ali McGrawMacGraw'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.

Vera Miles

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).


View Vera Miles movies

Shawn Weatherly - Miss Universe 1980

Miss Universe 1980 Shawn WeatherlyShawn 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.

Susan Anton

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.

Jayne Kennedy

The former NFL Today co-host broke racial barriers when she competed as Miss Ohio in the 1970 Miss USA Pageant.

Anita Bryant

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.

Loni Anderson

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 MobleyMary Ann Mobley and husband Gary Collins co-host the Miss America Pageant - 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.

View Mary Ann Mobley movies

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.

View Marla Maples biography

Mary Hart

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 Herring

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


Famous Pageant Winners  |   Famous 1  |  Famous 2  |  Famous 3  |  Famous 4  |  Famous 5 

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