Famous Pageant Winners

Famous Pageant Winners

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

Famous Pageant Winners  |   Famous 2  |  Famous 3 

Pageant winners and history


Phyllis George - Miss America 1971

Miss America 1971 Phyllis GeorgePhyllis George, Miss America 1971, who won the 1971 title as Miss Texas, was the only winner to drop her crown on live television. 

She played "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" on the piano during the talent competition - while staring at the judges and audience with a huge smile while never looking at the keyboard. phyllis george miss america 1971 on runwayThe former cheerleader easily won the swimsuit competition wearing a yellow swimsuit.

During her first press conference as Miss America 1971, she charmed the media by chatting about her pet crab "Herman" who she had brought with her to the pageant.

Known for her gorgeous smile and ease chatting before the camera, Phyllis - not surprisingly - 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.

phyllis george miss america 1971 magazine cover phyllis george miss america 1971 People magazine cover phyllis george miss america 1971 Ladies Circle magazine cover


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.


Kelly Hu - Miss Teen USA 1985

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


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


Delta Burke - Miss Florida 1973

delta burke miss florida at miss america pageantOne 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.


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  


Cloris Leachman - Miss Chicago 1946

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.


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


Leanza Cornett - Miss America 1992

Leanza Cornett, Miss America 1992, became the first Miss Florida to win the Miss America title. She won the talent competition after she belted out a flawless performance of the Broadway ballad,"A New Life".

Leanza 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 was married to Mark Stienes, reporter for Entertainment Tonight.

leanza cornett at miss florida pageant leanza cornett at miss florida pageant in swimsuit leanza cornett at miss florida pageant talent competition


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.


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


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.


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

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.


Karen Morris Gowdy - America's Junior Miss 1974

America's Junior Miss 1974 - Karen MorrisKaren 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.

Nancy Stafford

After winning the Miss Florida title in 1976, Stafford won roles on The Doctors and St. Elsewhere, and as Andy Griffith’s junior law partner, Michelle Thomas, on the series, Matlock.

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.


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).


Jamie Nicole Dudney - Miss Tennessee 1993

Miss Tennessee 1993 appeared 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.

Lindsay Bloom 

Bloom, the 4th runner-up at the Miss International Pageant, 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.

Pageant winners and history

Famous Pageant Winners  |   Famous 2  |  Famous 3 

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