Vanessa L. Williams
American actress, singer and formerMiss America
Vanessa L. Williams
Vanessa Lynn Williams is an American singer, actress and former fashion model. In 1983, she became the first American woman with African American ancestry to be crowned Miss America, but a scandal arose when Penthouse magazine bought and published nude photographs of her. She relinquished her title early and was succeeded by the first runner-up, Suzette Charles of New Jersey.
Vanessa L. Williams's personal information overview.
News abour Vanessa L. Williams from around the web
PBS's <i>Soundbreaking</i>: Hank Shocklee Explains How Recording a Song is Harder Than Turning on Your iPhone
Huffington Post - 3 months
Frank Sinatra records would rarely be confused with Public Enemy records. But the thing to understand about record production, says Hank Shocklee, is that the principle is the same. Shocklee (above) is one of more than a hundred voices explaining the production mystique in Soundbreaking, an exhaustive eight-part PBS series that launches at 10 p.m. ET Monday. It was the last project of the late Sir George Martin (below), who is best known for producing the Beatles, and it ropes in artists and producers from Paul McCartney, Elton John and B.B. King to Questlove and Sheila E. Its sheer length might wear some casual music fans down, but as a look into why so many great records sounded great, it's insightful and invaluable. This isn't about how the sausage was made. This is about how Sgt. Pepper, Thriller and Fear of a Black Planet were made. Shocklee is best known for producing some of the most explosive hip-hop albums ever, when he and the aptly named Bomb Squad ...
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Huffington Post article
The 'Ugly Betty' Reunion Of Your Dreams Is Happening This Summer
Huffington Post - 11 months
Betty Suarez and the staff of Mode magazine are getting back together! Well, at least for a night. An "Ugly Betty" reunion is being organized for this summer at the ATX Television Festival in Austin, Texas, which Entertainment Weekly announced on Wednesday. America Ferrera, who won a Golden Globe for her role as "Betty," is confirmed to attend along with nine of her fellow cast mates.  EW will host and moderate the closing night event, much like it did last summer for the much-anticipated reunion of the "Gilmore Girls" cast at the festival. “I am so excited for the 'Ugly Betty' cast to be reuniting at ATX,” Ferrera said to Entertainment Weekly. “They are truly my family and we can’t wait to celebrate together.”  Ferrera will be joined by Eric Mabius, Vanessa Williams, Becki Newton, Michael Urie, Ashley Jensen, Ana Ortiz, Tony Plana, Mark Indelicato and Rebecca Romijn at the June 11 event. While further details have yet to be announced, it is likely the event will be a mod ...
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Huffington Post article
Review: Vanessa Williams, Strong and Steady, Without Taking Chances
NYTimes - about 1 year
In her concert, which opened Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series, Ms. Williams projected the persona of a hard-working, self-possessed entertainer.
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NYTimes article
Miss Colombia Offered Million Dollar Porn Contract After Pageant Loss
Huffington Post - about 1 year
The swimsuit round is about as bare as it gets in the Miss Universe pageant, but the folks at Vivid Entertainment porn studio want to pay Miss Colombia to bare it all. The adult film and entertainment company offered the pageant's first-runner up Adriadna Gutierrez a $1M dollar contract to star in a porn video in the aftermath of her widely publicized Miss Universe loss on Sunday night.  TMZ obtained the personal letter that Vivid's CEO Steve Hirsch sent to Gutierrez propositioning the idea. “You will pick your partners, the type of sex you want to have and how many movies you ultimately appear in," he wrote. The porn king also noted that "the only name people remember is Vanessa Williams" because of her nude photo shoot in Penthouse magazine.  Vivid's repertoire of stars who have appeared in their films include Teen Mom's Farrah Abraham, Pamela Anderson, and Kendra Wilkinson, according to Hollywood life.  Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez was accidentally crowned the wi ...
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Huffington Post article
Miss Colombia Offered Million Dollar Porn Contract After Pageant Loss
Huffington Post - about 1 year
The swimsuit round is about as bare as it gets in the Miss Universe pageant, but the folks at Vivid Entertainment porn studio want to pay Miss Colombia to bare it all. The adult film and entertainment company offered the pageant's first-runner up Adriadna Gutierrez a $1M dollar contract to star in a porn video in the aftermath of her widely publicized Miss Universe loss on Sunday night.  TMZ obtained the personal letter that Vivid's CEO Steve Hirsch sent to Gutierrez propositioning the idea. “You will pick your partners, the type of sex you want to have and how many movies you ultimately appear in," he wrote. The porn king also noted that "the only name people remember is Vanessa Williams" because of her nude photo shoot in Penthouse magazine.  Vivid's repertoire of stars who have appeared in their films include Teen Mom's Farrah Abraham, Pamela Anderson, and Kendra Wilkinson, according to Hollywood life.  Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez was accidentally crowned the wi ...
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Huffington Post article
Back to the Catskills for Boys & Girls Harbor
Wall Street Journal - almost 2 years
David R. Weinreb, CEO of the Howard Hughes Corp., was honored at the Boys &amp; Girls Harbor benefit, where he gave an impromptu performance of ‘On a Clear Day’ with Vanessa Williams.
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Wall Street Journal article
Vanessa Williams Sheds Light on Female-on-Female Rape
Huffington Post - over 2 years
Vanessa Williams is many things: actress, singer, model, mother. She is also one of an estimated 17.7 million American women who's been a victim of attempted or completed rape. On Oprah's Master Class, Williams revealed that she was molested by an 18-year-old when she was just 10. But what's really caught the attention of news outlets and the general public is this salacious detail: Her perpetrator was (yes) a woman. There are sound reasons why you rarely hear about female rape offenders: According to the U.S. Department of Justice, nearly 99 percent of sexual abuse offenders are male. But that hardly means women aren't capable of perpetrating sex crimes -- and in a sense, it's offensive to assume otherwise. For one, this taps into lingering stereotypes about innate female delicacy. More importantly, it assumes that because women can't typically do as much physical damage as men, this type of rape isn't as "legitimate." Yet the fallout from rape -- from PTSD to depression and substa ...
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Huffington Post article
Syracuse Beats Duke 91-89 In Overtime Thriller (VIDEO)
Huffington Post Sports - about 3 years
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Coach K said he hoped this game would live up to its billing. It did, and then some. Jerami Grant scored eight points in overtime to finish with a career-high 24 and Jim Boeheim's No. 2 Syracuse stayed unbeaten, topping Mike Krzyzewski's No. 17 Duke 91-89 on Saturday in a matchup of the two winningest coaches in Division I history. The Orange withstood a tying 3-pointer in regulation and won before a Carrier Dome record crowd of 35,446. "It was just a great game," Boeheim said after career victory No. 941. "I don't think I've ever been involved in a better game in here where both teams played at such a high level. Both teams just went after it. We've had a lot of games that have been here that are great. There's never been one as good as this one." C.J. Fair scored a career-best 28 points as Syracuse (21-0, 8-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) set a school record for consecutive wins to start a season. The Orange remained one of three undefeated teams in the nation ...
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Huffington Post Sports article
Vanessa Williams to sing anthem at Duke-Syracuse
USA Today - about 3 years
More than 35,000 fans are expected to attend the game.
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USA Today article
Baby, it’s COLD outside!
Bronx News - about 3 years
Community Board News N’ Views By Father Richard F. Gorman Chairman Community Board #12 (The Bronx) “So very nice  I’ll hold your hands; they’re just like ice. Baby, it’s cold outside!” BRONX, NEW YORK, JANUARY 8- Whether sung by Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Vanessa Williams, or Lady Antebellum, these lyrics from the song “BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE!” ring all so true as I pen this initial column for the New Year of Our Lord 2014. The weather has been extreme, to say the least, more characteristic of a polar ice cap region at either the top or the bottom of the Earth rather than the City of New York. Hopefully, the current climatic conditions are merely the appetizer, and not the main course, of what Old Man Winter is serving up for us this season! Frigid temperatures, snow and ice storms, and slippery streets aside, there are many “warm” circumstances that have bestowed more temperate moments upon us in the first two weeks of our New Year. We have a new Municipal ...
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Bronx News article
Bob Guccione in Filthy Gorgeous
Huffington Post - over 3 years
When Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione died on October 10, 2010, the obituaries dwelled on him as pornographer. That got the attention of filmmaker, Barry Avrich, a documentarian who specializes in the dramatic arc of moguls who peak and fall as a result of their own hubris: his Show Stopper told the story of theatrical producer Garth Drabinsky, for example of one larger than life figure. He also made Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project in 2011. Bob Guccione, relegated to the dust heap of porn magnate didn't cut it, and Avrich set out to find out more. The result, Filthy Gorgeous, an illuminating documentary portrait, airs on EPIX this Friday. The big reveal: Bob Guccione, whose interests also went to math and science (he created Omni Magazine), wanted to be remembered as a fine arts painter. And guess what: he could paint. Featuring interviews with his son, Bob Guccione, Jr., who going into the family business so to speak founded Spin and Gear magazines, Jane Homlish, his perso ...
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Huffington Post article
'The Trip To Bountiful' Heading To Lifetime In 2014
Huffington Post - over 3 years
"The Trip To Bountiful," the hit Tony-winning Broadway play, is coming to TV thanks to Lifetime. Slated to air next year, and currently in production in Atlanta, "The Trip to Bountiful" will reunite almost all of the original cast from the 2013 Broadway revival for the TV adaptation, including Cicely Tyson (who won a Tony for her leading role), and Vanessa Williams, who plays her daughter-in-law. Blair Underwood will star as Tyson's son, replacing Cuba Gooding, Jr. from the Broadway version, and Keke Palmer from VH1's recent TLC biopic "CrazySexyCool" will also be joining the cast. Michael Wilson, who directed the play, has also returned to helm the Lifetime version. This is a full circle moment for "The Trip to Bountiful" since it was originally written for TV back in 1953, before making its Broadway debut a year later. It was eventually turned into a 1985 film, which won Geraldine Page the Academy Award for Best Actress. The play returned to Broadway in April of 2013 and closed ...
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Huffington Post article
What To Watch On Netflix, Part 3: Overlooked Gems
Huffington Post - over 3 years
Now that I've got the Classics and the Pretty Good Bets lists out of the way, welcome to my list of Netflix's Overlooked Gems. This was the Netflix recommendation roster I had the most fun compiling (it's not every day that having watched so much cult TV comes in handy). Adding to the fun: This list comes with a cherry on top, in the form of some exciting news. HuffPost TV can exclusively reveal that all five seasons of the much-loved NBC spy drama "Chuck" will be available in the U.S. for streaming on Netflix on Nov. 1. "Chuck" is a good poster child for this list, which is all about shows with fervent but smallish fan bases -- these are all shows that, for one reason or another, deserve wider attention but in many cases weren't big hits when they first aired. It truly brings me joy to recommend these kinds of shows to people who may be unfamiliar with them; if there's one thing I've become convinced of in my time as a TV critic, it's that there is a great deal of enjoyment to be ...
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Huffington Post article
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Vanessa L. Williams
  • 2014
    Age 50
    During a taping of The Queen Latifah Show on September 26, 2014, Williams announced her engagement to Jim Skrip, a retired accountant from Buffalo. They married on July 4, 2015.
    More Details Hide Details Williams has received eleven Grammy nominations without a win. The only female artists to have received more competitive nominations with no wins are Martina McBride, Björk, Katy Perry, and Diana Ross.
    Starting April 1, 2014, Williams will be a special guest star of the Broadway musical After Midnight at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.
    More Details Hide Details Her run will last through May 11, and follows other celebrity features including K.D. Lang and Toni Braxton. Williams has appeared in several feature films. Her most prominent role was in the 1997 film Soul Food, for which she won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture. Williams appeared in the 1991 cult classic film Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man. She also co-starred with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie Eraser and opposite Chayanne in Dance with Me. In 2007, Williams returned to the big screen starring in two independent motion pictures, the first being My Brother, for which she won Best Actress honors at the Harlem International Film Festival, the African-American Women in Cinema Film Festival and at the Santa Barbara African Heritage Film Festival, and the second being And Then Came Love. In 2009, she starred alongside Miley Cyrus in Hannah Montana: The Movie. Williams stars as Janice in the movie Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor.
  • 2012
    Age 48
    Williams' daughter Jillian Hervey, following in her mother's footsteps, released her first single with the duo Lion Babe in 2012. Her second marriage was to NBA basketball player Rick Fox. They married in September 1999 and have a daughter, Sasha, born on May 1, 2000. After The National Enquirer published pictures of Fox kissing and hugging another woman in mid-2004, Fox's representative announced that the couple had been "headed toward divorce" for over a year. A few months later in August 2004, Fox filed for divorce.
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    Williams and her mother, Helen, co-authored a memoir entitled You Have No Idea, published in April 2012.
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    In a commercial that began running during Super Bowl XLVI in 2012, Williams voiced the new character Ms. Brown, a brown M&M.
    More Details Hide Details Williams is most often referenced and publicly recognized simply as "Vanessa Williams". There is, however, occasional confusion with similarly named actress Vanessa A. Williams, who is just two months younger. It has been reported that Williams first became aware of Vanessa A. in the 1980s when her New York University registrar told her that another, similarly aged student with the same name and from the same state had applied. When Williams appeared as Miss America in a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Vanessa A. accidentally received her check for the appearance, which she returned. In the area of acting, the two ran into name conflict when Screen Actors Guild rules prohibited duplicate stage naming. Vanessa A. had registered the name "Vanessa Williams" first, so as a compromise, Williams was occasionally credited as "Vanessa L. Williams" in acting credits. To compound the confusion, both actresses starred in versions of the drama Soul Food (Williams in the film version, and Vanessa A. in its TV series adaptation). The Screen Actors Guild eventually took the issue to arbitration and decided that both actresses could use the professional name "Vanessa Williams". Today, Williams' prominence has led to a more prevailing association with the stage name "Vanessa Williams", so much so that it has widely become solely attributable to her. She is credited as such in the American television series Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives. Williams is also the owner of the internet domain name
  • 2011
    Age 47
    Williams is a supporter of gay rights and same sex marriage and in 2011, she participated in a HRC campaign entitled “New Yorkers for Marriage Equality".
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  • 2008
    Age 44
    Her other media appearances include endorsing Crest Rejuvenating Effects Toothpaste, endorsing Disneyland and Universal Studios in a VisitCalifornia advertisement for British and Irish television in 2008, and hosting the 6th Annual 2008 TV Land Awards show.
    More Details Hide Details She appeared on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in 2000 as a contestant, and once again on August 10, 2009, as a celebrity guest during the show's 10th anniversary prime-time special editions, winning $50,000 for her charity.
    In 2008 and 2009, she was again nominated for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series for Ugly Betty.
    More Details Hide Details Williams joined the cast of Desperate Housewives for the seventh season. Williams portrays Renee Perry, an old college friend/rival of Lynette Scavo (Felicity Huffman), as the new vixen on Wisteria Lane, moving into the late Edie Britt's old house. In 2012, she starred in the ABC supernatural drama series 666 Park Avenue. Williams has appeared in advertisements for RadioShack. She is a spokesmodel for Proactiv Solution, and was the first African-American spokesmodel for L'Oréal cosmetics in the late 1990s.
  • 2006
    Age 42
    In 2006, Williams received considerable media attention for her comic/villainess role as former model/magazine creative director turned editor-in-chief Wilhelmina Slater in the ABC comedy series Ugly Betty.
    More Details Hide Details Her performance on the series resulted in a nomination for outstanding supporting actress at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards. She also provides the voice for the main character in the PBS Kids version of Mama Mirabelle's Home Movies.
    In early 2006 she starred in the short-lived UPN drama South Beach.
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  • 2003
    Age 39
    In 2003, Williams read the narrative of Tempie Herndon Durham from the WPA slave narratives in the HBO documentary Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives.
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  • 2001
    Age 37
    In 2001, Williams starred in the Lifetime cable movie about the life of Henriette DeLille, The Courage to Love.
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  • 1997
    Age 33
    She played the nymph Calypso in the 1997 Hallmark Entertainment miniseries The Odyssey, starring Armand Assante.
    More Details Hide Details She appeared as Ebony Scrooge the Ebenezer Scrooge character in an update of Charles Dickens' story A Christmas Carol called A Diva's Christmas Carol.
  • 1995
    Age 31
    Her appearances in television movies and miniseries include Perry Mason: The Case of the Silenced Singer and The Jacksons: An American Dream as Suzanne de Passe. In 1995, Williams starred as Rose Alvarez in a television adaptation of the 1960 Broadway musical Bye Bye Birdie.
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    In 1995 she recorded "Colors of the Wind", the Oscar-winner for Best Original Song from the Disney animated feature film Pocahontas, and reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100.
    More Details Hide Details Williams's first major film role was as the female lead in the film Eraser in 1996. She also starred in the movies Soul Food, Dance with Me, The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland, Shaft and Johnson Family Vacation. From 2006 to 2010, she played the role of the scheming, self-absorbed diva and former supermodel Wilhelmina Slater in the ABC comedy series Ugly Betty, for which she received three Emmy Awards nominations. In 2009, Williams released her eighth studio album, The Real Thing. From 2010 to 2012, she starred in Desperate Housewives as spoiled rich housewife Renee Perry. She starred in the supernatural drama series 666 Park Avenue in 2012. Williams was born in Millwood, New York, the daughter of music teachers Helen L. (née Tinch) and Milton Augustine Williams, Jr. A DNA test revealed that her ancestry is 23% from Ghana, 17% from the British Isles (specifically English, Welsh and Irish), 15% from Cameroon, 12% Finnish, 11% Southern European, 7% Togo, 6% Benin, 5% Senegal and 4% Portuguese. Williams and her younger brother Chris, who is also an actor, grew up in Millwood, a predominantly white middle-class suburban area of New York City. Prophetically, her parents put on her birth announcement: "Here she is: Miss America."
  • 1994
    Age 30
    Williams broadened her ascendant music career into a theatrical role when she was cast in the Broadway production of Kiss of the Spider Woman in 1994.
    More Details Hide Details She was also featured in the Tony-nominated and Drama Desk Award nominated performance as the Witch in Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods in a revival of the show in 2002, which included songs revised for her. Other notable theatrical roles include her performances in Carmen Jones at the Kennedy Center, the off-Broadway productions of One Man Band and Checkmates, and the New York City Center's Encores! Great American Musicals in Concert, St. Louis Woman. In 2010, Williams starred in a new Broadway musical revue entitled Sondheim on Sondheim, a look at Stephen Sondheim through his music, film and videotaped interviews. Sondheim ran from March 19 to June 13 at Studio 54 in New York City. As of April 26, 2013, Williams starred as Jessie Mae Watts in the Horton Foote play The Trip to Bountiful. Based on the 1985 movie of the same name, this production is scheduled to run from April 26 to July 7, 2013, at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre in New York City.
    The Sweetest Days, her third album, was released in 1994 to highly-favorable reviews.
    More Details Hide Details The album saw Williams branch out and sample other styles of music that included jazz, hip hop, rock, and Latin-themed recordings such as "Betcha Never" and "You Can't Run", both written and produced by Babyface. Other singles from the album included the adult-contemporary and dance hit "The Way That You Love" and the title track "The Sweetest Days". The album was certified platinum in the U.S. by the RIAA and earned her two Grammy Award nominations. Other releases include two Christmas albums, Star Bright, released in 1996, and Silver & Gold in 2004; Next in 1997, and Everlasting Love in 2005, along with a greatest-hits compilation released in 1998, and a host of other compilations released over the years. Notable chart performances from subsequent albums, motion picture and television soundtracks have included the songs "Love Is", which was a duet with Brian McKnight, the Golden Globe- and Academy Award-winning "Colors of the Wind", "Where Do We Go from Here? ", and "Oh How the Years Go By". In total, Williams has sold more than six million records and has received 15 Grammy Award nominations. In May 2009 she performed two concerts at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City to sold out crowds. On June 2, 2009, she released her eighth studio album on Concord Records titled The Real Thing. It features songs written and/or produced by Babyface, Stevie Wonder, Bill Withers, Bebel Gilberto, and Rex Rideout.
    In 1994 she debuted on Broadway in the musical Kiss of the Spider Woman.
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  • 1988
    Age 24
    Williams released her debut album, The Right Stuff in 1988.
    More Details Hide Details The first single, "The Right Stuff", found success on the R&B chart, while the second single, "He's Got the Look", found similar success on the same chart. The third single, "Dreamin'", was a pop hit, becoming Williams' first top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 8, and her first number one single on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The album reached gold status in the U.S. and earned her a NAACP Image Award and three Grammy Award nominations, including one for Best New Artist. Her second album The Comfort Zone became the biggest success in her music career. The lead single "Running Back to You" reached top twenty on the Hot 100, and the top position of Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart on October 5, 1991. Other singles included "The Comfort Zone" (#2 R&B), "Just for Tonight" (#26 Pop), a cover of The Isley Brothers' "Work to Do" (#3 R&B), and the club-only hit "Freedom Dance (Get Free!)." The most successful single from the album, as well as her biggest hit to date, is "Save the Best for Last". It reached No. 1 in the United States, where it remained for five weeks, as well as No. 1 in Australia, the Netherlands, and Canada, and was in the top 5 in Japan, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
    Williams released her debut album The Right Stuff in 1988, which spawned the hits "The Right Stuff", a No. 1 on Hot Dance Songs, and "Dreamin'", a No. 1 on R&B and No. 8 on Billboard Hot 100.
    More Details Hide Details Her second studio album, The Comfort Zone in 1991, topped the Billboard R&B Album Chart and spawned the Billboard Hot 100 number-one hit "Save the Best for Last".
  • 1987
    Age 23
    Williams has been married three times. Her first marriage, to public relations consultant Ramon Hervey II, was from 1987 to 1997.
    More Details Hide Details Hervey later became Williams' manager. The couple had two daughters, Melanie (born June 30, 1987) and Jillian (born June 19, 1989), and one son, Devin (born April 14, 1993).
  • 1985
    Age 21
    After days of media frenzy and sponsors threatening to pull out of the upcoming 1985 pageant, Williams felt pressured by Miss America Pageant officials to resign, and did so in a press conference on July 23, 1984.
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  • 1984
    Age 20
    Although she resigned from fulfilling the duties of a current Miss America, Williams was allowed to keep the bejeweled crown and scholarship money and is officially recognized by the Miss America Organization as "Miss America 1984"; Charles is recognized as "Miss America 1984-b".
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    On September 7, 1984, Williams filed a $500 million lawsuit against Chiapel and Guccione.
    More Details Hide Details She eventually dropped the suit a year later, explaining that she wanted to put the scandal behind her and move on.
    She was crowned Miss America 1984 on September 17, 1983, becoming the first African American to win the title.
    More Details Hide Details Williams' reign as Miss America was not without its challenges and controversies. For the first time in pageant history, a reigning Miss America was the target of death threats and hate mail. Ten months into her reign as Miss America, she received an anonymous phone call stating that nude photos of her taken before her pageant days had surfaced. Williams believed the photographs were private and had been destroyed; she claims she never signed a release permitting the photos to be used.
  • 1983
    Age 19
    After winning the Miss Syracuse title, Williams won the Miss New York crown in 1983, and went to compete for the Miss America title at the national pageant in Atlantic City.
    More Details Hide Details Prior to the final night of competition, Williams won both preliminary competitions (talent and swimsuit) earlier in the week. Each day's preliminary competitions have winners announced. Therefore, there can be as many as six "prelim" winners: three each for talent and swimsuit. To win a "prelim" in both is a strong precursor to success in the finals.
    Williams competed in the Miss Syracuse (University) beauty pageant when a campus musical she was in was canceled in 1983.
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  • 1982
    Age 18
    The black-and-white photos dated back to 1982 (the year before she won the Miss America Pageant), when she worked as an assistant and makeup artist for Mount Kisco, New York photographer Tom Chiapel.
    More Details Hide Details According to Williams, Chiapel advised her that he wanted to try a "new concept of silhouettes with two models". He photographed Williams and another woman in several nude poses. Hugh Hefner, the publisher of Playboy, was initially offered the photos, but turned them down. Later, Hefner would explain why in People Weekly, "Vanessa Williams is a beautiful woman. There was never any question of our interest in the photos. But they clearly weren't authorized and because they would be the source of considerable embarrassment to her, we decided not to publish them. We were also mindful that she was the first black Miss America." Days later, Bob Guccione, the publisher of Penthouse, announced that his magazine would publish the photos in their September 1984 15th anniversary issue, which was the same issue that featured nude photographs of Traci Lords, later found to have been only 15 years old at the time. The cover featured a photograph of a smiling Vanessa Williams with 88-year-old George Burns and the headline, Miss America, Oh, God, She's Nude! Guccione paid Chiapel for the rights to the photos without Williams' consent. According to the PBS documentary Miss America, the Penthouse issue featuring Williams would ultimately bring Guccione a $14 million windfall.
  • 1981
    Age 17
    Williams studied piano and French horn growing up, but was most interested in singing and songwriting. She graduated in 1981 from Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, New York, received a scholarship and attended Syracuse University as a Musical Theatre Arts major from 1981 to 1983.
    More Details Hide Details She interrupted her education at Syracuse during her sophomore year to fulfill her duties as Miss America, and subsequently left the university to focus on her entertainment career. Twenty-five years later, she graduated from Syracuse by earning her remaining college credits through her life experience. Williams delivered the convocation address on May 10, 2008, to 480 other students in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. She stated:
  • 1963
    Born on March 18, 1963.
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