On This Day in 1983

Vanessa Williams is the First Black Woman Crowned Miss America

Representing New York State in pink sequins and seemingly endless taffeta, a fresh-faced, 20-year-old Vanessa Williams became a potent symbol of progress in America's attitudes towards race and beauty when she took home the Miss America tiara after winning the swimsuit competition and wowing judges with her rendition of all-American saloon standard, “Happy Days Are Here Again.” Though Williams had to forfeit her crown when renegade nude snaps of the beauty queen simulating lesbian sex surfaced ten months into her reign, a subsequent turn to music and acting proved golden, with the singer’s debut album and heart-wrenching super-ballad “Save the Best for Last” gaining Grammy nominations. Roles as a conniving fashion magazine editor on hit series Ugly Betty and a cougar divorcée on Desperate Housewives, have cemented Williams' two-decade long transition from wide-eyed girl-next-door to triple-threat showbiz seductress, making this 48-year-old mother of four a NOWNESS favorite.
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