Miss America 1984, the 57th Miss America pageant, was held at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey on September 17, 1983, on NBC Network. Miss America 1983, Debra Maffett (Miss California 1982) crowned her successor, Miss New York 1983, Vanessa Williams of Millwood, New York at the end of the nationally televised event. In July 1984, Williams was forced to resign over the unauthorized publication of nude photographs and was succeeded by first runner-up, Miss New Jersey Suzette Charles, who served as Miss America until September 15, 1984. Among the contestants who did not place among the ten finalists, Miss New Mexico 1983 Mai Shanley, eventually went on to win the Miss USA 1984 pageant on May 17, 1984.

Miss America 1984
Vanessa Williams in 1984
DateSeptember 17, 1983
PresentersGary Collins

Susan Powell (Miss America 1981)

Deanna Fogarty
VenueBoardwalk Hall
([[New York ]], New Jersey)
WinnerVanessa Williams - September 17, 1983 – July 23, 1984 (resigned)

Suzette Charles - July 23, 1984 – September 15, 1984 (succeeded)
New York (state) New York (Williams)

New Jersey New Jersey (Charles)
← 1983
1985 →

Overview Edit

It began in the summer of 1982. I had finished my exams the first week of May at Syracuse University and came home to find a summer job. I saw an advertisement in a local newspaper reading "models wanted," so I called up and talked to Tom Chiapel, who was the photographer and part-owner of TEC studios. He said to come down for an interview ... When I returned later to pick up the proofs, Tom Chiapel indicated that he needed a makeup artist. He offered me an audition, so I came in and did a face. He decided to have me work for him as a makeup artist-receptionist ... I had worked there for a month and a half when Tom Chiapel mentioned several times that he'd like to shoot me in the nude. I had never posed nude and I was curious. I was 19 years old. I agreed. He assured me that none of the photographs would ever leave the studio. He assured me ... I trusted him not to do anything with the photographs. That was my error. I did not give my consent to him or Penthouse to ever have them published, used in any magazine or in any way. Nothing. I signed an application giving my height, weight, color of hair and my talents ... I never told anyone about the pictures, not even my parents. I did not think it was a concern. We had made an agreement they would never be published. I feel as if I were just a sacrificial lamb. The past just came up and kicked me. I felt betrayed and violated, like I had been raped.

Vanessa Williams in 1984[1]

During the preliminaries for the Miss America 1984 pageant, Vanessa Williams won "Preliminary Swimsuit" and "Preliminary Talent" (with a vocal performance of "Happy Days Are Here Again").[2] She was crowned Miss America 1984 on September 17, 1983 (becoming the first African American woman to win the title).[2][3] Williams later commented that she was one of five minority contestants that year, noting that ballet dancer Deneen Graham "had already had a cross burned on her front yard because she was the first black Miss North Carolina [1983]."[4] She also pointed out that "Suzette Charles was the first runner-up, and she was biracial. But when the press started, when I would go out on the - on the tour and do my appearances, and people would come up and say they never thought they'd see the day that it would happen; when people would want to shake my hand, and you'd see tears in their eyes, and they'd say, I never thought I'd see it in my lifetime - that's when, you know, it was definitely a very special honor."[4] Williams' reign as Miss America was not without its challenges and controversies, however. For the first time in pageant history, a reigning Miss America was the target of death threats and hate mail.[4][5] In addition, ten months into her reign as Miss America, Williams received an anonymous phone call stating nude photos of her (taken before her pageant days) would be published in Penthouse. The publication of these photos ultimately led to her resignation as Miss America.

Williams believed the photographs were private and had been destroyed; she claims she never signed a release permitting the photos to be used.[6] 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. According to Williams, Chiapel said that "he had a concept of having two models pose nude for silhouettes. Basically to make different shapes and forms. The light would be behind the models. I was reluctant, but since he assured me that I would be the only one to see them and I would not be identifiable in the photographs, I agreed. He had also gotten another model to agree to this."[1] Hugh Hefner, the publisher of Playboy, was initially offered the photos, but turned them down, stating: "The single victim in all of this was the young woman herself, whose right to make this decision was taken away from her. If she wanted to make this kind of statement, that would be her business, but the statement wasn't made by her."[7][8] Penthouse published the photos without her permission in 1984, however, in what the PBS documentary Miss America described as "the most successful issue of Penthouse magazine ever printed, netting publisher Bob Guccione a windfall profit of $14 million."[5]

According to Essence magazine, Williams "was forced to resign from her title as she faced public shaming and bullying from the public at large."[9] Williams herself later described these events as "the betrayal, and the humiliation, that happened to me on a grand scale."[4] She also noted that her parents experienced "an incredible amount of shame and humiliation" and were equally the subject of harassment at the time.[10] After being given 72 hours to make a decision,[10] Williams formally announced her decision to resign in a press conference on July 23, 1984 [8][10][11] and the title subsequently went to the first runner-up, Miss New Jersey Suzette Charles (who served out the final seven weeks of Williams' reign).[8][10][11] On September 7, 1984, Williams filed a $500 million lawsuit against Chiapel and Guccione. She eventually dropped the suit a year later, explaining that she wanted to put the scandal behind her and move on.[12][13]

Williams returned to the Miss America stage on September 13, 2015, for the Miss America 2016 pageant, when she served as head judge and performed "Oh How the Years Go By."[10][14] The pageant began with then-Miss America CEO Sam Haskell issuing an apology to Williams, telling her that although "none of us currently in the organization were involved then, on behalf of today's organization, I want to apologize to you and to your mother, Miss Helen Williams. I want to apologize for anything that was said or done that made you feel any less the Miss America you are and the Miss America you always will be."[15][16][17]

Suzette Charles (Williams' replacement) said in an interview with Inside Edition that she was perplexed over the apology and suggested that it was given for the purpose of ratings.[18] Williams also commented on the events surrounding her return, stating in an interview with ABC News reporter Robin Roberts that "there's a lot of people who feel I should return, so the people who harbor the resentment I understand it but realize that all of those people that were part of the old guard are no longer there."[10]

Results Edit

Final results Contestant
Miss America 1984
2nd runner-up
3rd runner-up
4th runner-up
Top 10

Order of announcements Edit

Preliminary awards Edit

Awards Contestant
Lifestyle and Fitness

Non-finalist awards Edit

Awards Contestant

Judges Edit

Contestants Edit

State Name Hometown Age Talent Placement Special Awards Notes
  Alabama Pam Battles Muscle Shoals 21 Piano, Medley of George Gershwin 2nd runner-up
  Alaska Jennifer Smith Soldotna 19 Vocal, "Le Jazz Hot!" from Victor/Victoria
  Arizona Jennifer Nichols Tempe 22 Classical Vocal, "Glitter and Be Gay"
  Arkansas Regina Hopper Springdale 24 Popular Vocal, "You're Gonna Hear from Me" Non-finalist Talent Award Formerly on the Miss America Board of Directors
  California Shari Moskau Mission Viejo 19 Popular Vocal, "Greatest Love of All"
  Colorado Melanie Scott Littleton 21 Jazz Acrobatic Dance, "Junkaroo Holiday"
  Connecticut Dakeita Vanderburg Westport 25 Popular Vocal, "I Can See It"
  Delaware Tammy Renee Copeland Newark 21 Vocal, "Cry Me a River"
  Florida Kim Boyce Bradenton 22 Popular Vocal, "Rainbow Connection" & "Over the Rainbow" Top 10
  Georgia Tammy Fulwider Columbus 24 Tap Dance/Vocal, "42nd Street"
  Hawaii Wendy Sue Nelson Kihei 21 Vocal, "Hit Me with a Hot Note" from Sophisticated Ladies
  Idaho Elaine Pack Rexburg 20 Harp, "Spanish Fantasy" Non-finalist Talent Award
  Illinois Rebecca Bush Chicago 24 Vocal, "It's My Turn" Played Detective Katie Grant on Jake and the Fatman
  Indiana Teri Schultz Bloomington 21 Ballet, "Sylvia"
  Iowa Karri Nussle Des Moines 19 Vocal, "Minute Waltz"
  Kansas Laura Lynn Watters Colby 22 Trumpet Medley, "Sugar Blues" & "Woodchopper's Ball" Non-finalist Talent Award
  Kentucky Lynn Whitney Thompson Lexington 24 Popular Vocal, "Yesterday When I Was Young" Top 10
  Louisiana Miriam Gauthier Shreveport 19 Piano, "Toccata" by Antonio Tauriello Non-finalist Talent Award
  Maine Brenda Theriault Presque Isle 22 Vocal, "Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey"
  Maryland Amy Elizabeth Keys Lanham 26 Popular Vocal, "I'll Never Love This Way Again"
  Massachusetts Holly Mayer Brookline 26 Dance/Baton Twirling, Music from Gypsy: A Musical Fable Non-finalist Talent Award Previously National Sweetheart 1982

Mother of Miss New York's Outstanding Teen 2011 and Miss New York 2019, Lauren Molella

Sister-in-law of Miss New York 1989, Lisa Molella

  Michigan Denise Gehman Waterford 20 Vocal Medley, "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing" & "Show Me" from My Fair Lady
  Minnesota Vicki Plaster St. Paul 23 Vocal Medley, "Just You Wait" & "I Could Have Danced All Night" from My Fair Lady Mother of Miss Minnesota 2019, Kathryn Kueppers
  Mississippi Wanda Gayle Geddie Hattiesburg 24 Vocal, "More Than You Know" 3rd runner-up Preliminary Lifestyle & Fitness Award
  Missouri Barbara Ann Webster Jefferson City 21 Violin Medley, "Listen to the Mocking Bird" & "Orange Blossom Special" Top 10 Preliminary Talent Award Later Miss Missouri USA 1986
  Montana Laurie Nelson Billings 19 Classical Piano, L'isle joyeuse by Claude Debussy
  Nebraska Kristin Leigh Lowenburg Kearney 20 Jazz Dance, "What a Feeling" Top 10
  Nevada Kim Pacini Incline Village 24 Vocal, "You're the Top"
  New Hampshire Monica Jean Rastallis Newport 22 Ballet, Theme from Summer of '42
  New Jersey Suzette Charles Mays Landing 20 Popular Vocal, "Kiss Me in the Rain" 1st runner-up Preliminary Talent Award Named Miss America in July 1984 when Vanessa Williams relinquished title
  New Mexico Mai Shanley Alamogordo 20 Vocal, "I Feel Pretty" from West Side Story Later Miss New Mexico USA 1984

Crowned Miss USA 1984

Top 10 at Miss Universe 1984

  New York Vanessa Williams Millwood 20 Popular Vocal, "Happy Days are Here Again" Winner Preliminary Lifestyle & Fitness Award

Preliminary Talent Award

First African American Miss America

Resigned on July 23, 1984, after Penthouse was to publish nude photos of Williams without her consent

  North Carolina Deneen Graham North Wilkesboro 19 Jazz Dance, "Sing, Sing, Sing" First African American Miss North Carolina
  North Dakota Phyllis Hankey Park River 22 Vocal, "If You Believe" from The Wiz
  Ohio Pamela Helean Rigas Canfield 22 Vocal/Dance, "Shine it On" 4th runner-up Preliminary Lifestyle & Fitness Award Previously Ohio's Junior Miss 1978

Previously Miss Alabama USA 1980

3rd runner-up at Miss USA 1980

  Oklahoma Trelynda Kerr Moore 21 Country Vocal Medley, "Stand by Your Man"
  Oregon Stephanie "Jill" Wymer Sutherlin 22 Popular Vocal, "Out Here on My Own" from Fame Non-finalist Talent Award
  Pennsylvania Jennifer Eshelman Hegins 23 Classical Vocal, "Adele's Laughing Song" from Die Fledermaus
  Rhode Island Pamela Hoff Providence 21 Vocal, "For Once in My Life"
  South Carolina Dalia Mercedes Garcia Columbia 21 Vocal, "Don't Cry for Me Argentina"
  South Dakota LaRonda Lundin Revillo 20 Classical Piano, "Polichinelle" by Sergei Rachmaninoff
  Tennessee Moira Alice Kaye Oak Ridge 23 Vocal, "Memory" from Cats Non-finalist Talent Award
  Texas Dana Rogers Boerne 22 Vocal, "An American Trilogy" Top 10 Mother of Miss Nevada's Outstanding Teen 2019, Molly Martin
  Utah Lynn Lambert Provo 21 Classical Piano, "Concerto No. 2, 3rd Movement" by Rachmaninoff Non-finalist Talent Award
  Vermont Juliet Lambert Middlebury 19 Vocal, "Don't Rain on My Parade"
  Virginia Lisa Aliff Roanoke 23 Vocal & Dance, "Manhattan" & "Broadway Rhythm"
  Washington Jennifer Havlin Bellingham 25 Character Ballet, "On Golden Pond"
  West Virginia Andrea Lynn Patrick Morgantown 23 Tap Dance, "Malagueña" & "España cañí" Previously Miss Pennsylvania USA 1980
  Wisconsin Wendy Lynn Wagner Menomonie / Des Plaines Illinois 22 Vocal, "Mira" from Carnival!
  Wyoming Heather Wallace Cheyenne 21 Vocal, "New York, New York"

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ a b Eady, Brenda (1984-08-06). "Vanessa's Story". People Magazine. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
  2. ^ a b c d Singleton, Don (1983-09-18). "Vanessa Williams is crowned the first African-American Miss America in 1983". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
  3. ^ "This Day in History – Sep 17, 1983: Vanessa Williams becomes first black Miss America". History.com. Retrieved November 28, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d Martin, Michael (2010-05-10). "Vanessa Williams On Scandals, TV And Her Mom". NPR (National Public Radio). Retrieved 2015-09-14.
  5. ^ a b "People & Events: Breaking the Color Line at the Pageant". PBS.
  6. ^ "Vanessa Williams Biography". biography.com. Retrieved 2015-09-15.
  7. ^ Robinson, Joanna (2015-09-05). "Vanessa Williams Makes Peace with Old Nude Scandal, Returns to Judge Miss America Pageant". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
  8. ^ a b c Latson, Jennifer (2015-07-23). "The Scandal That Cost a Miss America Her Crown". Time Magazine. Retrieved 2015-09-16.
  9. ^ Lewis, Taylor (2015-09-10). "Vanessa Williams Returns to Judge Miss America Pageant, 32 Years After Scandal". Essence. Retrieved 2015-09-18.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Roberts, Robin (2015-09-11). "Vanessa Williams on Returning to Miss America After Scandal". ABC News. Retrieved 2015-09-11.
  11. ^ a b "Vanessa Williams Resigns". Getty Images. Retrieved 2015-09-16.
  12. ^ Stark, John; Alexander, Michael (January 30, 1989). "Ex-Miss America Vanessa Williams Overcomes Her Disgrace by Showing and Singing the Right Stuff". People. Retrieved September 25, 2011.
  13. ^ "THE REGION; Ex-Miss America Sues Over Photos". The New York Times. September 8, 1984.
  14. ^ "Miss America 2016 - Vanessa Williams - Oh How the Years Go By (9-13-15)". Miss America 2016. 2015-09-13. Archived from the original on 2016-03-13. Retrieved 2015-09-22.
  15. ^ Fitz-Gerald, Sean (2015-09-14). "Vanessa Williams Finally Got Her Miss America Apology". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2015-09-17.
  16. ^ Rogers, Katie (2015-09-14). "Vanessa Williams Returns to Miss America and Receives an Apology". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
  17. ^ Robinson, Joanna (2015-09-14). "Watch Vanessa Williams Finally Receive an Apology at the Miss America 2016 Pageant". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2015-09-13.
  18. ^ Inside Edition (2015-09-14). "Beauty Queen Who Won Vanessa Williams' Crown: Miss America Apology Was About Ratings". Inside Edition. Retrieved 2015-09-18.
  19. ^ Marchetti, Nancy (September 19, 1983). "Miss Florida, Kim Boyce, Feels Good Following Top 10 Finish In Pageant". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. p. 1B. Retrieved July 19, 2014.

External links Edit