Pageant Trivia Miss America fun facts
A collection of fun facts about the Miss America pageant
Kellye Cash-Sheppard from Memphis, Tennessee, was Miss Tennessee 1986 and was crowned Miss America 1987. Cash is the great-niece of Johnny Cash. Following her reign as Miss America, Cash toured with Bob Hope’s USO Show, and has appeared on The David Letterman Show, The Today Show, Good Morning America, among others. In addition to making approximately 100 appearances each year at charitable, community and political events, Cash has released six music CDs: four Christian and two country. She has performed with numerous musical artists including Vince Gill, Lee Greenwood, and Billy Joel, and appeared in many regional theatrical productions around the country. Cash was chosen for the lead part of country music legend Patsy Cline, in Always...Patsy Cline.
Suzette Charles represented New Jersey in the 1983 Miss America pageant held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She won her preliminary talent night and finished first runner-up to Vanessa Lynn Williams, who became the first African-American to wear the crown and title of Miss America. When Williams was forced to relinquish the title amid a scandal triggered by Williams' posing for nude photographs published in Penthouse magazine, Charles --who is also African-American -- was crowned in Williams' place and served the remaining seven weeks of Williams' reign. Charles, who already had many credits in advertising and educational television, has gone on to a career as a singer, entertainer, and television personality.
Leanza is a former Miss Florida and became Miss America 1993. As Miss America, she became the first beauty queen to adopt AIDS prevention as her platform. She has also served as a host for several television shows, including Entertainment Tonight (1994–1995), New Attitudes (1998), and Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? (2000), and made television guest appearances in television shows such as Melrose Place, The Tick, and Fear Factor. In addition, she serves as a reporter for Animal Planet's coverage of the Eukanuba AKC National Dog Show programs and hosts the "On The Block" show on DIY Network. Her stage credits include: Barefoot in the Park, Godspell, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Bye Bye Birdie, and Voyage of the Little Mermaid. Married to Entertainment Tonight correspondent Mark Steines, Cornett is the mother of two. They live in Los Angeles, California. She was the first actress to play a live-action version of Ariel, the title character from The Little Mermaid, at the "Voyage of The Little Mermaid" show at Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in 1991.
Vera Miles was crowned Miss Kansas in 1948, placing third in the Miss America pageant. She appeared on the quiz series "You Bet Your Life" with Groucho Marx and when asked what beauty titles she's held, she replied "I was first Miss Chamber of Commerce and then Miss Wichita and then Miss Kansas and Miss Texas Grapefruit and recently I've been chosen Miss New Maid Margarine and I had the honor to represent Kansas in the Miss America pageant." She became an actress and is most famous for appearing in the Alfred Hitchcock film "Psycho".
Rebecca King (Colorado) Rebecca utilized her scholarship money to obtain a law degree. A practicing attorney specializing in family law, Rebecca has seen many changes during her years of practice. Rebecca is encouraged that new Federal legislation regarding custody and support issues are helping children. Per court orders, many children are now escaping poverty levels because of better access to child support through such legislation. Rebecca maintains that she has stayed committed to her profession because she feels it is important to help people move to happier portions of their lives and not carry bitterness associated with hurtful marriages. Rebecca remains quite involved in the community and committed to many worthwhile fundraising efforts that are dear to her.
Shirley Cothran (Texas) Miss America 1975 Utilizing her Miss America scholarship money, Shirley earned her Ph.D. in education. Shirley has remained active in community service by serving on school, charity, and advisory boards, while writing for several Christian publications. Enjoying an active career in public speaking, Shirley has concentrated her efforts to Christian women's groups and conferences.
Tawny Godin (New York) Miss America 1976 Tawny attended Skidmore College in New York and the University of Southern California where she studied linguistics and journalism. After her year of service as Miss America, Tawny began an industrious broadcasting career. In 1977 she became a general assignment reporter at KABC-TV. She has co-hosted a number of popular television shows including "AM Los Angeles", "Eye on LA", "Hollywood Close-up" and "The Love Report." Tawny was also a guest host on the national television program, "Good Morning America" with David Hartman. Tawny is known to her viewing audiences as Tawny Little.
Dorothy Benham (Minnesota) Miss America 1977 Dorothy has stayed actively involved with the Miss America program since her year of service. She was a featured performer and co-host for many years on the Miss America telecast and twice judged the Miss America Pageant. She has also been a state judge for Oregon, Florida, North Dakota, Georgia, and Oklahoma. Dorothy is a lyric-coloratura soprano who made her Broadway debut as an original cast member of "Jerome Robbins" Broadway". She has been a guest artist with Symphony Orchestras throughout the country
Nancy Stafford won Miss Florida 1976 and competed in the 1977 Miss America pageant. In 1982, she moved to L.A., where her first guest-starring role playing the dual role of both Adrienne/Felicia Hunt on the Soap Opera The Doctors, the show she grew up watching. This one part led to other roles such as: Riptide, Remington Steele, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Who's the Boss?, Hunter, and Quantum Leap. She also guest-starred on an episode of Magnum, P.I. Stafford joined the cast of the second season of St. Elsewhere, as Joan Halloran, where she played the role for three seasons. She also starred as Patricia Blake on Sidekicks, which lasted only one season. Her biggest claim to fame on television was portraying lawyer's assistant, Michelle Thomas to Andy Griffith's, Matlock, from 1987 to 1992.
Kylene Barker (Virginia) Miss America 1979 Winning the Miss America title as an acrobatic dancer, Kylene believes fitness and beauty go hand in hand with fashion. Her keen observations as Miss America plus the experience from her Palm Beach boutique were the fuel to write "Southern Beauty: A Total Fitness and Beauty Program for That All American Winning Look." She has also released her own exercise album, "Stamina With Style." After her year of service as Miss America, Kylene signed a ten year lease at age 23, and opened D. Kylene Ladies Apparel on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, which she owned and operated for 13 years. In the early '90s Kylene decided to trade the business world for the golf course and became an avid golfer.
Susan Powell (Oklahoma) Miss America 1981 Susan Powell is currently the host of Home Matters, her own one-hour series on The Discovery Channel, recently completing its ninth season. In September of 1980, Susan was named Miss America 1981. In the years following her reign, she has appeared before audiences in theatres, opera houses, concert halls and at lecture podiums all across the country. She performed at Houston's Theatre Under the Stars where she starred opposite Larry Gatlin in his musical Texas Flyer and also starred as the heroine, Margarita, in the world premiere of the new musical Zorro.
Debra Maffett (California) Miss America 1983 Debra is an Emmy nominated broadcast veteran who has hosted, written and produced thousands of hours of network, cable and syndicated programming. Debra’s creative abilities in television and music landed her in Nashville, where she has written and produced several albums and enjoyed a high profile career in the country music arena.
Elizabeth Ward (Arkansas) Miss America 1982 She used her Miss America scholarship money to study acting at HB Studios in New York City before moving to Hollywood to pursue a film and television career. After appearing as the recurring character, Amanda, for six years on 'Highlander-The Series' Elizabeth once again stepped into the role of Amanda, the spirited Immortal jewel thief, on 'Highlander: The Raven'. She also has a cooking show in development with her good friend, Contessa Ippolita Douglas Scotti di Vigoleno. Elizabeth also hosts tours to Tuscany and is currently putting together a number of tour offerings to venues as diverse as Venice, Napa Valley and a dude ranch in Wyoming. She also offers classes in the beautiful Fan Kata technique showcased on 'Highlander: The Raven'. Elizabeth has recently starred in a delightfully quirky commercial for match.com and in the film 'Interceptor Force 2'.
Cheryl Prewitt (Mississippi) Miss America 1980 Cheryl Prewitt grew up in Choctaw County, Mississippi. Through her unyielding trust in God, she overcame a crippling car accident and being sexually abused as a child. Her faith in Him enabled her to fulfill her dreams and brought her to victory! She and her family have dedicated their lives to their ministry.
Sharlene Wells (Utah) Sharlene is the only foreign-born, bilingual Miss America ~ she played the Paraguayan harp and sang in Spanish for her talent presentation at the Miss America pageant in front of a record television audience of over 100 million. Sharlene returned to her studies at Brigham Young University where she not only graduated magna cum laude, but received the Earl J. Glade award as the Outstanding Senior in Broadcasting, and the Silver Microphone Award for having the top cumulative GPA in the Communications Department. In 1987, Sharlene became one of the first women to work on-air for ESPN, and for 15 years she covered world-class events. Since 2005, Sharlene has been Partner and Chief Marketing Officer of StoryRock, Inc., the leading provider of core technology for interactive and print historical archiving. She is also the acting President of the Remember My Service Division of StoryRock, which she founded, and is the only full service provider to assist Military Commands in documenting their history. Previous to joining StoryRock, she was Vice President of Communications for Monarch Health Sciences. Sharlene holds a Master’s Degree in Organizational Communication from the University of Utah and is the author of "Kissing A Frog: Four Steps to Finding Comfort Outside Your Comfort Zone." Sharlene serves as Chairman of the National Advisory Board of the National Center for Veterans Studies at the University of Utah, and serves on the Executive Committee. She is President-elect of the BYU Alumni Board, and serves on the Best of State Advisory Board and Ascend Alliance Advisory Board.
Suzette Charles (New Jersey) Miss America 1984 (B) She was featured in Sesame Street and Electric Company at the early age of 8. Suzette has appeared on several soap operas including CBS's The Young and the Restless, NBC's Generations and a contract role on ABC's Loving. Her vocal talent has led her to tour with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Bill Cosby, Alan King and Stevie Wonder to name a few. Suzette represented New Jersey in the Miss America Pageant in 1984 as a 1981 Presidential Scholar and was presented the Presidential gold medallion by President Ronald Reagan upon graduating. Suzette's vocal performance as a contestant won her the talent portion as she sang Barbra Streisand's "Kiss Me In The Rain."
Kellye Cash (Tennessee) Miss America 1987 She has performed with numerous musical artists including Vince Gill, Lee Greenwood, and Billy Joel and has performed in many regional theatrical productions; she was recently chosen for the lead part of country music legend Patsy Cline, in Always...Patsy Cline.
Susan Akin (Mississippi) Miss America 1986 In the past, Susan traveled extensively with Bob Hope, performing at conventions both in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Susan remains politically active and has been the spokesperson for the National Down's Syndrome Association and for seatbelt safety, addressing many state legislative and advocacy groups.
Nicole Johnson Miss America 1999 has served as an international consultant and advocate for diabetes issues for more than twelve years. She has worked tirelessly promoting awareness, prevention and early detection of the condition she has shared since 1993. Nicole also serves on numerous health related advisory boards and has been recognized for her work in diabetes around the world. Nicole holds Master's degrees in Journalism and Public Health and is currently seeking her Doctor of Public Health degree from the University of South Florida.
Kaye Lani Rae Rafko (Michigan) Miss America 1988 During her year of service and in the years since, Kaye Lani has been a bold advocate for nursing and hospice programs. In the fall of 1987, Kaye Lani addressed a Congressional subcommittee in Washington, DC, concerning issues facing the nursing community. Shortly after Kaye Lani relinquished her title, she opened a hospice program in her community of Monroe, MI. She has participated in many fundraising activities and spoken to many national organizations including the American Cancer Society, America Heart Association, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Make a Wish Foundation, United Way, and the March of Dimes, to name only a few. She has spoken to medical professional groups around the world, including those in Singapore, Malaysia, Rome, and Paris, voicing current concerns in the field of nursing.
Marjorie Vincent (Illinois) Miss America 1991. During her year of service, Marjorie's platform was helping with the cause of domestic violence. Marjorie continues to remain committed to her cause, as well as working full-time as a news anchor in Columbus, Ohio.
Kimberly Aiken (South Carolina) Miss America 1994 Kim's platform was tackling the plight of homelessness. Her year of service as Miss America helped generate public awareness about homelessness and brought about a better public understanding of this significant societal dilemma. After graduation from New York University, Kim pursued a career in public accounting with Ernst & Young, LLP and one of the Big Five accounting firms. Currently, she is an image consultant specializing in pageant interview preparation and a public speaker. She is also a regular columnist for Pageantry Magazine.