In the early 80s Vanessa Williams made history twice in being crowned Miss America. When she won the prize in September , she was the first African-American woman to do so. By July she became the first Miss America to resign her crown, all over some nude photos from that were published in Penthouse without her consent. Thirty-two years later, she will return as head judge of the Miss America pageant.
I t might have been the lowest point in her life, as she told People in , but the scandal that led Vanessa Williams to resign her post as Miss America also set her up for one of the greatest comebacks in entertainment history. But they did leave the studio, partly because she was identifiable: photos of Miss America in compromising positions, some of them involving another nude woman, were worth their weight in gold. TIME reported that the photographer was paid more than Penthouse had ever paid for a photo spread before. The statement that Williams ultimately made was that she was more than a racy photo spread — and more than Miss America. The title had never been a dream of hers, as TIME attested just after she won the competition. She wants to be a star.