Miss America Pageant Apologizes to Vanessa Williams 32 Years After Nude Photo Scandal

Vanessa Williams

Williams became the first African-American woman to win the crown in 1984, but was forced to resign after nude photos from her past went public.

The executive chairman of the Miss America pageant has apologized to Vanessa Williams for the way the pageant's predecessors handled a nude photo controversy because of which she was forced to resign her title in 1984.

Sam Haskell apologized to Williams during Sunday night's nationally televised Miss America pageant for the way his predecessors handled the controversy involving nude photos of Williams that were published in Penthouse several months after she became the first African-American Miss America.

Williams, who returned to the pageant for the first time in 32 years as head judge, resigned the title in 1984.

Haskell, who was not involved with the pageant at the time, said, "I want to apologize for anything that was said or done" during the photo scandal. 

"You have lived your life in grace and dignity and never was it more evident than during the events of 1984 when you resigned. Though 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," he announced onstage. "I want to apologize for anything that was said or done that made you feel any less than the Miss America you are and the Miss America you always will be."

Williams, who went on to become a famous stage and TV actress, says she "did the best I could" during the scandal.

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