Better Late Than Never! Vanessa Williams Receives On-Air Apology During Miss America Pageant | Playbill

News Better Late Than Never! Vanessa Williams Receives On-Air Apology During Miss America Pageant A decade before Tony nominee Vanessa Williams made her Broadway debut in the 1993 staging of Kiss of the Spider Woman, she was crowned Miss America and the pageant's first ever African-American winner. Before the year's end however, she was forced to resign the crown after nude photos were published in Penthouse Magazine.

32 years later, Williams returned to the competition as a guest judge on Sept. 13. Following her performance of "Oh How the Years Go By," she was unexpectedly met with an apology from the pageant's chairman and CEO, Sam Haskell III. 

"I have been a close friend to this beautiful and talented lady for 32 years," Haskell said during the ABC Broadcast. "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," he continued. "On behalf of today's organization I want to apologize to you and to your mother, Ms. 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."

"Thank you so much," Williams replied emotionally. "So unexpected, but so beautiful. I did the best that I could as my reign as Miss America 1983-84." 

Williams is a Tony nominee for her performance as the Witch in Stephen Sondheim's Into the WoodsHer other Broadway credits include Sondheim on Sondheim and The Trip to Bountiful. In addition to a successful solo career as a singer, she is a multiple-Emmy nominee for her long-running role in the hit TV series "Ugly Betty".  Watch Williams' performance on Sept. 13 below: 

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