Smile And Wave Girls, Smile And Wave: Celebrities Who Were Beauty Pageant Winners

April 8, 2013  |  
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There she is! Miss America! We’ve all seen beauty pageants on TV – Miss America, Miss Universe, Miss U.S.A., etc. The flawless, smiling ladies parading about on stage in dazzling dresses and teeny weeny bikinis that make us mentally plan our next crash diets. These pageant contestants spend hours primping, applying makeup and styling hair to perfection. They rehearse intellectual answers to worldly questions delivered by pageant judges and eagerly reveal their unique talents, such as playing the cello or performing a gymnastic routine. You’d be oh so surprised at some of the celebrities who actually participated in various pageants and donned sparkly tiaras.

Halle Berry

Actress Halle Berry won the title of Miss Teen All American in 1985. She also won Miss Ohio USA in 1986, was first runner up to Miss USA 1986, and fourth runner up to Miss World 1986.

 Kenya Moore

RHOA reality star Kenya Moore won the 1993 Miss Michigan USA and Miss USA 1993 titles. She even finished in the top six Miss Universe 1993 pageant.

Claudia Jordan

TV and radio personality, Claudia Jordan secured the title of Miss Rhode Island Teen uSA 1990 and repped Rhode Island at the Miss Teen USA 1990 pageant. She also won Miss Rhode Island USA in 1997, becoming the second African American woman ever to hold that title. She placed in the top 10 at Miss USA 1997.

Katy Perry

Pop star Katy Perry dabbled in the pageantry world as a kid. Her mom entered her in a local grocery store pageant where she won second place. Next, she did a real pageant while living in Arizona and won second place again.


Vanessa Williams

Miss America 1984, actress Vanessa Williams was the first African American to win the coveted title. Later she was stripped of her winning for posing nude for Penthouse magazine.


Kellie Pickler

Winner of the Miss Stanly County, N.C. pageant , country singer Kellie Pickler went on to compete for Miss North Carolina. Although she didn’t win, it did prepare her for American Idol.

Eva Longoria

Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria was crowned Miss Corpus Christi while a student at Texas A&M University in 1998.


Oprah won the 1971 Miss Fire Prevention and Miss Black Tennessee titles. The famous media mogul thrilled judges when they asked what she’d do with a million dollars. Her response – “I’d be a spending fool!” She went on to compete in the Miss Black America contest.

Nancy O’ Dell

Miss South Carolina 1987, co-anchor of Entertainment Tonight O’Dell also competed in the Miss America Pageant, showing off her vocal skills during the talent component of the competition. Unfortunately, she did not place among the semi-finalists.

Diane Sawyer

Winner of America’s Junior Miss 1963, Sawyer used her pageant scholarship money to attend Wellesley College. She is now the anchor of ABC News.

Jeri Ryan

Actress Jeri Ryan was named Miss Illinois in 1989. She was also third runner-up in the Miss America pageant in 1990. She wowed the judges and won the preliminary swimsuit competition, however.

Tiffani Amber Thiessen

Saved By The Bell actress Tiffani Amber Thiessan won Miss Junior America 1987. The next year, a modeling competition sparked her acting career.

Sharon Stone

Actress Sharon Stone won Miss Crawford County in Meadville, Pennsylvania and clung to the advice of one judge, who told her to pursue a modeling career in the Big Apple.

Vanessa Minnillo

TV host Vanessa Minnillo held the title of Miss South Carolina Teen USA in 1998 and moved on to win the Miss Teen USA title in the same year.

Kristin Chenoweth

Crooner and star of Wicked, Kristin Chenoweth was named Miss OCU while attending Oklahoma City University. In 1991, she was second runner-up at the Miss Oklahoma pageant.


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