She found fame as first African-American Miss America and the first to have to give up the title
Actress and singer Vanessa Williams turns 58 today
Entertainer Vanessa Williams was born on March 18, 1963, in Bronx, New York. Williams’s parents, Milton and Helen, both worked as music educators. They moved Vanessa and her brother, Chris, to the upscale suburbs of Millwood, New York, when Vanessa was 12 months old, so they could take jobs as music teachers in Millwood’s public school system. In 1983, Vanessa Williams made history when she was crowned the first African-American Miss America. But soon thereafter, nude photos of Williams were plastered on the pages of Penthouse magazine. Horrified, the Miss America pageant board asked Williams to resign her post. Williams soon started a singing career, she signed a recording contract with PolyGram, and supporting her through the release of her 1988 album, “The Right Stuff”. The album went gold, and three singles—”The Right Stuff,” “He’s Got the Look” and “Dreamin'” all made it into the top 10. Her debut album won her the title of Best New Female Artist award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People that year, as well as three Grammy award nominations. In 1991, Williams released her second album, “The Comfort Zone”. The album sold 2.2 million copies in the U.S., eventually going triple platinum. The single “Save the Best for Last,” on the album jumped to No. 1 on the pop charts, staying there for five weeks. Critics also recognized the album, and Williams was tapped for five Grammy nominations. In 1993, her duet with R&B star Brian McKnight, “Love Is”, also met with popularity. The song spent three weeks at No. 1 on the adult contemporary charts. In the film, Williams has demonstrated a wide range of ability with movies such as “Eraser” (1996), the action flick starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the romantic comedy “Soul Food” (1997), for which she earned an Image Award. She also appeared in the Tyler Perry film “Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor” (2013). On the small screen, career highlights include her performance as Motown execute Suzanne de Passe in the TV movie “The Jacksons – An American Dream” (1992); a starring role as demanding boss Wilhelmina Slater in “Ugly Betty” (2006-10); and a recurring role as Renee Filmore-Jones in the drama “Desperate Housewives” (2010). Williams has been married three times. She married her first husband, Ramon Hervey II, in 1987. Williams and Hervey ended their marriage in 1997. They have three children together: Melanie, Jillian, and Devin. In 1999, Williams married basketball star, Rick Fox. The couple divorced in 2004 after Fox was caught with another woman by tabloid magazines. They have one child, Sasha Gabriella. In September 2014, Williams confirmed that she was engaged to Jim Skrip, her boyfriend of three years, during an appearance on The Queen Latifah Show. The couple met while vacationing in Egypt in 2012. They married on July 4th, 2015.
By Ken Warren, 2018
Look back at Vanessa Williams 1991 hit “Save The Best For Last”
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