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Vanessa Williams got death threats after winning Miss America

Larry King NowJul 05 '17

Vanessa Williams – who was the first black recipient of the Miss America title, in 1983 – recounts the death threats she received after she won, and how the scandal that ended in her relinquishing the title proved pivotal for her.

Larry King: You were the first black woman to be Miss America?

Vanessa Williams:1983.

Larry King:Yeah. Was there a downside to being the first?

Vanessa Williams: Of course. The downside is you get the brunt of all the anger. I wrote a book with my mom because I needed not only to tell my story, but my mother to tell how she was protecting me at 20 years old. I was a junior at Syracuse and I won. I had no aspirations that are being a beauty queen but me being Miss America overnight you know I had death threats, being sent to my house...

Larry King: Because of your color?

Vanessa Williams: Because of my color. Um, yeah!

Larry King: And then you lost your crown?

Vanessa Williams: Yeah, 10 months later. It all went to hell.

Larry King: Because of what? They took pictures of you?

Vanessa Williams: Well, this was before, yeah. The year before, I had taken some pictures from a photographer that I worked with in a studio. So, of course, there was no release and nobody was supposed to see them.

Larry King: Nude pictures?

Vanessa Williams: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So that was my first dumbass move.

Larry King: In a weird way, it made you.

Vanessa Williams: It made me the person who I am, absolutely.

Larry King: It raised you because it made you.You were resilient and you became doubly famous.

Vanessa Williams: I think so, and a survivor.

Larry King: Miss Americas are forgotten. Who’s Miss America three years ago? From what state?

Vanessa Williams: Oh, don’t. I don’t know.

Larry King: Very few.

Vanessa Williams: Uh huh, uh huh. Right.

Larry King: Right?

Vanessa Williams: Yeah. It made me the fighter and survivor that I am.

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