Last night, singer-actress Vanessa Williams returned to the Miss America Pageant as the head judge, as well as a performer. As expected, Williams received a long-overdue apology for what happened following her 32-year-old Penthouse photo scandal, which caused her to ditch her crown in 1984 after becoming the nation’s first black Miss America less than one year prior.
After covering Amy Grant’s “Oh How the Years Go By,” Williams was joined by Miss America’s CEO, Sam Haskell, who hopped onstage to smooth things over:
I have been a close friend of this beautiful and talented lady for 32 years. 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. … 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, Sam. So unexpected, but so beautiful. I did the best that I could, in my reign as Miss America, from 1983 to 1984,” Williams said, in acceptance. Watch the whole exchange above.
As for the pageant itself, Miss Georgia, Betty Cantrell, took home the crown this year.