It might have been the lowest point in her life, as she told People in , but the scandal that led Vanessa Williams to resign her post as Miss America also set her up for one of the greatest comebacks in entertainment history. But they did leave the studio, partly because she was identifiable: photos of Miss America in compromising positions, some of them involving another nude woman, were worth their weight in gold. TIME reported that the photographer was paid more than Penthouse had ever paid for a photo spread before. The statement that Williams ultimately made was that she was more than a racy photo spread — and more than Miss America.
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Miss America From 1921 to Present: Meet All the Winners (Photos)
Photos: 54th annual Academy of Country Music Awards red carpet arrivals. Nude photographs of Miss Williams and another woman surfaced, forcing her to relinquish her title. Williams is holding a press conference to resign her Miss America title. She wears her crown and a mink coat.
NEW YORK -- Vanessa Williams, who relinquished her Miss America crown when Penthouse magazine published sexually explicit photos of her, also had posed nude for another photographer, a Penthouse magazine spokesman said today. Miss Williams said her decision to resign was precipitated by the fear that the second set of pictures would be made public and 'people wouldn't forgive me for a second mistake,' The New York Times reported. Those pictures, taken by photographer Greg Whitman, were scheduled for publication in the January edition of Penthouse, said Sy Presten, a spokesman for the magazine's owner, Bob Guccione. In addition, Presten said previously unreleased photographs of Miss Williams taken by Tom Chiapel, who photographed the first nude session, will be published in November. Chiapel's first session had photographs of Miss Williams posing nude with another woman and were published in the September issue of the magazine. The pictures forced Miss Williams' resignation.
NEW YORK -- Vanessa Williams, whose nude photos in Penthouse led to her abdication as Miss America, said today she was hopeful her future would be filled with success because 'there is no where to go but up. Miss Williams, the first black Miss America, stepped down Monday under pressure from pageant officials after the sexually explicit photos of her and another woman were printed in Penthouse. Miss Williams said she never gave permission for the pictures taken in to be printed and gave up her title because she did not 'want any kind of battle or fight or division with the people who supported me. I got to say my side of the story,' said Miss Williams, 21, of Millwood, N. Her words of support, courage and pride have made it worthwhile. Miss Williams said she enjoyed her month reign and felt she did a 'great job. It was rough,' she said of the controversy. This is rock bottom and there's nowhere else to go but up. You can't stop. You can't quit.