Whether it’s Miss America, Miss USA, or Miss World, some beauty queens win their title, and use their fame to either retire comfortably, or raise children or spread goodwill through charity. Others become judges or other workers in the pageant industry, and still other beauty queens became household names with roles on TV and in film. You may know of Vanessa Williams as a former beauty queen, but did you know about these beauty queens? Here’s what they looked like then and what they look like now.
Frances “Lu” Parker won Miss USA in 1994, then competed at Miss Universe. While she lost that pageant, she used her fame to launch a career in television. She’s worked in the TV industry for over 15 years as an anchor and reported in Los Angeles on KTLA Channel 5. She’s also appeared on Larry King Live and E! Parker founded a foundation dedicated to helping at-risk youth and animals.
In 1997, Jebbia entered the Miss Massachusetts pageant, her first attempt at a title, and won. The Miss USA pageant followed and she won that one as well, securing Massachusetts’ first Miss USA win as well. She was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease and the illness caused her to loss part of her hearing. She used this loss as a chance to be a spokesperson for a hearing company by traveling all over the world. She currently works as a medical esthetician, and is reportedly completing her Master’s in nursing.
Kenya Moore won Miss USA in 1993, and later finished in the top six of the Miss Universe pageant the same year. She was the second African-American woman to be crowned Miss USA, and used the pageant success to appear in a number of films. Audiences were able to see her in television shows including Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Smart Guy, The Jamie Foxx Show, and more. She also appeared in movies such as I Know Who Killed Me and Waiting to Exhale, then in 2008, she launched her own media company. Now she is a cast member of Bravo’s Real Housewives of Atlanta.
Brandi Sherwood held both the titles Miss Idaho Teen USA and Miss USA, and was the first woman to ever do so. She won Miss USA in 1997, and had a high profile job as a model on The Price is Right, until she was pregnant. She alleged the show refused to let her return to the show after the birth of her twins, and won a lawsuit against the producers, but the winnings were stripped when the court ordered the case be reheard. She is married to actor Dean Cochran.
Marian McKnight did a Marilyn Monroe-inspired act in the talent portion of the 1957 Miss America pageant and it likely snagged her the title. She went on to appear as a television spokesperson for brands like Revlon, Evan-Piccone, Philco, General Foods, and V.H. Monette and Co., then she dove into entrepreneurial and charity work. She helped found the Amie Karen Center for Children and also opened up a winery, Carmody McKnight, with her husband, actor Gary Carmody. Their wine has won multiple awards and the couple has two children.
Shanna Moakler was one of the youngest winners of Miss USA at just 19 years old. She turned to acting and modeling and married Blink 182’s Travis Barker. Moakler and Barker are embroiled in a nasty divorce, with Barker accusing her of child endangerment.
Sushmita Sen was virtually unknown when she arrived at Miss Universe 1994 as 18 year-old Miss India. She shocked everyone by winning, despite wearing whatever she and her family could muster up on a modest budget. Sen went on to be a Bollywood Star.
Another Indian beauty became a star in 1994, when Aishwarya Rai won Miss World. She then became a well-known Bollywood actress and later served as the first Indian to be a judge at Cannes. She is also a Goodwill ambassador.
Crystle Stewart was Miss USA 2008. Although she has a degree in consumer science and merchandising, she made inroads into acting. She starred in OWN’s For Better or For Worse.
Terry Lynn Huntingdon
Terry Lynn Huntingdon was Miss USA 1959. She later became an actress before changing careers, moving to Washington DC to become a photographer in the employ of the US Government.
Wendy Dascomb was Miss USA 1969. She moved to North Carolina, where she pursued teaching and tutoring. She has five children and now teaches hunters how to ride horses.
Theresa Vail competed in Miss USA 2013 as the representative of Kansas. She became the first contestant to show her tattoos during competition. Vail is a bowhunter, marksmen, hunter and boxer.
Bobbi Johnson was Miss USA 1964. She pivoted and became a systems engineer at GE. Later Johnson passed her CPA exam and became an accountant.
American Sylvia Hitchcock was Miss Universe in 1967. She later worked as a model in print and TV advertisements. She and her husband became environmentalists who created eco-friendly products. She died in 2015. They had three children.
Julie Hayek was known for being a knockout in a bathing suit during both Miss USA and Miss Universe. She graduated from UCLA and later appeared on TV shows like Matlock, Dallas, Twin Peaks, Hunter and The Tonight Show. Later in life she moved to NYC and became a stock broker.
Olivia Culpo was Miss Universe 2012. The still-young woman has since dabbled in acting, modeling and hosting, while also being a spokesperson for several charities around the world. For awhile, she dated Nick Jonas, but the two have seen broken up. She also dated Tim Tebow.
Lauren Nelson was 2007’s Miss America. Nelson is now a news anchor in Oklahoma. She made headlines again by teaming with America’s Most Wanted John Walsh to hunt down internet sexual predators, helping to put several dangerous people behind bars.
Ericka Dunlap was the first African American to win Miss Florida. She went on to win Miss America in 2004. She later competed on CBS’ The Amazing Race and is now a philanthropist. She also made a few appearances in movies such as District 9.
If Gretchen Polhemus looks familiar, that’s because she was an on-camera reporter for ESPN for over 10 years. She first became famous as Miss USA 1989. She now hosts a show called Good Things Utah.
In 1998, Katherine Shindle won Miss America. She then became an advocate for AIDS prevention and awareness. She has now embarked on a career on Broadway, where she played the Madhatter in Wonderland: Alice’s New Adventure and Sally Bowles in Cabaret. Her memoir, Being Miss America: Behind the Rhinestone Curtain, was published in 2014.
Barbara Peterson was Miss USA 1976. She finished college with a triple major and worked in marketing. Peterson became a producer on local Minnesota news for 25 years and later wrote a book on how to become a beauty queen.
Following her pageant win in 2003, the former Miss America and Harvard Law School graduate ran for national office, seeking to represent the 13th District of Illinois in the House of Representatives. She’s currently an attorney in Illinois.
The winner of Miss World 2000 was Priyanka Chopra from India. Chopra went on to be a groundbreaker, first by acting in her native India, and now becoming the first South Asian woman to headline an American TV series, Quantico, which has proven to be a huge hit for ABC.
TV host Vanessa Minnillo was a beauty queen, as she won Miss Teen USA in 1998. She went on to host TRL (Total Request Live) MTV and also was an Entertainment Tonight correspondent. She appeared on shows like 30 Rock, Psych and The Bold and the Beautiful. She married Nick Lachey in 2011, and has two children with the entertainer.
Eva Longoria got her start in pageants, winning Miss Corpus Christie in 1998. She got her first big acting job on Young & the Restless before starring in Desperate Housewives on ABC. She’s now on the NBC show Telenova.