18 Famous Faces Who Started Out As Beauty Queens

Published on 09/09/2021
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Every Hollywood star has to start somewhere, whether it’s in commercials, reality television, or knowing someone in the industry. These well-known personalities, on the other hand, created a name for themselves in the world of beauty pageants. Find out who won the crown and what they’ve been up to since then (and while you’re at it, check out the lives of other famous people like Marilyn Monroe, Julie Andrews, and Audrey Hepburn!)

18 Famous People Who Began Their Careers As Beauty Queens

18 Famous People Who Began Their Careers As Beauty Queens

THEN: Diane Sawyer

Diane Sawyer, a Kentucky native, had a wonderful year in 1963. She went on to win the title of America’s Junior Miss after winning the Kentucky Junior Miss Pageant. Diane is now the anchorwoman for ABC World News.

THEN: Diane Sawyer

THEN: Diane Sawyer

NOW: Diane Sawyer

She has risen to become one of the most well-known journalists in the world since her pageant days. Millions have praised her achievements, and she was even inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1997.

NOW: Diane Sawyer

NOW: Diane Sawyer

THEN: Lynda Carter

Lynda won Miss World USA in 1972 and went on to represent the United States in the Miss World competition. Despite the fact that she did not win the major prize, her achievements garnered her national recognition.

THEN: Lynda Carter

THEN: Lynda Carter

NOW: Lynda Carter

Lynda Carter debuted as Wonder Woman in the television series Wonder Woman in the mid-1970s, becoming one of the most well-known faces in the world of superhero fans. Lynda Carter has been politically involved as well as active in her music career in recent years. Her most recent album, Red Rock N’Blues, was published in 2018, and it has her daughter singing on a handful of tunes.

NOW: Lynda Carter

NOW: Lynda Carter

THEN: Michelle Pfeiffer

Michelle Pfeiffer (seen on the television behind the cohosts of The View) was named Miss Orange County in 1978 at the age of 19 years old. She went on to represent California in the Miss America competition.

THEN: Michelle Pfeiffer

THEN: Michelle Pfeiffer

NOW: Michelle Pfeiffer

Michelle went on to feature in blockbusters like Batman Begins, Dangerous Liaisons, and What Lies Beneath after her debut performance in the 1983 classic Scarface. Claudia Rose, 27, and John Henry, 25, are Pfeiffer’s adult children from her marriage to TV producer David E. Kelley.

NOW: Michelle Pfeiffer

NOW: Michelle Pfeiffer

THEN: Vanna White

White was active in pageantry even before her stint on television or the major break in her now successful career. Vanna was a participant in the 1978 Miss Georgia pageant while she was in her early twenties. Despite the fact that she did not win any awards at the pageant, we all think of her as a real beauty.

THEN: Vanna White

THEN: Vanna White

NOW: Vanna White

Vanna’s personal life has changed dramatically over the course of her 38 seasons as a hostess. In 1990, she married George Santo Pietro. In 1992, she revealed she was expecting a child, but she miscarried. Vanna later had a son named Nicholas and a daughter named Gigi. In 2002, Vanna and George divorced. From 2004 until 2006, she was in a relationship with Michael Kaye. In 2012, the hostess married John Donaldson.

NOW: Vanna White

NOW: Vanna White

THEN: Vanessa Williams

In 1983, Vanessa Williams has crowned Miss New York. Williams made history when she was named the first African American Miss America on September 17, 1983, six months after entering her first beauty pageant. She received a $25,000 scholarship, as well as immediate celebrity and product sponsorships.

THEN: Vanessa Williams

THEN: Vanessa Williams

NOW: Vanessa Williams

Vanessa went on to have a hugely successful career in television after leaving the pageant scene, garnering Emmy and SAG nominations. Wilhelmina Slater, the fashion queen everyone hated on Ugly Betty, was one of her most memorable roles.

NOW: Vanessa Williams

NOW: Vanessa Williams

THEN: Sarah Palin

The 1984 beauty pageant swimsuit competition footage of Sarah Palin has surfaced on the internet. An Alaskan claims to have posted film showing Sarah Palin in a red tank suit competing in the 1984 Miss Alaska pageant. She walks out, turns around, travels a little more, turns around again, and walks away.

THEN: Sarah Palin

THEN: Sarah Palin

NOW: Sarah Palin

Palin’s memoir was a top bestselling book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble before it was even released in 2009. Palin, 57, is a politician, pundit, author, and reality television star from the United States. Sarah Palin started her own internet news network, the Sarah Palin Channel, in 2014, after campaigning unsuccessfully with John McCain in the 2008 presidential election and resigned from her role as Governor of Alaska in 2009.

NOW: Sarah Palin

NOW: Sarah Palin

THEN: Halle Berry

Halle was crowned Miss Teen All American in 1985 and Miss Ohio USA in 1986, before finishing second in the Miss USA pageant the following year. Her interview received the highest score from the judges that year, indicating that she would have a career in which she could be heard.

THEN: Halle Berry

THEN: Halle Berry

NOW: Halle Berry

Halle Berry, the ’90s and ’00s style queen, has revealed another another of her fashion thoughts on Instagram. The actress uploaded a snapshot of herself resting on the beach, showing her body in a chevron-patterned tan-and-coral bikini, proving she’s the queen of appearing youthful and effortlessly perfect. “If it involves a bikini, my answer is always yes please!” she said in the post.

NOW: Halle Berry

NOW: Halle Berry

THEN: Eva Longoria

After competing in and winning the Miss Corpus Christi USA pageant in 1998, Eva Longoria used pageantry to launch her career in television and film. She went on to compete in Miss Texas USA after winning, which brought her to Los Angeles. She was there because she had been signed by a theatrical agency.

THEN: Eva Longoria

THEN: Eva Longoria

NOW: Eva Longoria

Eva has starred in a number of films and television series, but she is most recognized for her part in Desperate Housewives as the selfish yet loving Gabrielle Solis. The Hollywood Reporter honored her Philanthropist of the Year when she founded Eva’s Heroes, a charity that helps developmentally challenged children.

NOW: Eva Longoria

NOW: Eva Longoria

THEN: Olivia Culpo

She went on to win the Miss USA pageant on June 3, 2012, after winning the Miss Rhode Island USA competition on her first attempt. Culpo competed in the Miss Universe pageant on December 19, 2012, in Las Vegas, Nevada, representing the United States. She was the first American woman to win the tournament since 1997, and she was the seventh representative from the United States to do so. Culpo is also the first Rhode Islander to win the championship.

THEN: Olivia Culpo

THEN: Olivia Culpo

NOW: Olivia Culpo

Olivia has subsequently established herself as a model and influencer in the fashion industry. She starred alongside Devon Windsor, Nadine Leopold, and Shanina Shaik in the E! reality show Model Squad in 2018. Culpo rose to fame as a social media celebrity after garnering a large following on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. She has worked as an influencer for numerous cosmetics and fashion companies, including L’Oréal, Kipling, and Uberliss.

NOW: Olivia Culpo

NOW: Olivia Culpo

THEN: Candice Bergen

Candice, while being born into a Hollywood family, did not begin her career in the film industry until after she completed her schooling at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was awarded Miss University in 1963.

THEN: Candice Bergen

THEN: Candice Bergen

NOW: Candice Bergen

Candice made her on-screen debut in The Group three years after she took the throne. She’s since become well-known for her roles in films such as Carnal Knowledge and Miss Congeniality, as well as on television in Murphy Brown.

NOW: Candice Bergen

NOW: Candice Bergen

THEN: Priyanka Chopra

Priyanka was named Miss India in 2000 and went on to win the coveted Miss World title later that year. At the age of 18, India’s Priyanka Chopra won the contest. Her predecessor, Yukta Mookhey, also from India, crowned her. She is her country’s fifth Miss World winner and the second in a row.

THEN: Priyanka Chopra

THEN: Priyanka Chopra

NOW: Priyanka Chopra

Priyanka Chopra became one of India’s most popular actors after her reign as Miss World ended. She has starred in films such as Baywatch and Isn’t It Romantic and was cast on Quantico on ABC in 2015.

NOW: Priyanka Chopra

NOW: Priyanka Chopra

THEN: Michelle Yeoh

Yeoh won the Miss Malaysia beauty contest at the age of 20 in 1983. She flew to Australia later that year and won two more beauty pageants, “Queen of the Pacific” and “Miss Moomba.” She also represented Malaysia at the Miss World pageant in London in 1983.

THEN: Michelle Yeoh

THEN: Michelle Yeoh

NOW: Michelle Yeoh

Michelle Yeoh Choo-kheng, PSM is a Malaysian actress who gained to prominence in Hong Kong action films in the 1990s. She is most recognized for her performances in James Bond flicks Tomorrow Never Dies and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, as well as contemporary worldwide English-language films and series.

NOW: Michelle Yeoh

NOW: Michelle Yeoh

THEN: Lee Meriwether

Lee Ann Meriwether (born May 27, 1935) is an actress and former model from the United States. She was the winner of the Miss America competition in 1955. She is most remembered for her role in the 1970s crime thriller Barnaby Jones as Betty Jones, Buddy Ebsen’s secretary and daughter-in-law.

THEN: Lee Meriwether

THEN: Lee Meriwether

NOW: Lee Meriwether

Meriwether now resides in Los Angeles with her actor/playwright husband Marshall Borden. She has one grandchild and two adult daughters (stuntwoman Lesley Aletter and actress Kyle Oldham). She’s been a part of Theatrical West, Los Angeles’ longest continuously running theatre group, for years, and last year she starred in Passionate Ladies as a stripper (in a black leotard). She continues to appear in films, including Michael Landon Jr.’s The Ultimate Life (2013), which she co-starred in with James Garner.

NOW: Lee Meriwether

NOW: Lee Meriwether

THEN: Vanessa Lachey

Vanessa decided to focus on the Miss South Carolina beauty pageant in 1996 as her life became more stable. She had enjoyed cheerleading since she was a youngster and was ecstatic to be able to perform in front of a crowd. She effortlessly won over the judges with her unpretentious approach and genuine ebullience, sweeping all of the categories before taking home the title. She participated in the Miss Teen USA pageant two years later, on August 17, 1998.

THEN: Vanessa Lachey

THEN: Vanessa Lachey

NOW: Vanessa Lachey

Vanessa has focused on education, acting, and modeling in the three years since she handed over her Miss Teen USA crown. She has a bright future ahead of her, and she was just named one of the finalists in E!’s search for a replacement for Brooke Burke as hostess of the show Wild On.. (1997). Despite the fact that Cindy Taylor was finally hired, Vanessa left a strong impression on “Wild On…” viewers all around the world and intends to continue working in television for a long time. Vanessa began dating singer Nick Lachey in 2006, shortly after his divorce from Jessica Simpson was finalized. They married in 2011 and have three children together.

Now: Vanessa Lachey

NOW: Vanessa Lachey

THEN: Gal Gadot

Gal participated in the Miss Israel competition in 2004 after serving in the Israeli army. In the same year, she competed in the Miss Universe pageant but did not win the title. “They approached me and gave me the opportunity to participate in the pageant. I entered for the experience, but when I won, I was really overwhelmed, and then I had to compete in the Miss Universe pageant “On Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Gal stated!

THEN: Gal Gadot

THEN: Gal Gadot

NOW: Gal Gadot

Gal went on to work in Israel as an actor and model. She made her cinematic debut as Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2009. She began starring in the Fast & Furious franchise films in 2009.

NOW: Gal Gadot

NOW: Gal Gadot

THEN: Ali Landry

Landry won Miss Louisiana USA in 1996, making her the first former Miss Louisiana Teen USA to win the Miss Teen USA title. She went on to participate in the 1996 Miss USA pageant, which was televised live from South Padre Island, Texas in February 1996 – she finished third in the preliminary competition and second in the final Top 10 competition on average. She finished first out of the Top 6 finalists and went on to win the championship in 1996.

THEN: Ali Landry

THEN: Ali Landry

NOW: Ali Landry

Ali went on to become an actress and TV personality after winning Miss USA. Her first leading part was in the comedy Eve in 1998, and she has subsequently been in a number of films. In a Doritos ad in 1998, she also received national attention.

NOW: Ali Landry

NOW: Ali Landry

THEN: Kenya Moore

The 42nd Miss USA pageant took place on February 19, 1993, at the Century II Convention Center in Wichita, Kansas, and was broadcast live on television. Kenya Moore of Michigan was named champion by Shannon Marketic of California at the end of the final competition. Moore is the second Miss USA winner from Michigan and the first African-American woman to win the crown.

THEN: Kenya Moore

THEN: Kenya Moore

NOW: Kenya Moore

Kenya has worked as an actor and model since her time as Miss USA, but she is most known for her role on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Atlanta, which she has featured in since 2012. She was a competitor on The Apprentice in 2015.

NOW: Kenya Moore

NOW: Kenya Moore

THEN: Sophia Loren

Loren entered the Miss Italia 1950 beauty pageant as Sofia Lazzaro at the age of 15 and was allocated as Candidate #2, one of four candidates representing the Lazio area. She was chosen as one of the final three candidates and was named “Miss Elegance 1950,” while Liliana Cardinale was named “Miss Cinema,” and Anna Maria Bugliari was named “Miss Italia.” In 2001, she returned to the pageant as head of the jury for the 61st edition. Loren was crowned the 71st Miss Italia pageant winner in 2010.

THEN: Sophia Loren

THEN: Sophia Loren

NOW: Sophia Loren

The 86-year-old actor was seeking a personal connection to a script. Then her director son and the Netflix drama “The Life Ahead” were on the scene. Madame Rosa, an Italian Holocaust survivor, takes in and eventually interacts with a Senegalese orphan, Momo, in Loren’s third collaboration with Ponti, “The Life Ahead” (Ibrahima Gueye).

NOW: Sophia Loren

NOW: Sophia Loren

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