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Vanessa Williams, former Miss America, to serve as head judge of this year's pageant

By Karen Butler
Vanessa Williams, former Miss America, to serve as head judge of this year's pageant
Vanessa Williams performs during the Opening Night Ceremony at the US Open Tennis Championships in New York City on Aug. 31, 2015. Photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J., Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Actress and singer Vanessa Williams is to serve as head judge at Sunday's Miss America pageant in Atlantic City.

Her involvement was announced Tuesday by the Miss America Organization, dick clark productions and ABC. The show will air live from Boardwalk Hall.

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This will mark Williams' first appearance at the competition since she was crowned Miss America 1984. She relinquished her title shortly before the end of her reign after Penthouse magazine bought and published unauthorized nude photographs of her. First runner-up, Suzette Charles of New Jersey, then inherited Williams' crown.

"Vanessa Williams made history by becoming the first African-American to win the competition when she was crowned Miss America 1984, and she went on to conquer the worlds of music, Broadway, television, and film," Sam Haskell, executive chairman and chief executive officer of the Miss America Organization, said in a statement. "It is a great honor to welcome her back to the competition as our head judge."

"We recognize that Vanessa's return to Miss America on Sunday, Sept. 13 is a special cultural and television moment," added Mike Mahan, president of dick clark productions. "We are both honored and excited that she will take center stage for the 95th anniversary of the competition."

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Williams, 52, will join hosts Chris Harrison and Brooke Burke-Charvet, music curator Nick Jonas and celebrity judges Brett Eldredge, Taya Kyle, Danica McKellar, Kevin O'Leary, Amy Purdy and Zendaya.

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