When Vanessa Williams became the first African American to capture the Miss America crown, in 1983, fans hailed her triumph as a blow to the pageant's racial barriers. But within months, her reign was marred by scandal. On July 23, 1984, nude photographs of Williams snapped the previous year during her stint as a photographer's assistant surfaced in the pages of Penthouse. Amid mounting pressure from pageant officials and sponsors, Williams resigned her crown. Though the tawdry episode became a pop-culture punch line The Simpsons alluded to it twice Williams rebounded smoothly, recording a slew of hits during a successful singing career and racking up acting credits punctuated by her current star turn on the sitcom Ugly Betty.