Miss America has lost one of its beloved queens. Miss America 1993 Leanza Cornett has died at the age of 49 after reportedly being hospitalized for a head injury.
The Miss America Organization confirmed the death of Miss America 1993 Leanza Cornett, 49, in a Facebook statement on Oct. 28. “It is with great sadness the Miss America Organization relays the news our beloved Miss America and friend, Leanza Cornett, has passed away,” the statement began. Leanza had a bright and beautiful spirit and her laugh was infectious. We know she meant so much to so many, including all of you. We are devastated by this sudden loss in our Miss America family and we are deeply sorry for her family and close friends for their loss.” Here’s what you need to know about the former Miss America.
1. Leanza died after reportedly suffering a head injury. The Miss America Organization did not release Leanza’s official cause of death. She reportedly died after being hospitalized for a head injury, according to NBC News affiliate News 4 Jax. A Facebook group called Leanza’s Circle of Love was created to keep fans updated on Leanza after she was hospitalized. The group posted on Oct. 16 that Leanza was in the ICU after she “sustained a head injury that required emergency surgery.”
2. She was a game-changing Miss America. Leanza was the first Miss America to champion AIDS awareness during her year of service. In doing that, she refused to wear her Miss America crown to public appearances. “How do you talk about practicing safe sex when you’ve got this thing on top of your head?” she said, according to PEOPLE.
3. Leanza was a TV host and appeared on many TV shows. The beauty queen was a TV host for Entertainment Tonight, New Attitudes, and Who Wants To Marry a Multi-Millionaire? She also guest-starred on shows like Saved By The Bell: The New Class, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and Weeds.
4. She was married for 17 years. Leanza married Home and Family host Mark Steines in 1995. They had two sons together, Kai and Avery. Leanza and Mark divorced after 17 years of marriage. Mark mourned her death in an Instagram post.
“It is with a heavy heart that I share with you the passing of my ex-wife, Leanza the mother to our two extraordinary sons Kai and Avery,” he wrote. “We will always remember the wonderful times shared during her short time here on earth. I find comfort knowing Kai and Avery will forever have the best guardian angel watching over them as they navigate life’s path. I ask that you please keep them as well as Leanza’s parents and her family in your prayers.”
5. Before she was Miss America, she was Miss Florida 1992. She was working in Florida in 1991. Leanza was the first actress to play a live-action version of Ariel from The Little Mermaid in the Voyage of The Little Mermaid show at Walt Disney World resort.