FROM SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, TEXAS
Pride of Louisiana wins Miss USA
Ali Landry, 22, (left) representing Louisiana, won the Miss USA Pageant on Friday night, Feb. 2, 1996, on South Padre Island, Texas. She will compete for the Miss Universe crown in Las Vegas on May 17.
Ms. Landry was also named Miss Photogenic, based on votes of pageant fans communicating by phone and through the Internet. She was Miss Louisiana Teen USA in 1990 and was a semifinalist at the Miss Teen USA Pageant.
Ali Landry wearing her new crown and sash.
Copyright © 1996 Arlyne Q. Peters / Pageant News Bureau.
See more photos of her moment of triumph and crowning.
Courtesy of Miss Universe, Inc.
Danielle Boatwright, 20, (left) representing Kansas, was first runner-up, while Becca Lee, 24, of Tennessee was second runner-up.
Ku'ualoha Taylor, Miss Hawaii USA, was announced as the winner of this year's Miss Congeniality award.
Holly Roehl, Miss Indiana USA, was a semi-finalist.
Shauna Lyn Searles, Miss California USA, appears at the beginning of the pageant.
Miss Michigan USA, Natasha Bell, a schoolteacher and horse enthusiast, was a semifinalist and one of the six finalists.
Miss Illinois USA, Bernadette Przybycien, the daughter of Polish immigrants, was a semifinalist.
Keelin Curnuck, Miss New York USA, shows her moves during the opening number.
The Miss USA Pageant was held Feb. 2 on South Padre Island, Texas, and PNB covered the event in a way that has never been done online before. In addition to the official information that can be found on Miss USA's Web site (see our Pageant Surfing page for a link), we will provide news and features about the competition and the contestants.
We are launching our coverage, appropriately, with a profile of a contestant who is at home online: Tiffany Parks of Arkansas. She and her family have followed PNB on the Web, and we are delighted to return the compliment by following her rise in the pageant world.
At age 20, Tiffany Parks has already shown remarkable success in beauty competitions. She is the reigning Miss Arkansas USA, sharing Miss Photogenic honors at her state event. She was also Miss Arkansas Teen USA 1993.
But to some people in her home state, she remains better known for her prowess in sports. She was a standout in high school basketball, played volleyball for four years and ran hurdles in junior high school.
A newspaper writer once described her as "a coach's dream" for her performance on the basketball court. She was an all-state player, a rare honor in a sport that is one of America's most popular.
"I was a tomboy," she says of her early years. She even admits that sometimes she was teased for her interest in what some considered boyish pursuits.
Her interests are anything but boyish now. She has always enjoyed performing in the public eye, and the glamorous life of a pageant competitor has given her a new ambition: She wants to become an actress. She plans to use her pageant winnings to work toward a degree in theater arts, with an eventual career in film and the stage.
Acting is a tough business. As a career, it's a gamble. But we wouldn't bet against Tiffany Parks. She has a habit of succeeding in whatever she does.
THERE'S NOTHING LIKE EXPERIENCE
Several of this year's Miss USA contestants are veterans of the Miss Teen USA Pageant.
|Susan Barnett of Pennsylvania, Ali Landry of Louisiana, Juliette Spier of North Dakota, Tiffany Parks of Arkansas and Danielle Boatwright of Kansas all represented their respective states at Miss Teen USA. |
Holly Roehl, Miss Indiana USA, is a former Miss Georgia Teen USA. She attended high school in the Atlanta area, where her family still lives. (Her last name, by the way, is pronounced like "rail.")
Ms. Spier has a younger sister, Jessica, who has also competed in the Miss Teen USA Pageant. Because North Dakota, like several states, holds a joint preliminary for the two national pageants, the sisters shared the stage in 1995. "Jessica did her farewell as Miss North Dakota Teen USA, and five minutes later she assisted in crowning me as Miss North Dakota USA," Juliette Spier told our PNB correspondent.
Tracy Yarbrough, Miss Idaho USA, has a truly rare distinction: She has also represented her state at the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City. Although some people have the idea that Miss America and Miss USA contestants are breeds apart, many young women try their hands at both. Few, of course, do so well in both as Ms. Yarbrough has. She has been called "the Deion Sanders of pageantry." (For our readers unfamiliar with American sports, Sanders is a sports star who has played on championship teams in both baseball and football.)
Keelin Curnuck, Miss New York USA, has experience as a national beauty queen. She was Ms. Venus Swimwear two years ago, and has a worldwide following.
At least a few of this year's Miss USA contestants have almost no pageant experience. Jenny Craig of Georgia has modeled in several countries, but she has been in only one pageant in her life: Miss Georgia USA, which she won in October. "Being in a pageant was just something I wanted to do before I died," she told PNB.
Ms. Craig was also Peach Bowl queen for 1995, a title that came with her Miss Georgia USA victory. It's appropriate, she said, "because I have a quarter-sized peach tattooed on my right outside ankle." She hopes you'll be looking for it on Feb. 3.
WOMEN OF THE WEST
Miss Montana USA 1996
Miss Wyoming USA
Six winners of the Miss USA crown went on to win Miss Universe, starting with Miriam Stevenson of South Carolina in 1954. Carol Morris of Iowa won both titles in 1956, followed by Linda Bement of Utah in 1960 and Sylvia Hitchcock of Alabama in 1967.
Another South Carolinian, Shawn Weatherly (left), won Miss USA and then Miss Universe in 1980. The current Miss Universe, Chelsi Smith of Texas, is also a former Miss USA. She was crowned on South Padre Island last year and won Miss Universe a few months later in Namibia.
Several Miss USA winners have gone on to success in Hollywood. One of the best-known is Deborah Shelton (right), Miss USA 1970, a former star of the TV series "Dallas." Her appearances in several recent romantic action films show that she still has the face and figure of a pageant winner.
As preliminaries got under way on Monday, Jan. 29, 1996, Ku'ualoha Taylor, Miss Hawaii USA, was announced as the winner of this year's Miss Congeniality award. On the same night, Miss Tennessee USA, Becca Lee, won a special award from Finesse hair care products.
Our report on Miss USA contestants who have previously competed for Miss Teen USA omitted at least one name. Jill Chartier, Miss Oregon USA, was Miss Oregon Teen USA three years ago. Our thanks to Canadian pageant expert Jimmy Steele for the information.