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Offstage Archive
People on PNB: April - June 2002

Kristel Jenkins has become engaged to Josh Wittensoldner. She represented Virginia in the 1995 Miss Teen USA Pageant and the 2001 Miss USA Pageant. Ms. Jenkins is a graduate of Radford University and currently resides in Charlotte, where she works in the financial industry Wittensoldner is a graduate of the University of Akron and works for a major telecommunications company. The two will marry on on May 24, 2003, in Roanoke, Va.

Miss Universe 1988, Pornthip Nakhirankanok of Thailand, reportedly plans to marry an American billionaire whose niece was once her college classmate. He is Herb Simon, a developer who is said to have a large financial interest in professional football. At 57, he is more than 20 years older than the former beauty queen. Ms. Nakhirankanok, known popularly in Thailand as "Pui" or "P'Pui," spent much of her youth in the United States, and graduated from Pepperdine University in California. She reportedly knew Simon's niece in college and met him at the graduation.

On the FOX television program "American Idol: Search for the Star" on June 11 and 12, 2002, several pageant winners were featured. Miss Vicksburg (Miss.) 2001, Melanie Sanders; Miss Atlanta 1998, Tamyra Gray; and Miss Burleson (Texas) 2002, Kristin Holt, all sang their way to the next round in the combination talent search/reality show. Karen Michelle Long, the current Miss Oktoberfest, who was Miss West Virginia USA 2001, did not advance.

Miss Poland, Joanna Drozdowska, plays a comic character in a movie based on the Polish version of "Big Brother."

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  • The newly crowned Miss Universe, Oxana Fedorova of Russia, appears in the pages of the June 10, 2002, issue of Time magazine. The magazine describes her graduation from a Russian police academy and her ability to use a firearm.
  • Liane Nanea Kanani Mark, 24, Miss Downtown Honolulu, is featured in a two-page article in the June 10, 2002, issue of People magazine. The article discusses her diagnosis of the early stages of multiple sclerosis. She was last year's first runner-up at Miss Hawaii, and was Hawaii's Junior Miss 1995. She is making her fourth and final attempt at the Miss Hawaii title on June 7, 2002.

TV alert

Ally Estergard, Miss Illinois Teen America 2001, will appear on the Nickelodeon Noggin Network show "A Walk in Your Shoes." In keeping with the program's theme, she traded places with a high school champion goat roper, Amy Mott of Texas. Ms. Estergard went to Texas, learned to tie goats and competed in the Region III Finals at the historic Cowtown Coliseum in the Fort Worth Stockyards. Ms. Mott went to Louisville, Ky., where she competed at the Miss Teen America Tri State Pageant. Air dates (EDT) are June 17, 2002, at 8 p.m.; June 19 at 10 p.m.; June 20 at 1 a.m.; June 21 at 930 p.m.; June 22 at 1230 a.m.; June 23 at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Check local listings.

Efforts to reach an out-of-court settlement between the Miss America Organization and former CEO Robert Beck apparently have failed. Beck's suit against the pageant for alleged wrongful termination will go forward. The case was to have been heard in April 2002, but a judge delayed it for negotiations. The case is being closely watched in the pageant world for what it may reveal about the inner workings of the pageant.

Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, a Swiss tycoon whose marriage to a former beauty queen helped make him controversial in Europe, died on April 27, 2002, at age 81. The baron ran an industrial empire and possessed one of the world's great art collections. But he and his fifth wife, Carmen Cervera, who was Miss Spain 1962, were often targets of media gossip and criticism. This was especially true after he made Spain his base and the home of his collection. "The Baron and the Beauty Queen" was a frequent headline in European tabloids. Much of the notoriety eventually faded. He is survived by his widow, the pageant star who became an aristocrat.


TV alert

Miss USA 1996, Ali Landry, will host "Spy-TV," the latest installment of a hidden-camera special, at 8 p.m. Eastern (7 Central) on NBC on June 4, 2002. Check local listings.

CBS will air its "Survivor" finale for 2002 on May 19. One of the four finalists, is a judge from Georgia, Paschal English, whose daughter Rachel was Miss Georgia 1995. Check local listings.

Cloris Leachman, who at age 20 was Miss Chicago and a semi-finalist in the 1946 Miss America Pageant, will make a guest appearance on the "Mary Tyler Moore" reunion special on May 13, 2002, on CBS. Ms. Leachman, a longtime actress, gained fame in the 1970s series, playing Mary Richards' neighbor and landlady Phyllis Lindstrom. Her work on the series brought her four Emmy nominations and two Emmy Awards. She will reminisce with cast members Mary Tyler Moore, Ed Asner, Valerie Harper, Gavin MacLeod, Betty White, and Georgia Engel during the one-hour special. Check local listings.

Miss America 2002, Katie Marie Harman of Oregon, is the guest and featured dinner speaker at the National Press Club in Washington on May 3, 2002. The program is likely to be shown tape-delayed on C-SPAN or C-SPAN 2 the same night, and perhaps later. Check local listings.

The ABC program "Before They Were Stars," in its episode of April 28, 2002, will look at some former pageant winners who became successful entertainers. Among them are Michelle Pfeiffer and Halle Berry.

Maria Menounos, who was Miss Massachusetts Teen USA 1996, has signed a deal with Paramount Television to become a reporter for "Entertainment Tonight." She will conduct celebrity interviews and report on the entertainment industry. Ms. Menounos, now based in California, was until recently an anchor for Channel One News. She is also a feature film producer, as well as the co-founder and executive director of Take Action Hollywood!, an organization dedicated to mobilizing celebrities and industry professionals to effect social change.

America's National Teen-Ager (Senior), Meagan Elizabeth Corlin of Strafford, N.H., has been selected as a regional winner in the 2002 Toyota Community Scholars Program and has been awarded a $10,000 college scholarship for her community service work including the founding of her non-profit "Star-Might Foundation." Only 100 individuals were selected to receive this award from more than 11,000 applicants. To receive her award, she will travel to Louisville, Ky., for the Recognition Weekend with all 100 regional recipients. Ms. Corlin is an 18-year-old high school senior who plans to begin classes at the University of Rhode Island in autumn 2002.


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  • Former Miss Teen USA Kelly Hu, starring in the new film "The Scorpion King," is the cover girl of the May 2002 issue of Maxim magazine. Inside is a sexy pictorial.
  • Kelly Hu, Miss Teen USA 1985, is the cover girl for the March/April 2002 issue of Total Movie and Entertainment magazine. She appears semi-nude in a feature inside. The appearance is part of publicity for her new movie "The Scorpion King," set in ancient Egypt.

Voiceover artist and singer B.J. Baker, who was married to entertainer Mickey Rooney and sang backup with such performers as Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Sam Cooke, died April 2, 2002. She was 74. As Betty Jane Rase, she was Miss Birmingham 1944 and fourth runner-up to Miss America. She met Rooney during World War II while he was in Alabama for military training. They married shortly before he shipped out to a combat zone. The marriage lasted only a few years, but the couple had two sons, including Mickey Rooney Jr.

Amanda Carraway, who was Miss Kansas Teen USA 1996 and Miss Kansas USA 1999, married Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Monty Beisel on April 13, 2002, in Kansas City. Angelique Breaux, Miss California USA 1999, was the maid of honor. Keylee Sanders Hochberg, Miss Teen USA 1995, was the bride's personal attendant. Leah Sexton, Miss Missouri Teen USA 1996, and Melana Scantlin, the reigning Miss Missouri USA, also were in attendance. The couple will honeymoon in Hawaii.

Pageant entrepreneur Tony Caine, co-founder of the Miss United States Teen organization, died on April 12, 2002. He had recently undergone treatment for cancer. Caine's background as a hairstylist showed in the lavish production of all his events, and he was one of the fast-rising figures in pageantry in the past five years. His organization will continue under the leadership of his partner, Fred Goble. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Tony Caine Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o the Miss United States Teen Organization, 6239 Edgewater Drive, Suite D-12, Orlando, FL 32810.

Frederick C. Setzer, Sr, 87, husband of Miss America 1933, Marion Bergeron Setzer, died in Kettering, Ohio, on March 31, 2002.

Joan "Jody" Elizabeth Stuttuck Sodel, Miss Georgia 1957 and first runner-up to Miss America 1958, Marilyn Elaine Van Derbur of Colorado, died April 3, 2002, in Marietta, Ga. Her physical resemblance to Ms. Van Derbur was noted by many at the time of the pageant.


TV alert

  • Beauty queen Jenna Edwards, who has gained fame by "crowning" seriously ill young girls, appears on "Oprah" on April 1, 2002.
  • Miss USA 1985 and "Mulholland Drive" actress Laura Elana Martinez Herring will be a guest on the Celebrity Fashion Police program with comic Joan Rivers on the E! Network through April 5, 2002. The program discusses fashion statements and who wore what during the 2002 Academy Awards program. Ms. Martinez Herring herself made a statement by wearing more than $26 million worth of diamonds and other jewelry at the awards.

Denise M. "Dee" Henderson, who is Mrs. Iowa International and was Mrs. Minnesota International 1999, is the subject of a criminal investigation in Iowa into whether she gained compensation by overstating her disability from an automobile accident. Mrs. Henderson has settled a dispute with her insurance company over the matter. As in all such matters, she is innocent until proven guilty.

Erika Howe, Mrs. Texas United States 2000, a successful former local director for Miss Texas USA/Miss Texas Teen USA, and a working print model and commercial actress, recently shot a print promotional campaign for Kroger Food Stores and Chrysler/Jeep that will run late spring/early summer. She will be featured on 20 billboards, store life-size cutouts and direct mail pieces in the Southeastern United States.

Janice McQueen Ward, who was Mrs. United States 1999-2000, will appear on the soap opera "The Bold and the Beautiful" on April 12, 2002. She also will appear in a commercial for the Mervyn's department store chain beginning in March 2002.


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  • There is a small one-paragraph mention on Page 142 of the April 2002 issue of Glamour magazine called "Bravo, beauty queens." It discusses how in many countries, winning a beauty pageant is the only way to "status" in certain countries. Former Miss Universe Mpule Kwelagobe is pictured, along with a quote from her about her work in Botswana trying to prevent AIDS.
  • The April 2002 issue of Ebony magazine has a feature on "Black College Queens."
  • Jenna Edwards, a former Miss Teen All American and former Miss Oktoberfest, is featured in a two-page story in the March 7, 2002, issue of People magazine, the one with Rosie O'Donnell on the cover. Ms. Edwards' "Queen for a Day" program -- which crowns Mississippi children and teenagers suffering from life-threatening cancer as pageant winners -- is spotlighted. (The program inspired one of PNB's most memorable photos of 1991.) Her aspirations for the Miss America crown are also highlighted.
  • The March 2002 issue of Indianapolis Woman Magazine has a four-page article on Indiana native Nicole Brink, the reigning Mrs. World.
  • Miss New Jersey USA 2000, Michelle Graci, won the model cover search for "101 Hairstyles" magazine, and is featured on the cover of the issue that is out through March 2002. She is also the subject of a three-page spread inside.
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