Happy 25 years to Vanessa Williams

It’s hard to believe. 25 years ago today, Vanessa Williams won her Miss America crown, becoming the first African American to win the award. tjndc5-5dxobsxov4k92u2eld4_original.jpg

Who knew my lame almanac e-mails would be so handy. Egypt signed the Camp David Accords with Israel in 1978 on this date too, in case you were interested.

The Miss America crown would pave the way to a Williams’ decent singing career and now her very successful acting career. She’s one of the stars of Ugly Betty on ABC and continues to shine as another gem living in Westchester.

It’s a slow news day, don’t judge me.

( Mark Vergari / InTown Westchester)

Podcast: June 19

This week: Ron Howard’s vexing problems with the Vatican, Justine Bateman’s SAG sympathies, and Vanessa Williams return to Chappaqua.

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And the quiz — which, I might add, stumped Stacy-Ann (third week in a row!) — is as follows:

Which actor from the Lower Hudson Valley appears in M. Night Shyamalan’s new thriller “The Happening”?

A. Joseph Cross, of Pelham
B. Bill Irwin, of Nyack
C. Alan Ruck, of Piermont
D. Mel Gibson, of Peekskill/Verplanck

The big trick here: ALL of these actors have, at one point or another, appeared in a Shyamalan film.

The answer, as always, is at the end of the video or after the break.

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Vanessa Williams boomerangs back to Chappaqua

You gotta feel for Vanessa Williams. And I’m not referring to the diss she got from the other Vanessa Williams (the one from “Melrose Place”) in Essence Magazine. Nor am I talking about the indignity of hosting Sunday’s 2008 TV Land Awards (dedicated to honoring such 1980s fare as “Roseanne” and “The Golden Girls”) or flying in on a wire singing songs from Peter Pan. (That, I’m pretty sure, she like doing.) No, my sympathy stems from the decision to move production of “Ugly Betty” from California to New York.


Now wait, you might think, isn’t that a good thing for her? Given that her family is based out of Chappaqua, isn’t that just about the best thing that could have happened for her?

Well, turns out that Vanessa was already well on her way to moving the whole Williams gang out west. As she told our sister publication, USA Today:

“We finally took a breath this year and got settled into a house that I love here in L.A. Sasha’s doing really well in school. And now all of a sudden we’re moving to New York.”

Williams received a call from show creator Silvio Horta informing her of the move just three days before wrapping Betty’s season finale.

“I was in shock,” says Williams, who immediately began text-messaging co-star America Ferrera (Betty). “I was like, ‘What???!’

“I think everyone assumed I’d be jumping for joy to be back home in New York, but the first thing I thought about was Sasha, who’d just had her First Communion in our new church. I was numb, and then anxiety kicked in: ‘I have to get rid of the house, ship all my cars back to New York and move 10 rooms of furniture.’ “

Perhaps the biggest problem of all: Since moving to the West Coast, daughter Sasha had been able to bond with her dad, Rick Fox of the L.A. Lakers. “Rick was active in her school and with her homework and got to be with her on a weekly level,” Williams told USA Today. “That’s going to be a huge adjustment, which we’re just going to have to make.”

While the homecoming may be bittersweet for Vanessa, we couldn’t be happier. And hey, as we related before, there’s always more than enough room in her Chappaqua house for Fox — and any other ex-husbands that are in town — to spend the night.

“Vanessa Williams moves home” [USA Today, via LoHud]

(Vanessa Williams at the TV Land Awards: AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

Podcast: May 14

On the podcast this week: George Clooney comes to Pelham, Mary J. Blige launches her own women’s center, and DMX gets arrested two times in one week. Yes, seriously, two times in one week.

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The quiz this week:

Chappaqua’s Vanessa Williams finally got her college diploma over the weekend … 25 years after she dropped out to become Miss America. Can you guess which school she graduated from?

A. Harvard
C. Syracuse
D. Howard

Now, unlike Karen DePodwin, please don’t look this up on Google. That’s called cheating, friends.

Make an honest guess, then watch the video or click through to read the answer after the break.

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Vanessa Williams graduates from Syracuse’s new 25-year degree program

Chappaqua resident Vanessa Williams headed back to Syracuse over the weekend to deliver the convocation address … and pick up her diplomma 25 years after dropping out of the university. Wearing a blue cap and gown with orange trim, Williams told a local reporter, “It’s been 25 years since I was a student here. It just brought home what my message was, which is cherish the moment.”

Her kids and family were also in the audience. According to Capital News 9, mom Helen had this to say: “It is fantastic. Its fulfillment, full circle and I’m very very excited and I know her dad is here in spirit.” As reported before, Syracuse awarded her the degree based on industry experience and performances on stage and screen.


Vanessa Williams to finally graduate college, earn an honest living

Yet another of our beloved LoHud celebs is pulling a Rodney Dangerfield. Remember how last summer Sneden’s Landing’s Bill Murray finally got his degree from Regis University, oh, about 30 years after he dropped out? Well, now Chappaqua’s Vanessa Williams has followed suit, returning to Syracuse this weekend nearly 25 years after she left the university to pursue singing, beauty pagenting, and looking dead sexy.

According to the AP story, Williams, who grew up in Millwood, was a musical theater major from 1981 to 1983 at ‘Cuse and  “earned the remaining credits for her degree through industry experience and her substantial performances on stage and screen.” She’ll also be delivering the school’s convocation speech.

We can only hope that she has as much fashion sense at the graduation ceremony as Murray did.

(Williams: AP Photo/Jim Cooper; Murray Photo: Regis University)

Vanessa Williams launches campaign for ‘Mother of the Year’

What does it take to be earn the label of “World’s Coolest Mom” these days? A hit primetime comedy? The noteriety of being one of the only Miss Americas stripped of her crown? tjndc5-5j1ehc7stomsiwlao5g_layout.jpgWell, those help. But having an in with Miley Cyrus trumps all.

That’s what Vanessa Williams is hoping. During Lincoln Center’s Annual Spring Gala Wednesday night, the Chappaqua actress told People Mag that she’s going to play Hannah Montana’s publicist in a version of the Disney Channel show. “My 7-year-old, [Sasha Gabrielle], is into [Miley’s] music,” she added. Even though the deal hasn’t been officially signed off on, Williams said her daughter has already given it her blessing. “[She] thought it was the coolest thing in the world, and that I’m an awesome mom!”

(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Podcast: April 2

On tap this week: the do-goodery of Palisades native Hayden Panettiere and Pound Ridge activist Richard Gere.

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Here’s this week’s quiz:

The rumor mill is churning again about who Chappaqua resident Vanessa Williams is reportedly dating. Which celeb has she been linked to this time?

A. Ludacris
B. Justin Timberlake
C. Tyler Perry
D. John Legend

Personally, I thought that was way hard — assuming, of course, you aren’t already caught up to date with your Suburbarazzi blog reading. Stacy-Ann, however, got it without even having to think about it. Her correct answer is at the end of the clip and, as always, after the break.

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Rumors we didn’t start: Vanessa Williams dating Tyler Perry

Don’t ask why we’re reading MediaTakeOut.com, but they have a story that Vanessa Williams is in the running to land “the most eligible bachelor in Black Hollywood.”


For those of you who aren’t up on your Black Hollywood bachelors, that would be actor/director/producer Tyler Perry. Their post says that “the two are spending the weekend together in Tyler’s Los Angeles mansion – waiting for the results of the new film Meet The Browns.” Which is a little odd, considering that Williams’s primary residence is still Chappaqua.

Of course, this website is the exact same one that posted a rumor about Williams dating Vince Vaughn, so take it with a huge, huge, Madea-sized grain of salt.

Suburbarazzi Week in Review on RNN: O’Donnell, Clinton, and Pacino pay a visit to upset city

On tap this week: Rosie’s return to television, how Hillary Clinton got her groove back (with a little help from SNL and Jon Stewart), and the latest on Al Pacino playing the bad guy in the next James Bond film.

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Also, you may have seen Vanessa Williams on the Barbara Walters Oscar special a week ago. During it, she confirmed a whole slew of rumors about her personal life. Which brings us to this week’s quiz: Can you guess which of the following she did NOT cop to?

A. Using Botox
B. Being the victim of racism while growing up in Millwood
C. Living with her 2 ex-husbands in Chappaqua simultaneously
D. Being an a Barack Obama booster

The answer is at the end of the video and after the break.
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Vanessa Williams on loving Botox, her own version of ‘Big Love,’ and racism in Millwood

Not only did this year’s Oscars prove to be far less interesting than the annual Barbara Walters special that preceded them, but Vanessa Williams somehow managed to outshine all of her fellow profilees. With all due respect to Miley Cyrus and Harrison Ford fans, Williams’ 20 minutes of airtime was way, way more revealing.

112201_086_pre.jpgAmong the things she told Barbara:

• “I certainly do Botox, which I definitely think that almost every woman that I know has [done]. And it’s a miracle drug, no cutting, nothing — and I love it. But I also want to act too … so I don’t do it to freeze my face.”

• Growing up in Millwood, she faced racism, including people calling her the n word and saying that her parents couldn’t afford their Westchester home.

• When pressed about whether she supports Barack Obama, she said his presidential campaign makes her “very proud.” But she hastened to add that she’s really excited about Hillary’s campaign, too. “I live in Chappaqua. She’s my neighbor. It’s a no-lose situation. And I am really, really excited that it’s happening at this point.”

• Most astonishing of all, she admitted to the rumors that at some point last summer she had both of her ex-husbands, Ramon Hervey and Rick Fox, living with her. In other words, should Wilhelmina Slater ever get killed off on “Ugly Betty,” it’s clear that she’d fit in just fine over on the set of “Big Love.”

Barbara Walters Oscars Special on ABC


Vanessa Williams cranking out awards, new albums

In case it wasn’t already clear from her role on “Ugly Betty,” Vanessa Williams is a friend to the gay community. At a Human Rights Campaign gala dinner on February 23, the group is going to award her with their Ally for Equality Award . The group is the nation’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality.

vanessa-williams.jpgAnother interesting tidbit about Williams that I saw in the press release: Apparently she’s planning to put out a new album, her eighth, in ’08. The Chappaqua resident signed with Concord Records last year, and although I wasn’t able to find many more details, she did confirm the planned album to Starpulse last October: “I was in Rio for Christmas working on a couple of songs and I’m going back into the studio in the next couple of months so hopefully I should have something ready by the time the next series of ‘Ugly Betty’ ends.”

So, uh, with the Writer’s Strike, does that mean she’s already had time to go back and wrap it up? We’ll stay on top of this and try to get a firm release date.

(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)