One lucky lady will be crowned Miss USA as the famed pageant franchise celebrates its 60th anniversary on Sunday in Las Vegas, and while the beauty who earns runner-up credit may feel a crushing blow of disappointment, history has proven that she who loses the crown may still end up winning – just ask Halle Berry!
Twenty-five years ago, Halle Berry — just 19-years-old at the time — was crowned Miss Ohio USA, 1986.
A stunning beauty even then, Halle parlayed her state victory into a near-national victory as she continued on to compete for the title of Miss USA 1986 — earning a spot among the top five contestants for the coveted crown.
Her approach to winning over the judges? A message of positivity and equality.
“I would like to symbolize a very positive role model, not only for women, but for people of the United States,” a starry-eyed Halle told the audience at the time, when asked by the show’s beloved host, Bob Barker, what she “would hope to symbolize to the American people” if crowned. “And through me, I hope that they could learn that no matter what race, color, religion or sex you are, you can be whatever it is you want to become.”
However, it wasn’t meant to be, as Halle was named runner-up at the fateful competition, narrowly losing the crown to Christy Fichtner of Texas.
Despite the loss, Halle went on to become the first African-American Miss World entrant later that year, where she finished in sixth place.
After gaining exposure through the pageant world, Halle pursued a modeling career and enjoyed minor acting roles before landing her first network part on ABC’s ill-fated “Who’s the Boss?” spin-off, “Living Dolls,” in 1989.
Halle soon earned a recurring role on “Knot’s Landing,” before making the leap to the big screen as a drug addict in Spike Lee’s “Jungle Fever” in 1991.
The following year, Halle proved herself a worthy actress once again, this time holding her own alongside superstar Eddie Murphy in 1992’s “Boomerang.” She gained even more notoriety — as well as a host of youthful fans — with her role as the seductive Miss Stone in “The Flintstones” (1994).
The gorgeous actress continued to star in big screen features, including “Executive Decision” with Kurt Russell and Warren Beatty’s “Bulworth,” but also appeared in several memorable made-for-TV movies including “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,” a biopic that chronicled the life of the first African-American female to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.
In a touching twist of fate, Halle herself became the first African-American female to win the Academy Award for Best Actress for her haunting portrayal of a struggling widow in 2001’s “Monster’s Ball.”
Halle continued in her upward trajectory, portraying sexy mutant Storm in the “X-Men” blockbuster franchise, and steaming up the screen as Bond girl Jinx Johnson alongside Pierce Brosnan in the 2002 James Bond movie, “Die Another Day.”
In 2005, Halle took a minor career hit after her superhero film, “Catwoman,” debuted to disappointing numbers and dismal reviews. She was consequently awarded the Worst Actress Razzie award for the role, but took the criticism in stride — and surprised fans with her self-deprecating sense of humor — by showing up to accept the award in person.
In addition to her enviable film career, Halle, now 44, is a mother – she gave birth to daughter Nahla Ariela Aubry in March 2008 – and boasts a lucrative long-standing relationship with Revlon, serving as a brand ambassador for the cosmetics giant.
As for Christy Fichtner?
Miss USA 1986, the Texan beauty queen, stayed out of the public eye until 2003, when she starred in NBC’s reality competition, “Who Wants to Marry My Dad?” where ironically, she came in second – the runner-up.