In 1984, Vanessa Williams made history when she became the first African American to be crowned Miss America. But then came the nude photos (taken before the pageant), which were published in Penthouse. She eventually abdicated as Miss America.
That’s the scandal America knows, but there’s a lot more in the “Desperate Housewives” star’s life and – with her mom sitting right beside her – she opened up on Friday’s Access Hollywood Live.
“Actually, I read the book from cover to cover about a month ago the first time,” Helen Williams, Vanessa’s mom told Billy Bush and Kit Hoover, referring to Vanessa’s new memoir, “You Have No Idea: A Famous Daughter, Her No-nonsense Mother, and How They Survived Pageants, Hollywood, Love, Loss (and Each Other).”
“And you learned of a certain surprise in there-- something you did not know?” Billy asked.
“I didn’t know about the molestation that happened,” Helen said. “That’s in the book… I didn’t know about that. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t know about it at the time it happened.”
“She would have kicked some a**,” Vanessa added.
Vanessa wrote in her new book, that she was just 10-years-old, when she was molested by a teenager.
“You took a trip out to Orange County…” Billy said.
“With a family friend, and we stayed with their family friends. So we really didn’t know the other family,” Vanessa said.
“And an 18-year-old girl, while you were sleeping with your friend in her room, came and woke you up in the middle of the night and started to touch you, right?” Billy asked.
“Right,” Vanessa said.
“So many people have gone through that,” Billy said, thinking of the celebrities over the years who have revealed they were molested as children.
“I know, which is incredible,” she said. “Has everyone been molested? It’s ridiculous. Every time I hear a story like that, it just makes me crazy.”
Vanessa revealed she blocked out the memory until later on.
“It hit me when I was in college. I had a boyfriend and we were hanging out and [I said,] ‘I think I was molested,’” she recalled. “It didn’t scare me to the point where I couldn’t function, but I knew that, ‘Wow! That was not cool.’”
The former Miss America also revealed in her book that she had an abortion.
In the book, Vanessa said as a young person, she wasn’t squeaky clean, but a rebellious youngster, “who had experienced life, who had smoked pot, who had done a lot of things, who had a boyfriend, who had premarital sex. You know, I was one of those,” she said.
Vanessa admitted in her book to a forbidden teenage love affair with her childhood boyfriend, Bruce, who was the father of the aborted fetus. Their relationship was a constant thorn in the backside of her parents, especially the day Vanessa was busted home alone with Bruce when she was supposed to be at school.
“I went down and realized that two people were there in the house on the sofa,” Helen said. “So I turned off the music. Then it was like, ‘Oh, no. Mom’s here!’”
And as for Vanessa’s pot smoking days?
“By the way, I still have her little pipe,” Helen chimed in. “That, I found in her room.”
Why did mom save it?
“In case I need to pull it out to the kids some day and say, ‘This is what you shouldn’t do!’” Helen laughed.