Suzette Charles

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Suzette Charles
Suzette Charles aboard USS Coral Sea (CV-43) 1985.jpg
Born Suzette DeGaetano
(1963-03-02) March 2, 1963 (age 51)
Mays Landing, New Jersey
Ethnicity Italian American and African American
Occupation Singer and Actress
Title Miss New Jersey 1983
Miss America 1984
Predecessor Vanessa L. Williams
Successor Sharlene Wells

Suzette Charles (born Suzette DeGaetano, March 2, 1963, Mays Landing, New Jersey) is an American singer, entertainer and former Miss America.


Born in the Mays Landing section of Hamilton Township, Atlantic County, New Jersey, she represented New Jersey in the 1983 Miss America pageant held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She won her preliminary talent night and finished first runner-up to Vanessa Lynn Williams, who became the first African-American to wear the crown and title of Miss America. When Williams was forced to relinquish the title amid a scandal triggered by Williams' posing for nude photographs published in Penthouse magazine, Charles was crowned in Williams' place and served the remaining seven weeks of Williams' reign, the shortest served by any Miss America.

Charles, who already had many credits in advertising and educational television, has gone on to a career as a singer, entertainer, and television personality. She has acted on the CBS television series Frank's Place and performed on This Morning, a British talk show. She narrated the motion picture, Beyond The Dream, and has appeared on stage with Stevie Wonder, Alan King, Joel Grey and Lou Rawls.

Charles also pursued a singing career. She toured with Stevie Wonder and Lou Rawls in the late 1980s. In 1993, she worked with top British producers Mike Stock and Pete Waterman, releasing her debut solo single, "Free To Love Again", in August of that year. The single peaked at #58 in the UK Singles Chart,[1] and her album was eventually shelved. Other unreleased songs she recorded with Stock and Waterman included "After You're Gone", "Don't Stop (All The Love You Can Give)", "Every Time We Touch", "What The Eye Don't See" and "Just For A Minute". She has also toured with The Suzette Charles Band. Her producers have included Waterman and Michael Raye.

Her father, Charles DeGaetano, is of Italian descent,[2] and her mother, Suzette (Burroughs) DeGaetano, is African-American, and was the elementary school music teacher in the Buena Regional School District, Buena, New Jersey.

Charles has been a resident of Mays Landing, New Jersey.[3]



  1. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 101. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  2. ^ "ITALIAN AMERICAN WOMEN TRAIL BLAZERS". The National Italian American Foundation. Retrieved 2007-05-27. 
  3. ^ Chira, Susan. She has also lived in Brookville, Long Island
    "TO FIRST BLACK MISS AMERICA, VICTORY IS A MEANS TO AN END", The New York Times, September 19, 1983. Accessed December 4, 2007. "Her home is in Mays Landing, 15 miles west of Atlantic City, the site of the contest."
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Vanessa L. Williams
Miss America
Succeeded by
Sharlene Wells
Preceded by
Christina Shone
Miss New Jersey
Succeeded by
Patricia La Terra