Elizabeth Gracen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Elizabeth Gracen
Gracen in 2016
Elizabeth Grace Ward

(1961-04-03) April 3, 1961 (age 63)
Alma materHB Studios
TitleMiss Arkansas 1981
Miss America 1982
PredecessorSusan Powell
SuccessorDebra Maffett
Jon Birmingham
(m. 1982; div. 1984)
Brendan Hughes
(m. 1989; div. 1994)
  • Adam Murphy (present)

Elizabeth Ward Gracen (born Elizabeth Grace Ward, April 3, 1961) is an American actress and beauty pageant contestant who won the title of Miss America in 1982.

Early life and education[edit]

Elizabeth Grace Ward was born on April 3, 1961, in Ozark, Arkansas, the daughter of Patricia Hampe, a nurse, and Jimmy Young Ward, a poultry worker. She was raised in Booneville, Arkansas. The family later moved to Russellville, Arkansas, where Ward dated University of Arkansas trainer Mike Walker and graduated from Russellville High School in 1979.[1] She was a junior accounting major at Arkansas Tech University at the time she entered the Miss America contest.[2] Instead of returning to Arkansas Tech, she used her Miss America scholarship money to study acting at HB Studios in New York City.


Pageants and modeling[edit]

Gracen as Miss America 1982

Gracen won the titles of Miss Arkansas in 1981 and Miss America in 1982. After her yearlong work as Miss America, she enrolled in acting classes then relocated to California to pursue a film and television career.

Gracen posed nude for Playboy magazine's May 1992 issue.[3]


Gracen made her professional feature film debut in Three For The Road with Charlie Sheen. Her film credits also include a featured role in Marked for Death, opposite Steven Seagal, Pass The Ammo with Tim Curry, and the CBS feature 83 Hours Till Dawn with Peter Strauss and Robert Urich. Gracen starred in Lower Level and Discretion Assured with Michael York.

On television, Gracen has appeared in Shelley Duvall's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Sidney Sheldon's The Sands of Time, and The Death of the Incredible Hulk. She also appeared with a starring role in the series Extreme for NBC and the syndicated series Renegade and Queen of Swords.

Gracen's best-known acting role has been as the recurring character Amanda, a 1,200-year-old immortal, in the series Highlander: The Series and its spin-off series Highlander: The Raven.

Gracen, speaking about writing at TusCon 43 in Tucson, Arizona (2016)

In December 1999,[4] Gracen filed for bankruptcy protection.[4] After few television guest roles, and a supporting role in the made-for-television movie Interceptor Force 2, she took a long leave of absence from acting, beginning in 2002. Gracen began doing voiceover work for Blue Hours Productions, which has revived the classic radio anthology Suspense, which airs on Sirius XM. In 2012, Gracen did a character voice-over in the Malaysian animated science fiction film War of the Worlds: Goliath.

Directing, producing, and writing[edit]

In 2012, Gracen formed Flapper Films.[5] In 2014, she starred in Coherence, a sci-fi indie thriller.[6] In January 2016, Gracen established Flapper Press and self-published Shalilly, a young adult fantasy novel.[7]

Gracen made her directorial debut with a documentary short, "The Damn Deal," about three young drag queens from Arkansas who compete in female impersonator beauty pageants.

Personal life[edit]

Marriages and family[edit]

Gracen married Jon Birmingham in 1982, and they divorced in 1984.[citation needed]

In 1989, while filming Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat, she met actor Brendan Hughes, and they married soon after.[8] They divorced in 1994.

Gracen married Adam Murphy, and they have a daughter.[citation needed]

Affair with Bill Clinton[edit]

According to Gracen, some time in 1983, she had a one-night stand with future President Bill Clinton when he was Governor of Arkansas.[9][10] She was married at the time,[9] as was he.

In 1992, rumors swirled that Gracen had had an affair with Clinton.[11] At first, Gracen dismissed this claim (as requested by Clinton's campaign manager Mickey Kantor);[9] however, in spring 1998 Gracen recanted her six-year-old denial and stated she had a one-night stand with Clinton in 1983.[4] Gracen stated that "What I did was wrong, and I feel very, very bad about it now. My behavior was inappropriate -- that's just the bottom line" and publicly apologized to Hillary Clinton.[12]

After her claim, Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, who was investigating Clinton in the Paula Jones lawsuit, issued a subpoena to have her testify to her claim in court.[13] However, Gracen eluded the subpoena[13] and was at one point able to avoid it because Highlander: The Raven was being filmed outside of the US.[4] Paula Jones's legal team was also unable to track down Gracen because she had made unscheduled trips to Las Vegas and the Caribbean.[13]



  1. ^ "Elizabeth Ward Gracen (1961–)". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Archived from the original on March 14, 2012. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
  2. ^ Thomas DeBlack. "A Century Forward: The Centennial History of Arkansas Tech University." Walsworth Publishing Company. 2016.
  3. ^ "[Unknown]". Playboy. May 1992.
  4. ^ a b c d "All the President's Women – Elizabeth Ward Gracen". Comedy on Tap. Archived from the original on February 13, 2009.
  5. ^ Palma, Claudia (August 13, 2015). "Lineage Performing Arts Center to screen documentary highlighting dancing with Parkinson's classes". The Pasadena Star-News. Retrieved March 21, 2016.
  6. ^ Barnard, Linda (September 18, 2016). "Coherence: Comet shakes things up in thriller: review". thestar.com. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
  7. ^ Keegan, Simon (April 13, 2016). "Highlander star and Miss America Elizabeth Gracen launches new career as children's book author". mirror.co.uk. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
  8. ^ "Brendan Hughes". IMDb. Retrieved March 13, 2021.
  9. ^ a b c "Beauty queen apologises for tryst". Gainesville Sun. Associated Press. April 26, 1998. Retrieved March 15, 2017.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Kennedy, Helen (February 8, 2000). "She hitched her star to a wagon for the love of Bill, Hillary put her goals on hold and move to Ark. stick". New York Daily News.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ "Elizabeth Gracen: the Clinton reign of terror". January 14, 1999. Archived from the original on February 4, 2009.
  12. ^ "Former Miss America Apologizes To First Lady - April 25, 1998". CNN. Archived from the original on December 15, 2006. Retrieved November 9, 2008.
  13. ^ a b c "Big Year for the Bad News Bearers". The Washington Post. December 24, 1998.

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by Miss America
Succeeded by
Preceded by Miss Arkansas
Succeeded by
Micki Petrus
Preceded by
Bobbie Candler
National Sweetheart
Succeeded by
Gloria Gilbert