Suzette Charles performing in 1985
March 2, 1963
Mays Landing, New Jersey, United States
|Ethnicity||Italian American and West Indian|
|Occupation||Singer and actress|
|Home town||Mays Landing, New Jersey|
|Title||Miss New Jersey 1983
Miss America 1984 B (after Vanessa Williams resigned)
First runner-up in the Miss America 1984 pageant
|Predecessor||Vanessa L. Williams|
|Board member of||Endowment of the Arts|
|Parent(s)||Charles DeGaetano (father)
Suzette Burroughs DeGaetano (mother)
Charles was born and raised in Mays Landing, New Jersey; she is the only child of an interracial family. Her father, Charles DeGaetano, is of Italian descent, while her mother, Suzette DeGaetano (a former a professional singer and music teacher) is of West Indian descent. She graduated from the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts in 1981 (where she was a Presidential Scholar in her senior year). She won a full scholarship to Temple University where she was a performing arts major.
Miss America 1984
In July 1984 the reigning Miss America, Vanessa L. Williams, was forced to resign seven weeks prior to the end of her time as Miss America (after the publication of nude photos of her in Penthouse). Suzette Charles thus replaced her, serving as Miss America 1984 for the remaining seven weeks. Williams was allowed to keep the bejeweled crown and scholarship money and is officially recognized by the Miss America Organization as "Miss America 1984"; Charles is recognized as "Miss America 1984 B".
Thirty-two years later, on September 13, 2015, Williams returned to the Miss America stage when she served as head judge for Miss America 2016. The pageant began with issuing an apology to Williams for her forced resignation in 1984. Charles commented on the apology the day after the event, stating in an interview with Inside Edition that she was perplexed over it and suggested that it was given for the purpose of ratings.
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 ABC soap opera Loving, CBS television series Frank's Place and performed on This Morning, a British talk show. She hosted a show on Bravo called Arts-Break. She narrated the motion picture, Beyond The Dream, and has appeared on stage singing with Stevie Wonder, Alan King, Joel Grey, Sammy Davis Jr., Bill Cosby and Frank Sinatra.
In 1993, Charles was signed to RCA Records and recorded with top British producers Mike Stock and Pete Waterman, releasing her debut single, "Free To Love Again", in August of that year. The single peaked at #58 on the UK Singles Chart. Other 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". Her producers have included Waterman and David Foster who also signed her on his 143 Label. In the late 1980s, Barry Manilow and his management company Stiletto Management represented her on Capitol Records as well.
- "ITALIAN AMERICAN WOMEN TRAIL BLAZERS". The National Italian American Foundation. Retrieved 2007-05-27.
- "Suzette Charles was Groomed Since Childhood to Be Miss America." Gettysburg Times, July 24, 1984:3.
- "The Short Reigh Of Suzette Charles Suzette Charles Was Miss America For Only A Few Months But She`s Taking That Brief Reign And Turning It Into A Successful Career"
- "Former Miss New Jerseys". "Miss New Jersey". Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- "American Experience | Miss America | People & Events". Pbs.org. Retrieved September 22, 2013.
- "Miss America 1984". Miss America Organization. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
- "Miss America 1984 B". Miss America Organization. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
- Leeds, Serene (2015-09-14). "Vanessa Williams Receives On-Air Apology From the Miss America Organization". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- ABC News. "Vanessa Williams on Returning to Miss America After Scandal". ABC News. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
- Fitz-Gerald, Sean (2015-09-14). "Vanessa Williams Finally Got Her Miss America Apology". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2015-09-17.
- Rogers, Katie (2015-09-14). "Vanessa Williams Returns to Miss America and Receives an Apology". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- Robinson, Joanna (2015-09-14). "Watch Vanessa Williams Finally Receive an Apology at the Miss America 2016 Pageant". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2015-09-13.
- Inside Edition (2015-09-14). "Beauty Queen Who Won Vanessa Williams' Crown: Miss America Apology Was About Ratings". Inside Edition. Retrieved 2015-09-18.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 101. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Chira, Susan.
- "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|
Vanessa L. Williams
|Miss New Jersey
Patricia La Terra