On this date in history July 23 Miss America resigns

On this day in 1984, 21-year-old Vanessa Williams gives up her Miss America title, the first resignation in the pageant’s history, after Penthousemagazine announces plans to publish nude photos of the beauty queen in its September issue. Williams originally made history on September 17, 1983, when she became the first black woman to win the Miss America crown. Miss New Jersey, Suzette Charles, the first runner-up and also an African American, assumed Williams’ tiara for the two months that remained of her reign.

Vanessa Lynn Williams was born March 18, 1963, in Millwood, New York, to music teacher parents. She attended Syracuse University and studied musical theater. In 1982, while working a summer job as a receptionist at a modeling agency in Mt. Kisco, New York, photographer Thomas Chiapel took the nude pictures of Williams, telling her they’d be shot in silhouette and that she wouldn’t be recognizable. After Williams became Miss America, the photographer sold the pictures to Penthouse without her knowledge. Williams later dropped lawsuits against the magazine and photographer after it was learned that she had signed a model release form at the time the photos were taken.

The Miss America pageant, which prides itself on projecting a wholesome, positive image of women, began in 1921 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, as a stunt developed by local businessmen to extend the summer tourist season. In 1945, the Miss America Organization handed out its first scholarship. Today, it provides over $45 million each year in cash and tuition assistance to contestants on the national, state and local levels. In 1954, the competition was broadcast live for the first time. Beginning in the 1980s, contestants were required to have a social platform, such as drunk-driving preventionor AIDS awareness, and Miss America winners now travel an estimated 20,000 miles a month for speaking engagements and public appearances. In 2006, following a decline in TV ratings, the pageant moved from Atlantic City for the first time in its history and took place in Las Vegas, where a new Miss America was crowned in January instead of September.

Vanessa Williams rebounded from the Miss America scandal and went on to a successful entertainment career as an actress and recording artist, performing on Broadway as well as in movies and television and releasing a number of popular albums.

Via The History Channel

On this day in history July 22 Gorbachev accepts ban on intermediate-range nuclear missiles

In a dramatic turnaround, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev indicates that he is willing to negotiate a ban on intermediate-range nuclear missiles without conditions. Gorbachev’s decision paved the way for the groundbreaking Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with the United States.

Since coming to power in 1985, Gorbachev had made it clear that he sought a less contentious relationship with the United States. His American counterpart, President Ronald Reagan, was a staunch anticommunist and initially harbored deep suspicions about Gorbachev’s sincerity. After meeting with Gorbachev in November 1985, however, Reagan came to believe that progress might be made on a number of issues, including arms control. In subsequent summit meetings, the two leaders focused on the so-called intermediate-range nuclear missiles that both nations had massed in Europe and around the world. In late 1986, it appeared that the two nations were close to an agreement that would eliminate the weapons from Europe. Negotiations stumbled, however, when Gorbachev demanded that the elimination of the missiles be accompanied by U.S. abandonment of its development of the strategic defense initiative (the “Star Wars” plan). The talks broke down while Reagan and Gorbachev traded accusations of bad faith. On July 22, 1987, Gorbachev dramatically announced that he was ready to discuss the elimination of intermediate-range missiles on a worldwide basis, with no conditions. By dropping his objection to the strategic defense initiative (which was one of Reagan’s pet projects), Gorbachev cleared the way for negotiations, and he and Reagan agreed to meet again.

Gorbachev’s change of mind was the result of a number of factors. His own nation was suffering from serious economic problems and Gorbachev desperately wanted to cut Russia’s military spending. In addition, the growing “no-nukes” movement in Europe was interfering with his ability to conduct diplomatic relations with France, Great Britain, and other western European nations. Finally, Gorbachev seemed to have a sincere personal trust in and friendship with Ronald Reagan, and this feeling was apparently reciprocal. In December 1987, during a summit in Washington, the two men signed off on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons.

Via The History Channel