Leanza Cornett dead at 49 – Former Miss America dies after ‘head injury and emergency surgery’ as fans pay tribute

FORMER Miss America Leanza Cornett has died aged 49.

The mum-of-two, who was crowned the winner of the famous competition in 1993, died after she "sustained a serious head injury".

Leanza, from Jacksonsville, Florida, required emergency surgery and was rushed to hospital on October 12.

Last night, The Miss America Organisation confirmed she had passed away and paid tribute to Leanza, describing her as having a "beautiful spirit".

A spokesman said: "It is with great sadness the Miss America Organization relays the news our beloved Miss America and friend, Leanza Cornett, has passed away.


"Leanza had a bright and beautiful spirit and her laugh was infectious. We know she meant so much to so many, including all of you.

"We are devastated by this sudden loss in our Miss America family and we are deeply sorry for her family and close friends for their loss.

"At the moment, we do not have any further information regarding a service for Leanza and we ask that you please respect her family during this difficult time.

"Hold on tight to those you love today. Time is certainly precious. With much love, The MAO Team."

Leanza had a bright and beautiful spirit and her laugh was infectious. We know she meant so much to so many, including all of you."

Her ex-husband, American broadcast journalist Mark Steines, also paid tribute, adding how the family "will always remember the wonderful times".

He wrote on Instagram: "It is with a heavy heart that I share with you the passing of my ex-wife, Leanza the mother to our two extraordinary sons Kai and Avery.

"We will always remember the wonderful times shared during her short time here on earth.

"I find comfort knowing Kai and Avery will forever have the best guardian angel watching over them as they navigate life's path.


"I ask that you please keep them as well as Leanza's parents and her family in your prayers."

Leanza was crowned Miss Florida in 1992 and went on to win Miss America the following year.

After winning the competition, she became one of the first titleholders to refuse to wear the crown during public appearances.

Leanza, who was previously National Sweetheart in 1991, went on to star as Ariel in The Voyage of the Little Mermaid stage show.

She also appeared in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Saved by the Bell: The New Class, Grown UPs and Weeds.

Leanza married former Home and Family host Mark in 1995 and the couple had two children, Kai 18, and 16-year-old Avery. They split in 2013.

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