1993 Miss America Leanza Cornett Dies From a Brain Injury at 49
Former Miss America 1993 Leanza Cornett died Wednesday at 49, after suffering a brain injury in a fall earlier this month.
Action News Jacksonville reported that a family spokesman said Cornett suffered the injury on Oct. 12 and underwent surgery the next morning. She had "required a decompressive craniectomy, performed to relieve pressure, treat brain swelling and manage bleeding.”
Details surrounding the injury were not immediately clear.
Cornett, who grew up in Jacksonville, Fl., was first actress to play a live-action “Ariel” in the “Little Mermaid” stage show at Walt Disney World Resort in 1991.
Throughout her career, she served as a host for several television shows including Entertainment Tonight, as listed on her IMDB profile. She also made appearances in television shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Weeds and Saved by the Bell: The New Class.
In 1995, she married her husband Mark Steines, a one time co-host of Entertainment Tonight, on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. They later divorced in 2013.
Leanza Cornett was the first Miss America to choose an AIDS awareness platform, something she later remembered doing fondly.
I’m very, very proud to have been able to speak out on behalf of people living with AIDS and gay men who probably suffered the most, especially during those early years. I think I confused the lesbians, because they typically hated Miss America, but loved anyone who stood up for AIDS. I was a conundrum!
South Jersey remembers Leanza fondly, too, including her 2018 return visit for what became the final Miss America competition in Atlantic City.