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Former Miss America winner Leanza Cornett dies at 49

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Donald Kravitz/Getty Images for Dick Clark Productions(LOS ANGELES) — Leanza Cornett, who was crowned Miss America in 1993, died unexpectedly on Wednesday.  She was 49.

The Miss America Organization confirmed the beauty queen’s passing, writing, “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.”

The industry has been “devastated by this sudden loss” and “are deeply sorry for her family and close friends for their loss.”

The organization declined to reveal her cause of death, writing, “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.”

Family and friends of Cornett revealed she suffered a head injury and creating a special Facebook group called Leanza Cornett’s Circle of Love to update fans on her recovery. 

The group revealed on October 18 that she “sustained an enormous blow to the back of her head” that resulted in “bleeding in her brain.”  No further details were provided.

“The updates here are provided by, and or approved by Leanza’s Mom, Patti, who is with Leanza,” the group attested.

The last update to fans was posted Wednesday regarding Cornett’s tragic passing.

Cornett’s ex-husband Mark Steines, who shared sons Kai, 18, and Avery, 16, with her, took to Instagram to honor his late wife, vowing, “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.”

Cornett went on to play the first live-action Ariel in The Little Mermaid stage production at Walt Disney World and had cameos in shows like Weeds and Saved by the Bell: The New Class.

By Megan Stone
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