JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Leanza Cornett, a woman who was raised in Jacksonville and crowned Miss America in 1993, has died after being hospitalized for a head injury. She was 49.
The news first broke on Leanza Cornett’s Circle of Love, which is a social media page that was monitoring her condition after the injury. That post read:
Dear Disney family
I'm here to let you know Leanza passed this afternoon. She was so loved. I don't feel like writing a lot right now; my heart is broken.
Shortly thereafter, the Miss America Organization posted:
According to Leanza Cornett’s Circle of Love, the former Miss America sustained a head injury on Oct. 12. Periodically, the Facebook page would share updates on her condition. A post on Saturday afternoon quoted Cornett’s mother, Patti, as having recently said “no news is good news.”
Details surrounding the injury were not immediately clear.
Cornett was also crowned Miss Florida in 1992. After being crowned Miss America, she’s recognized as the first beauty queen to adopt AIDS awareness and prevention as her platform.
The 49-year-old was the 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.
Cornett was born in 1971 in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, but she was raised in Jacksonville and graduated Terry Parker High School in 1989. She was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2006. Cornett also attended Jacksonville University.
In 1995, she married her husband Mark Steines on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. They later divorced in 2013.
Cornett leaves behind two children -- Avery Steines, 16, and Kai Steines, 18.