Former Miss America Leanza Cornett Dies at 49: She 'Had a Bright and Beautiful Spirit'
Leanza Cornett, who was crowned Miss America in 1993, has died at the age of 49.
Her death was confirmed by the Miss America Organization on Wednesday in a statement reading, "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," the statement read. "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," the organization added.
A cause of death was not given, though News 4 Jax — an NBC News affiliate based out of the pageant queen's hometown of Jacksonville, Florida — reported that Cornett died after she was hospitalized for a head injury.
A Facebook group called Leanza's Circle of Love, which was created to keep fans updated on her condition, said in an Oct. 16 post that Cornett "sustained a serious head injury that required emergency surgery" a few days prior and was admitted into the intensive care unit.
Before she was crowned Miss Florida in 1992, Cornett starred as Ariel in the "Voyage of The Little Mermaid" stage show Disney's Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World.
After winning the title of Miss America, Cornett appeared in several television series, including Saved by the Bell: The New Class, Grown Ups, The Tick, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Weeds.
She married former Home and Family host Mark Steines in 1995.
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Steines, who split with Cornett in 2013 after 17 years of marriage, confirmed the news of her death in an Instagram post on Wednesday.
"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," he wrote alongside a photo of Cornett with their children. "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," Steines added.