Officials of the Miss America Pageant voted unanimously today to ask the reigning queen, Vanessa Williams, to resign, after they learned that she had posed for nude pictures before her selection for the title. The pictures will be published in the September issue of Penthouse magazine. Albert A. Marks Jr. For her to ''remain as Miss America would seriously jeopardize and irrevocably damage the entire Miss America Pageant program,'' he said.
He said she would have 72 hours to decide whether to resign. Her lawyer told pageant officials that Miss Williams would announce her decision at a news conference on Monday, Mr. Marks said. It is the first time in the pageant's year history that a Miss America winner has been asked to yield her crown, Mr.
He said the eight-member committee had made its decision after looking at a set of the pictures, which show Miss Williams in scenes depicting sexual relations with another woman. He said that he learned of the planned page layout in a long-distance call from the year- old Miss Williams on Sunday and that he met with her here Monday to get additional details.
He described Miss Williams at their meeting on Monday as being sorry and ''tearful to the point of hysterics. He quoted her as explaining, ''Well, it was three years ago and young people do foolish things and I greatly regret it. She climbed down a set of stairs that had been pulled up to the plane and left the airport in a limousine before she could be interviewed. Her mother, Helen Williams, said in a telephone interview, ''We're very proud of her and the person she's become.
Williams Jr. Her mother, asked to comment about her daughter's posing nude, said: ''I don't hold any moral judgments. She was just 18 or 19, and all people are liable to make errors.
We're all human. According to Mrs. Williams, the photographs were taken in , when her daughter was working as a receptionist for Tom Chaipel, a photographer in Mount Kisco, N. Chaipel sold the pictures to Penthouse. From the moment she was crowned last Sept. She became a symbol overnight - a role, she said in an interview last April, that she would prefer to play down. Leonard C. Horn, general counsel and chief operating officer of the pageant, said in answer to a question that nothing in a Miss America's contract with the pageant ''specifically'' prohibited her to pose nude.
But the contract, which makes the pageant the sole agent of a Miss America for the one-year period of her reign, says in general terms, according to Mr. Horn, that she guarantees ''good moral character,'' pledges to do nothing that can be construed as an act of ''moral turpitude,'' and agrees to ''do nothing during her reign that would not uphold the dignity of the crown and the Miss America image.
Horn said he had expressed the terms in his own words, not those of the contract. He declined to produce a copy of the contract. Marks said, ''we will consider what action to take next. He said in response to a question that she had not offered to relinquish the crown when he met with her.
Marks said that, although Miss Williams posed for the pictures before she won the title, she was obligated to tell pageant officials as an entrant about anything that might have disqualified her. Pageant Considers New Rule. Horn said a new regulation might be written by the pageant's executive committee to bar from competition anyone who had posed nude for publication and to require the resignation of any titleholder who did so after winning.
Marks said Suzette Charles of New Jersey, the first runner-up in the pageant last September, would be asked if she was available to take the title for the rest of Miss Williams's term, which ends with the crowning of Miss America here on Sept. Although no Miss America has ever been asked to step down, there have been other controversies. Miss America for , Tawny Goldin, spoke out on subjects ranging from abortion to marijuana.
And the titleholder, Debra Sue Maffett, caused a stir when it was learned that she had altered the shape of her nose. The pageant was created in the 's as a promotion to extend the commercial summer season of this resort.
A Grueling Schedule. In return, the sponsors are guaranteed at least half of Miss America's appearances. Marks said all had been notified of the Penthouse plans ''and they are still sponsors, but I can't predict the future. American Greetings announced today that it was canceling advertisements featuring Miss Williams in five magazines.
The pageant as well as Miss America's appearances attracted more attention this year than usual because Miss Williams was the first black titleholder.
Miss Charles, the runner-up, is also black. Plans for Theatrical Career. Miss Williams said in earlier interviews that she intended to pursue a theatrical career in New York City and continue her college education part time. Benjamin L. Hooks, executive director of the N. Speaking in an interview last spring about the demands that the pageant makes on a contestant and a winner, Miss Williams said:.
It's the person who is the most well-balanced mentally, the one who has the guts and the endurance to make it through the year. Although the woman who reigns as Miss America is part of a commercial venture, her role is often superceded for many people by the image of wholesomeness that the pageant has sought to stress.
A number of regulations about conduct have been imposed by the pageant. Miss America is not permitted to date during the year of her reign and two chaperones are required to accompany her. Marks stressed the wholesomeness theme when he met the press today. The pageant's executive director also assailed Robert Guccione, Penthouse's publisher, for deciding to publish the photographs.
Guccione, asked Thursday whether he was concerned about the effect publication of the photos would have on Miss Williams's career, said: ''My first obligation is to my readers. Anyone who seeks the limelight must realize that they are newsworthy. Richard Nelson, a Playboy spokesman, said, ''We were not interested in the possibility of harming her career.
Meanwhile, Mr. Marks said, he has canceled appearances scheduled for Miss Williams in Saginaw, Mich. He said other appearances had been canceled by sponsors. View on timesmachine. TimesMachine is an exclusive benefit for home delivery and digital subscribers.
To preserve these articles as they originally appeared, The Times does not alter, edit or update them. Occasionally the digitization process introduces transcription errors or other problems; we are continuing to work to improve these archived versions. Pageant Considers New Rule Mr. Plans for Theatrical Career Miss Williams said in earlier interviews that she intended to pursue a theatrical career in New York City and continue her college education part time.