Lianza Cornet, crowned Miss America in 1993, has died. She was 49 years old. A family spokesman told CBS News-affiliated WJX-TV that Cornet died Wednesday. No cause of death was given, but the station reported that a Jacksonville native, mother of two, suffered a brain injury after the fall earlier this month.
Cornett’s death has been confirmed in a statement by the Miss America organization.
“Lianza had a bright and beautiful spirit and her laughter was contagious. We know she means a lot to a lot of people, including you,” the statement said. “We are devastated by this sudden loss to our Miss America family and we are deeply sorry for her loss to her family and close friends.”
Cornet, who was crowned Miss Florida in 1992, sang in the Christian music group “Area Code” in the early ’90s, WJAX reports. She also starred as Ariel in Walt Disney World’s MGM Studios “Voyage the Little Mermaid Show” and had a career as a network TV broadcaster.
At the time of its fall on October 12, a family spokesman told WJX that the injury required “dissecting craniotomy” to “treat brain inflammation and manage bleeding.”
Friend Elizabeth Tobin Kurtz told WJX that Cornet used her platform in the 90s to become an AIDS awareness champion. Kurtz said Cornet was often seen wearing a red ribbon, a common symbol of AIDS support.
“If you look at some of her yellow pageant dresses, you’ll see she’s wearing a red ribbon for awareness.” “Lianza worked tirelessly to bring awareness, reduce stigma and make love happy.”