Leanza Cornett, the former Miss America and ex-wife of Mark Steines, has died. She was 49.
Cornett suffered a “serious head injury” on Oct. 12, according to her health & wellness group Leanza Cornett’s Circle of Love. That Facebook group has been giving regular updates on Cornett since she was hospitalized. No cause of death was given, but CBS reported that the Jacksonville native, a mother of two, fell earlier this month.
After suffering what Cornett’s group referred to as “an enormous blow to the back of her head,” she was admitted to the ICU and underwent surgery to “stop the bleeding in her brain,” but the bleeding and swelling continued.
In addition to her 1993 Miss America pageant win, Cornett appeared as both herself and in small acting roles on numerous TV shows. In 1996, for example, Cornett guested on “Saved by the Bell: The New Class” as “Carol.”
Cornett, who was also active in the televised dog-show community, had two sons with Steines. He’s a popular TV host, best-known for his years with “Entertainment Tonight” and Hallmark’s “Home & Family.”
“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. We will always remember the wonderful times shared during her short time here on earth,” Steines wrote on his Instagram. “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.”
The Miss America Organization posted the following on Facebook:
It is with great sadness the Miss America Organization relays the news our beloved Miss America and friend, Leanza Cornett, has passed away.
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.
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.
With much love,
The MAO Team
The Circle of Love group posted this on its own Facebook page:
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.￼￼