Former Miss America Leanza Cornett dies at 49: 'A bright and beautiful spirit'

In this November 1994 file image, Miss America Leanza Cornett poses for a photo.
Leanza Cornett, who became Miss America in 1993 before starting a television career, has died, the Miss America Organization confirmed. She was 49 years old.
"It is with great sadness that the Miss America Organization passes on the news that our beloved Miss America and friend Leanza Cornett has passed away," read a post on Miss America's official Facebook page.
"Leanza had a bright and beautiful mind 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 very sorry sorry for their family and close friends for their loss. "
Cornett was born in Virginia and raised in Florida. In 1992, he won the Miss Florida competition before winning the national title the following year.
According to posts from a Facebook group titled "Leanza Cornett's Love Circle," Cornett starred as the original Ariel on Disney World's "Voyage of The Little Mermaid" show in the early 1990s. She later appeared on episodes of the "Today" show, "Entertainment Tonight," "Rachael Ray," "CSI" and "Weeds," according to her IMDB page.
Cornett married actor and former Entertainment Tonight host Mark Steines in 1995 and divorced in 2013. They shared two sons: Kai (18) and Avery (16).
"We will always remember the wonderful times she spent during her short time here on earth," Steines wrote in an Instagram tribute Wednesday night. "I find comfort in knowing that Kai and Avery will forever have the best Guardian Angel to watch over them as they navigate the path of life."
The Miss America Organization stated that it currently has no "additional information on a service".
"Hold on to those you love today," the post added. "Time is certainly precious."
This article originally appeared in TODAY in the US: Former Miss America Leanza Cornett dies aged 49

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