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Former Miss America Leanza Cornett dies at 49
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Former Miss America Leanza Cornett dies at 49

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Leanza Cornett and John Schneider

Leanza Cornett, Miss America 1993, is shown with John Schneider of "Dukes of Hazzard" fame in this 1997 file photo.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected. Associated Press photos that originally accompanied this story incorrectly identified a woman in the photos as Leanza Cornett.

Leanza Cornett, who was named Miss America 1993, died Wednesday afternoon after being hospitalized with a head injury.

She was 49.

Cornett, born in Virginia but raised in Florida, was named Miss Florida in 1992 before winning the national pageant a year later.

“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,” the Miss America Organization said in a statement.

“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.”

Cornett suffered a head injury from “a massive blow to the back of the head” when she fell in her kitchen on Oct. 12 and had required emergency surgery, according to a Facebook page set up to update fans, friends and family.

She had remained hospitalized in Jacksonville, Fla., until her death Wednesday.

Cornett was the first actress to play a live-action Ariel in the “Voyage of The Little Mermaid” stage show at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios. She also had on-screen roles including “Saved by the Bell: The New Class,” “Grown Ups,” “The Tick,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “Weeds.”

She is survived by two sons, Kai, 18, and Avery, 16, and her ex-husband, former “Entertainment Tonight” host Mark Steines.

“We will always remember the wonderful times shared during her short time here on earth,” Steines wrote on Instagram. “I find comfort knowing Kai and Avery will forever have the best guardian angel watching over them as they navigate life’s path.”

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