Elizabeth Gracen

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Elizabeth Gracen
File:Elizabeth Gracen 20100704 Japan Expo 1.jpg
Elizabeth Gracen at Japan Expo 2010
Born Elizabeth Grace Ward
(1961-04-03) April 3, 1961 (age 57)
Ozark, Arkansas
Alma mater HB Studios
Occupation Actress
Title Miss Arkansas 1981
Miss America 1982
Predecessor Susan Powell
Successor Debra Maffett
Spouse(s) Jon Birmingham (1982–1984) (divorced)
Brendan Hughes (1989–1994) (divorced)
Adam Murphy (present)

Elizabeth Ward Gracen (born Elizabeth Grace Ward) is an American actress who won the title of Miss America in 1982.

Early life, beauty and acting careers

She was born on April 3, 1961,[1] in Ozark, Arkansas, and raised in Booneville, Arkansas, the daughter of Jimmy Young Ward and Patricia "Pat" (Murphy) Ward. She later moved to Russellville, Arkansas with her family, where she graduated from Russellville High School in 1979. She won the titles of Miss Arkansas in 1981 and Miss America in 1982. She used her Miss America scholarship money to study acting at HB Studios in New York City before moving to Hollywood to pursue a film and television career. During this time, Gracen says she had a one-night stand with future President Bill Clinton.[2][3] She posed nude for Playboy magazine's May 1992 issue.

She built an acting career, and in 1989, while filming Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat, she met actor Brendan Hughes and they married soon after. The couple divorced in 1994. Before that she was married to Jon Birmingham. She has since remarried and has a daughter.

She made her professional feature film debut in Three For The Road with Charlie Sheen. Her film credits also include a featured role in Marked For Death opposite Steven Seagal, Pass The Ammo with Tim Curry, and the CBS feature 83 Hours Till Dawn with Peter Strauss and Robert Urich. Gracen starred in Lower Level and Discretion Assured with Michael York.

On television, Gracen has appeared in Shelley Duvall's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Sidney Sheldon's The Sands of Time and Death of the Incredible Hulk. She also appeared with a starring role in the series Extreme for NBC and the syndicated series Renegade and Queen of Swords.

Elizabeth Gracen's best-known acting role has been as the character of the Immortal Amanda in the series Highlander: The Series, and its spin-off series, Highlander: The Raven. She is focused currently on writing and directing. Gracen made her directorial debut with a documentary short feature called The Damn Deal. The film is an intimate portrait of three young drag queens from her home state who compete in female impersonator beauty pageants.

Claimed affair with Bill Clinton

In 1992, rumors swirled that Gracen had had an affair with Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton.[4] At first, Gracen dismissed this claim. In Spring 1998 Gracen recanted her six-year-old denial and stated she had a one-night stand with Clinton in 1982.[5] After claiming this, Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, who was investigating Clinton in the Paula Jones lawsuit, issued a subpoena to have her testify her claim in court.[6] Gracen, however, eluded the subpoena[6] and was at one point able to avoid it because Highlander: The Raven was being filmed out of the country.[5] Paula Jones' legal team was also unable to track down Gracen because she had made unscheduled trips to Las Vegas and the Caribbean.[6]

Voiceover work

After Highlander: the Raven was cancelled after the first season, Gracen was unable to find more work in acting and was soon in deep financial trouble.[7] In December 1999,[5] Gracen filed for bankruptcy protection.[5][7] Afterward, Gracen was given a few television guest roles, and a supporting role in the made-for-television movie Interceptor Force 2, before taking a long leave of absence from her acting career in 2002. Gracen recently began doing voiceover work for Blue Hours Productions, which has revived the classic radio anthology Suspense, which airs on Sirius XM. In 2012, Gracen did a character voice-over in the Malaysian animated science fiction film War of the Worlds: Goliath.



  1. "Elizabeth Ward Gracen (1961–) – Encyclopedia of Arkansas". Encyclopedia of Arkansas.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Beauty queen apologises for tryst". Gainesville Sun. April 26, 1998.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  3. Kennedy, Helen (February 8, 2000). "She hitched her star to a wagon for the love of Bill, Hillary put her goals on hold and move to Ark. stick". New York Daily News.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Elizabeth Gracen: the Clinton reign of terror". January 14, 1999.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "All the President's Women – Elizabeth Ward Gracen". Comedy on Tap.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Big Year for the Bad News Bearers". The Washington Post. December 24, 1998.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 http://smokingpen.co.uk/highlander/hl_hldu3-6.html

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Susan Powell
Miss America
Succeeded by
Debra Maffett
Preceded by
Lencola Sullivan
Miss Arkansas
Succeeded by
Micki Petrus
Preceded by
Bobbie Candler
National Sweetheart
Succeeded by
Gloria Gilbert