Trailblazer Actress And Sportscaster Jayne Kennedy, Then And Now

By | April 6, 2019

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Jayne Kennedy poses for a portrait in circa 1985 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Throughout the 1970s, the model, actress and sportscaster Jayne Kennedy was one of the most culturally influential women in the country. Not only was she the most prominent African-American woman on television, but she was one of the only female television announcers who worked in the world of sports. Rising up through the beauty pageant scene, young model Jayne Kennedy achieved visibility as Miss Ohio, went on to appear on TV shows including Laugh-In and the Dean Martin Show, and became a fixture on The NFL Today. Aside from her on-camera work, Kennedy was and still is an advocate for numerous charities.

Just as Kennedy’s career was taking off, a sex tape of her and her ex-husband was leaked, effectively ending her broadcast television work. Even though she faced numerous setbacks and isn’t as popular today as she should be, Kennedy is truly one of the most inspirational women of the '70s and early '80s. 

She Was The First Black Miss Ohio And First Black Celebrity To Be On The Cover Of Playboy

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Jayne Kennedy. Source: Pinterest

For the entirety of Kennedy’s on-screen career, she also worked as a model, and as a pageant contestant. In 1970, she broke new ground when she became the first black Miss Ohio. She then went on to be one of 15 semi-finalists in the 1970 Miss USA Pageant.

Eleven years after her trailblazing win as Miss Ohio, she became the first black actress to appear on the cover of Playboy magazine. This was obviously an important step forward for the magazine at the time, and in Kennedy’s spread, she opted to remain mostly clothed, choosing to keep a chaste air around her persona.