Shawn Nichols Weatherly was born on 24th July 1959 in San Antonio, Texas, she was the youngest of three children. Her father was stationed in San Antonio with the Air Force. When Shawn was 5, her father retired and the Weatherly family relocated to Sumter, South Carolina. Her mother Joanne was a former Christian Dior model who was based in Paris. Shawn lost her mother to cancer when she was 9 and her father passed away whilst she was away at sea filming the oceanQuest series.

It was Shawn's brother Kurt who persuaded her to enter beauty pageants. She was studying nursing at Clemson University in South Carolina where she was also a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority. It was at this time that her brother Kurt, dared her to  enter a Miss 10 contest. Unsurprisingly, Shawn won the contest and that's where it all started. She graduated from Clemson in 1982.

In 1980, Shawn won the title of Miss South Carolina USA. The same year, she also participated in the Miss USA pageant which was broadcast live on television from Biloxi, Mississippi. Shawn easily won the preliminary competition and continued on to win all three rounds of the final competition which comprised of the interview, evening gown and swimsuit contest. Shawn was the only woman to score above 9.0 in the preliminary rounds as well as in the swimsuit and evening gown contests. That made her the second woman from South Carolina to win the title.

In July of the same year, Shawn participated in the Miss Universe pageant which took place in Seoul, South Korea. Again she stunned the judges with her natural beauty and won every round of the competition. At the time of the event, Shawn was dating Dwight Clark, a professional American football player who also hailed from Carolina and whom she met at Clemson. Dwight was present at the Miss Universe pageant to witness Shawn's triumphant victory.

Shawn was the fifth Miss Universe from the USA and the second woman from South Carolina to win the title which made South Carolina one of the most successful states in the pageant contest. There were no further winners from the USA after Shawn until 1995.

According to IMDB (Internet Movie Database), Shawn is 5' 8" (1.73m) in height with 35-25-35 measurements and has scars on her knees from two operations which she had in high school to repair cartilage damage from track injuries.

Following her pageant wins, Shawn relocated to Los Angeles where she began to get offers of TV roles, firstly as a regular on the short-lived TV series 'Shaping Up' as Melissa McDonald, followed by guest roles on 'The Dukes of Hazzard', 'T.J. Hooker', 'Hunter', 'The A-Team' and 'Happy Days'.

It was on the set of 'Happy Days', that she met actor Ted McGinley and they dated for the next few years that were to follow.

One of Shawn's most notable TV appearances was in diver and explorer Al Giddings' adventure series OceanQuest, in which she participated in ocean dives all over the world, one of which brought her face to face with the deadly Great White Shark, ironically the creature that ended the life of lifeguard Jill Riley in Baywatch.

In 1984, Shawn landed a role alongside legendary singer Dean Martin in the star studded movie 'Cannonball Run II', her next movie part after that would be in 1986 starring alongside Steve Guttenberg as Cadet Karen Adams in the third installment of the successful Police Academy series - Police Academt III: Back in Training.

Nine years after her reign as Miss Universe, Shawn returned to prominence and the limelight once again, when she took the role of lifeguard Jill Riley in the first season of NBC's Baywatch. She became highly dissatisfied with the character's lack of development and left the series before the season ended in 1990, her character suffered a fatal shark attack which meant that Shawn could never return to the show. 

Having already appeared in a string of other internationally renowned TV shows prior to Baywatch, it was no surprised that Shawn's film career began to take off following her departure from Baywatch. Roles in the movies 'Thieves of Fortune', alongside Lee Van Cleef, Amityville 1992: It's About Time and Shadowzone were just a few in which Shawn played lead roles.

Nowadays Shawn is no longer in the spotlight and goes by her full married name of Shawn Weatherly Harris. Her most recent TV role came in 2010 in the US crime series Cold Case, this was her first acting role since 2001. She currently resides in Newport Beach, California with her husband Chip Harris and their two children Jack and Jessica. She still visits her hometown of Sumter from time to time but now works in California alongside her mother-in-law Shirley Harris and her sister-in-law Susan in the real estate market.

Further to Shawn's real estate business, I'm informed that her business has closed down - so exactly what she does nowadays is as of yet unknown.