A Look at ‘Miss America’ Through the Years

The Miss America Pagent is getting a remodel this year. The swimsuit portion is out and the organization says it will o longer judge women on their physical appearance. This is one of many changes that have taken place during the time the pagent started in 1921.  Take a look at some of the winner from those early years.

1921 What started as a way to boost tourism in Atlantic City ultimately became the pageant that we know today. Of the 10 contestants who competed in 1921, Washington D.C. native Margaret Gorman won two titles — Inter-City Beauty and The Most Beautiful Bathing Girl in America. One year later, she was renamed Miss America, according to the Miss America Organization site.
In 1955, beloved host Bert Parks kicked off his 24-year run with the Miss America pageant, according to the Los Angeles Times. The show aired on television for the second year, and Colorado’s Sharon Kay Ritchie took the crown.
Fifteen hundred women were invited to compete in Atlantic City for the Cinderella-themed Fortieth Royal Reunion Pageant in September 1960. In the end, a whopping 85 million viewers tuned in to watch Nancy Fleming take the crown, according to Today.
The judges panel was star-studded, with Oscar winner Joan Crawford joining the group, according to Variety. Deborah Bryant was the first Kansas resident to claim the title.
1969 Judith Ford (Miss Illinois) was a world-class trampolinist, who performed a routine for the talent portion of the competition. She was even a member of her college’s men’s trampoline team.
1971 Although Phyllis George (pictured) was named Miss America that year, it was Cheryl Adrienne Browne, who was most notable as the show’s first African-American contestant, according Press of Atlantic City.
1984 Before heading to Wisteria Lane, Vanessa Williams donned the crown as the first African-American woman to win the title. But upon learning unauthorized photos of Williams would be released in Penthousemagazine, she was unfairly forced to resign by the Miss America Organization just two months from her one year mark. As a result, runner-up Suzette Charles became the second African-American woman to earn the title.
1925 Fay Lanphier remains the only person to wear the Rose Queen and Miss America crown in the same year. She had a brief acting career after her pageant life.
1989 Long before her news career, Gretchen Carlson took home the crown and sash. She is currently on the board for the Miss America organization. However, multiple Miss Americas have come forward and demanded Gretchen resign from the board after she allegedly bullied multiple contestants.
2014 Nina Davuluri performed a Bollywood dance as her talent, helping her ultimately secure the crown and become the first Indian American to win. She said of her win, “I really wanted to help effect a change in beauty standards …. Miss America’s branding is so associated with the girl next door, which has always meant blonde hair and blue eyes with only a few exceptions, but the girl next door must evolve as the country evolves. When I was younger I wanted to fit in, but I was aware growing up that I didn’t fit that mould, and I really wanted to help make a change that meant young girls wouldn’t feel like that.”
1945 Miss America 1945, Bess Myerson, was the first and only Jewish woman to win the title, according to Forward. She used her platform to speak out against discrimination by teaming up with the Anti-Defamation League. She applied her pageant scholarship money to graduate studies at Juilliard and Columbia University.
1946 The organization divided its new scholarship fund among Miss America Marilyn Buferd and the 15 finalists. They also decided the term “bathing suit” was out, and the more concise “swimsuit” was in, according to Pageantry Magazine.
2000 Angela Perez Baraquio became the first Asian American to wear the crown after beating out Faith Jenkins (Miss Louisiana) and Rita Ng (Miss California.) She went on to help host the 2002 competition.
2003 Ericka Dunlap was the first African American to hold the title of Miss Florida prior to entering the Miss America competition. She won Miss America over runners-up Kanoelani Gibson (Miss Hawaii) and Tina Sauerhammer (Miss Wisconsin.) Dunlap and her husband went on to compete on the 15th season of The Amazing Race.
1933 The pageant was briefly discontinued in 1928 amid push back from women’s groups and church officials, according to Slate. But in 1933, businessmen gathered and revived the event, in the hopes that it would bring in a profit during the Great Depression. Despite all of the hubbub involved, 15-year-old Marion Bergeron took home the title.
1936 With more events and contestants (46 total), the pageant was finally able to pay off its debt the year Rose Veronica Coyle was crowned. This also marked the first year interviews were part of the competition, according to Press of Atlantic City.
1927 Lois Delander (Miss Illinois) won the last title before the show was cancelled for several years. She was 16 when she nabbed the crown.
1941 This was the year the organization changed its name from The Showman’s Variety Jubilee to The Miss America Pageant. And while she was runner-up the year prior, Rosemary LaPlanche ultimately secured the title. She kicked off her year as Miss America traveling with the U.S.O. and selling war bonds, according to Today.

(Via Goodhousekeeping )

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