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Monday, September 15, 2014


For the third straight year, Miss America came from New York.  Above, Miss America 2015 (she reigns next year) Kira Kazantsev being crowned by Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri.  Miss America 2013 was Mallory Hagen (right, in 2010 as Miss Brooklyn and later in 2012).

The State of New York has had record-breaking pioneering contestants:
  • Nina Davaluri was the first Indian-American to win the pageant.  Note that her parents are from India, and she did a bollywood dance last year.  America has grown up.
  • Miss America 1984, Vanessa Lynn Williams, was the first African American winner.  She abdicated when Penthouse published her without clothes, but  she nevertheless went on to become a star, covering a Disney's Oscar original song from Pocahontas, Colors of the Wind, among her credits.
  • Miss America 1945, Bess Meyerson, was the first Jewish-American winner, and the first from New York.

Bert Parks played host from 1955 to 1979, when he was unceremoniously let go, probably because he was 65.  Part of the problem is that the Pageant organizers neglected to tell him he was fired until the media did.

Incidentally, one of the judges this year was Lee Meriweather, Miss America 1955.  She'll be 80 next year.

Miss America 2001 was Angela Baraquio of Hawaii, who was the first Asian-American, first Filipino-American and first teacher to prevail.  That's her today below.

By the way, Yun Tau Zane was 20 years old when she became Miss Hawaii 1948 and the first Asian American to vie for the crown.  Here she is later in life as Mrs. Chee to the right.

Some interesting facts about the Miss America Pageant:
  • The origins go back to 1920 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
  • In 1921 100,000 gathered on the Boardwalk and watched Margaret Gorman (right) win $100.  She was 16 years old.
  • It was shut down from 1929-1933 due to financial problems plus the notion that it promoted "loose morals."
  • The revival in 1933 resulted in Marian Bergeron as the Golden Mermaid.  She was 15 years old.  
  • Rule Number 7 in the '30's stated:  contestants must be of good health and of the white race.
  • In 1944 the  compensation switched from "furs and movie contracts" to college scholarships.
  • Rule #7 was abolished in 1950, however, it was not until 1970 when the first African-American, Miss Iowa Cheryl Brown (right), competed.
  • Women's rights, particularly, descended on the Pageant, and the annual affair lost luster, had difficulty gaining sponsorship, shifted away from Atlantic City to Las Vegas and other venues, and finally returned to Atlantic City, where it is beginning to regain support as the oldest survival show on television.
  • The only requirements now are that she has to be an American citizen female of responsibility between 17 and 24.
  • Talent is worth 35%, while the swimsuit counts for 15% to get into the finals.

I thought third runner-up Miss Florida Victoria Cowen was the best looking (left), but her dancing was mediocre.  She won the state title six days after the contest ended, when organizers reported they had miscounted the ballot.

Worse, Kira Kazantsev's talent, I thought, was a rather homie red plastic cup acoustics rendition of Pharrell Williams' Happy.  On the other hand, maybe that performance epitomizes what America is today.  Anyway, here is Miss America 2015 one final time:


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