Brownielocks and The 3 Bears
(Midi plays only once)
This year's Miss America Pageant will be held on January 30,
America Pageant began in Atlantic City, New Jersey as a bathing beauty contest.
There have been years since it's origin, that the pageant has been held in other
towns in the United States. But, Atlantic City, NJ is considered the birthplace
of this pageant, which is held either in September or October for one week every
of this bathing beauty contest was an idea by some businessmen to help boost the
beachfront economy of Atlantic City. Two local reporters then suggested having a
newspaper convention, in which the editors would also help increase their
circulation by holding entry-level contests where their readers could send in
photographs of beautiful girls in bathing suits. Winners of these
photographic contests would then compete against each other live in Atlantic
City. And, the overall winner (chosen by a panel of well-known artists)
would then be crowned, "Miss America".
first pageant was held in 1921. The contestants wore wool bathing dresses with
baggy tunic tops over leggings or bloomers. They posed on wicker chairs
and paraded along the beach with local officials. The very first Miss America
winner was 16 year old, Margaret Gorman. She was chosen for her athletic good
looks and potential "to shoulder the responsibilities of homemaking and
motherhood" according to one judge.
the Miss America Pageant was discontinued due to charges of indecency by women's
organizations. They said that the bathing suits were too revealing, but there
was also a little bit of a scandal with two of the contestants. One was
discovered to be married. Another one was discovered to have an infant child. So
the pageant remained inactive and didn't start up again until the 1930's.
At this time, Leonora Slaughter, was the pageant's director. She focused on
getting more refined women ages 18 to 28, who had never been married as
contestants. Leonora Slaughter established the Miss America Pageant as we
know it today and she remained in charge for more than 30 years.
years, the pageant has undergone many transformations as well as controversies.
The first Jewish Miss America was Bess Myerson in 1945. The first
African-American Miss America was Vanessa Williams in 1984. Ms. Williams
also became the very first Miss America to have her crown taken away from her
when it was discovered that she had once posed nude for some sexually explicit
photographs. The first visibly disabled Miss America contestant was Theresa
Uchytil (Miss Iowa 2000) who competed in the 2001 Miss
America pageant. Theresa was born without a left hand but in the talent
competition performed a very impressive baton-twirling routine. Another
disabled contestant was
Heather Whitestone (Miss Alabama 1994) who was deaf. She
competed in the 1995 Miss America pageant and won! She is credited as being the
first Miss America with a disability.
feminist protestors disrupted the pageant by throwing bras, girdles and makeup
into a trash can outside Convention Hall and setting them on fire. This gave
rise to the term "bra-burners." In 1999, there was a brief
consideration to remove a waiver that contestants had to sign stating that they
had never been married or pregnant. Basically, the evolution of the Miss
America Pageant seems to parallel the changing attitudes towards women in
pageant is a week-long event. The winning contestants from each of the 50
state pageants arrive in Atlantic City on Monday. It ends on Saturday with
a live television broadcast showing the judging down to the 10 semi-finalists,
then 5 finalists and then the winner. There is also a guest entertainer who
performs as well as song and dance numbers by the contestants.
contestants are judged in 4 categories by celebrity judges: Talent, Swimsuit,
Evening Gown and Interview. In order to get rid of the rumor that the
contest is solely based on physical attraction only, there are numerous
scholarship and other financial prizes to the winners, finalists and
semi-finalists. A few other contestants can also win in specific areas such as
talent, photogenic, physical fitness, and Miss Congeniality.
pageant has been televised since 1954. Bert Parks, who is the most
well-known host, began in 1955. He made the pageant's theme song,
"There She Is, Miss America" famous. And, his version is still the
most recognized, although a few others have sang it.
contestants in the Miss America pageant were judged on the basis of body
measurements. However, around the 1940's things changed. They were
ranked in evening gown = 25%, talent = 25%, swimsuit = 25% and personality =
25%. In 1960, talent grew to rate 30%. But then in 1986, Talent became 40%
of the score.
contestants are given scores in four basic categories:
Talent, Interview, Evening Gown and Swimsuit.
preliminary judging is done by a panel of 7 judges, who then chose the top ten
semifinalists. This group of 10 then gets narrowed down by the final panel of 7
judges (usually well-known celebrities). Then to five finalists and then, the
winner, who is the one with the highest score of the final five.
preliminary scoring goes as follows:
Interview = 30%
On-Stage Personality in Evening Wear = 15%
Physical Fitness in Swimsuit=15%
scoring goes as follows:
Talent = 20%
Preliminary Phase Performance which exhibiting various qualities=40%
television viewers got to participate in the judging. They were invited to call
in their choice for the five finalists, thus becoming the 8th judge.
Evening Gown Competition
As I said
above, the first Miss America contestants wore bathing suits because it began as
a bathing suit contest. So, the winner was always crowned in a bathing suit,
until 1948. At this time, Beatrice (BeBe) Shopp began a new tradition by
being crowned in her evening gown. In the 1920's the evening gown
competition wasn't that much of a big deal. It was a low-key fashion
parade. Now it is an important part of the pageant and judging. This part
of the contest lets the contests show off how successful they are in
choosing gowns that best expresses their personality and self-image.
Over the years, gown styles have changed from loose-fitting Roaring Twenties
"Flapper Dresses" to real poufy, and elaborate ball gowns with a lot
of fabric, netting and heavy beading to real form-fitting gowns that make the
women look like (in the words of one judge) "walking chandeliers."
pressure from feminist groups, an attempt has been made to de-emphasize the way
women look in
their gowns by renaming the competition, "On-Stage Personality in Evening
Wear" to try to show more of their poise
they display while wearing them.
interview part of the contest began in 1990 as a way of showing how a contestant
can handle the unexpected, as well as their ability to handle questions under
pressure while under public scrutiny. When it began, it was just an
extemporaneous, onstage interview based on one single question. But often
times the type of question, or the type of responses that it got, soon made
pageant officials look for a better way to showcase contestant's intelligence
and pressure handling abilities. From 1972 to 1987 contestants memorized
short speeches which they delivered during the Evening Gown Competition.
This soon lead to the individual questioning of each contestant about an issue
of public interest. Then in the 1990's, contestants were asked to write an
essay on whatever issue they had committed themselves to support or pursue if
they won the crown. Contestants have chosen in the past such topics as
sexual abstinence, underage drinking, and organ donation. The interview
accounts for 30% of a contestant's score during the preliminary judging, and
then 20% in the final judging.
previously, the origins of this contest pertained to swimsuits. Today, this
competition has been renamed by the pageant officials and is titled,
"Physical Fitness in Swimsuit" to help tone down the image that the
pageant is merely a "bathing beauty" contest. And, over the
years, the swimsuit styles have also changed with the times. For a while,
all contestants had to wear the same suit. That rule no longer exists. And, in
1997, two-piece suits have been allowed. But, bikinis and thongs are still
forbidden! Contestants must register their swimsuits in advance to make
sure they aren't to risqué.
Miss America to refuse to wear a bathing suit during her reign was Yolande
Betbeze, 1951. At that time, Catalina (the well-known bathing suit manufacturer)
provided all the suits for the pageant contestants since the early 1940's.
After Miss Betbeze refused to participate in any activity (during her reign) in
a bathing suit, Catalina dropped it's sponsorship. Today, contestants
choose their own suits, with the emphasis on physical fitness, rather than
actual body measurements.
Cummings, Miss Vermont, raised some eyebrows in 1997. Why? She appeared in a
two-piece bathing suit exposing a belly-button ring. But, since swimming suit
only accounting for 15% in the preliminary scoring and 10% in the finals, the
contestants' priority is more on developing their talent and speaking skills.
the Talent Competition became mandatory. Maybe it's because so many
contestants want to pursue a career in show business, that the Talent
Competition seems to be dominated by singers and dancers? However, the pageant
has had it share of other talents as well such as hula dancers, baton twirlers,
gymnasts, ventriloquists, oral recitals, and many different musical instruments
besides piano to name a few. In 1949, performances that included live
animals were banned. This is due to an accident that happened when a horse that
was brought on stage barely missed plunging into the orchestra. Also, due
to a fire baton that almost landed in the judge's booth, led to a ban on
anything that might insure spectators.
judging on the Talent Competition is a little more complicated because it has so
much variety. Basically, the judges take into consideration the amount of
discipline involved in developing their talent, how difficult the talent is and
how accomplished the performer appears to be. They also look at stage
presence, facial expressions and showmanship. The idea is NOT to select someone
who "will take her act on the road" as the reigning Miss America, but
a woman who is comfortable with being in the spotlight and has the poise and
confidence to handle the a lot of public appearances. On Saturday night
(the final contest night) only the top 5 performers get to perform their talent
on the live television broadcast (due to time). But, a separate talent award is
given during the preliminary judging.
America Pageant is one of our countries largest scholarship programs for young
women today. It was Leonora Slaughter who came up with the idea of
offering scholarships to pageant finalists. Her message was that "she
wanted winners to become something" rather than just heading off to
Hollywood at the end of their reign. The first Miss America to receive a
scholarship was Bess Myerson in 1945. She used it to pursue her graduate
studies at Columbia University.
winner receives $50,000 in scholarship funds. The runners-up receive $40,000
(1st Place), $30,000 (2nd Place), $25,000 (3rd Place) and $20,000 (4th Place).
The five other semi-finalists (who didn't make it to the top five) all receive
$10,000 each. Other scholarships given out at the preliminary level are:
Artistic Presentation, Lifestyle & Fitness, Presence & Poise, and
Presentation & Community Achievement. The amounts of these other
scholarships vary and go up to $8,000. There is also a Bernie Wayne Performing
Arts Award Scholarship. (Bernie Wayne wrote the theme song. See below for
Walk was designed as a tribute to all Miss America winners. It was designed by
artist Lauren Ewing and unveiled on September 7, 1997. It consists of a
series of bronze plaques set into the sidewalk on Michigan Avenue, extending
from the Atlantic City Convention Center (where the pageant is usually held) all
the way to Atlantic Avenue.
It begins with the first Miss America in 1921, each of these plaques bears the
name of the winner, the year she held the crown and a quotation describing her
response to her new role. The $250,000 monument is illuminated by rose-colored
lights and has now become a real popular Atlantic City tourist attraction.
was born on December 30, 1914 in Atlanta, Georgia. His original name was Bert
Jacobson. He originally began in radio. For more information on his
here! He joined the Miss America Pageant in 1955, and served as it's
emcee from that time until 1980. He became an indispensable part of the
show, with his easygoing on-stage personality. Bert Parks made the
theme song famous and sang it every year as the newly crowned Miss America took
her walk down the runway. Some memorable events during his emceeing days include
the time Parks' microphone went dead in the middle of the Miss America theme
song. Another time he was given a list of the top ten finalists to read, only to
discover that it really was listing all the names of the previous year's
Bert Parks was replaced unceremonially after 25 years. This upset Johnny Carson
so much, that he began a campaign in 1990 to bring Bert Parks back. He
returned in 1990 for one year and never came back. Actor Ron Ely replaced
Bert for two years. Then Gary Collins and his wife, Mary Ann Mobley (who
also happened to be Miss America 1959) hosted the show until 1990. Since then,
Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford have hosted it. So have brother and sister
team, Donny and Marie Osmond.
died on February 2, 1992 of lung cancer, and will forever be remembered as the
emcee of the Miss America Pageant.
She Is, Miss America!"
America theme song was written by Bernie Wayne (1919-1993) who also wrote the
hit song "Blue Velvet." Mr. Wayne was inspired to write a song
for the pageant when he read in the newspaper that it was going to be on
television for the first time. So, in 1954, he sat down to write a song. It took
him one hour. Once Bert Parks started performing this song when he joined
the pageant in 1955, it became so well-known that most people watching could
actually sing along to at least a few lines. I'm sure you can too!
Below are the lyrics to the Miss America theme song if you want to hit refresh
and sing along again.
Wayne died in 1993, but every year a special award is given to a Miss America
contestant in his memory to wants to pursue a career in the performing arts.
Lyrics to the Miss
America Pageant Theme Song:
There she is, Miss America
There she is, your ideal.
The dream of a million girls,
Who are more than pretty,
Can come true in Atlantic City.
For she may turn out to be...
The Queen of femininity!
There she is, Miss America.
There she is, your ideal.
With so many beauties
She took the town by storm,
With her all-American face and form.
And there she is!
Walking on air, she is!
Fairest of the fair, she is!
Midi made especially for us by Ron
Return to our September
Monthly Holidays Listing!
Return to our January Monthly Holidays Listing!
Source of Information:
"Holidays, Symbols & Customs 3rd Edition"
By Sue Ellen Thompson
Omnigraphics, Inc. © 2003
Note: Special thanks to Davene
Blankenship for writing me and correcting me regarding Miss Iowa Theresa
Uchytil. My wording gave the impression that she won and was Miss
America 2000. She did not win. Miss America 2000 was Heather Renee French
My apologies to both great women!
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