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Miss America's Everlasting Battle With Itself

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
October 14, 2022 3:00 am

Miss America's Everlasting Battle With Itself

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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October 14, 2022 3:00 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, The Miss America Organization has been around for over a century... but through these many years, the pageant has had to conquer a seemingly constant battle to stay accepted and relevant. Here's Amy Argetsinger, author of "There She Was: The Secret History of Miss America", with the full, untold story of Miss America.

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It's easy. Simply go to Geico.com or contact your local agent today. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories, the show where America is the star and the American people. To search for the Our American Stories podcast, go to the iHeartRadio app to Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. The Miss America pageant has been around for over a century, but through these many years, the pageant has had to conquer a seemingly endless battle time and again to stay accepted and to stay current. Up next, you'll hear from Amy Argetzinger, author of There She Was, The Secret History of Miss America, telling us all about this cultural icon that's been written into the American story and the American heart. Here's Amy with a full untold story of Miss America from its beginnings, years of backlash and the events and winners who've helped shape it along the way. The Miss America pageant, which they didn't even call the Miss America pageant the first year, started in 1921. There wasn't really any grand scheme here.

It was just a sideshow. Atlantic City wanted to keep the tourists coming after Labor Day and they decided to have a great big fall frolic festival. They had dancing, they had parades, and one of the publicity stunts to get people from other cities to come to this was having a beauty contest. Their trick was to get a bunch of cities, newspapers in cities that were essentially a train ride away, to send their most beautiful girls. And these newspapers in different cities, Pittsburgh, Camden, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, they would have their most beautiful girl contests where people would vote, judges would decide which girl who had sent their photo in was most beautiful and send her to Atlantic City. There had been beauty pageants before. It was, you know, the kind of thing you might see at the seashore, but the idea of having women who are representing different cities, that was a totally new idea. And also the other new part was that they were in swimsuits. So what started out to be a great big community festival, a big tourist event, the thing that got all the attention that year was the beauty pageant.

Regional newspapers covered it very closely and it was a huge hit. The winner that year was a very young woman named Margaret Gorman, who was Miss Washington, D.C. She was the youngest woman in the competition. She looked like Mary Pickford, who was the big silent movie star at the time. She had long golden curls. This was at a time when, you know, it was the flapper era. A lot of young women were bobbing their hair.

And there's a lot of anxiety about change and modernity. And the people in Atlantic City, they loved the fact that this was an old-fashioned girl. So there really wasn't a mission that first year. It was just a tourist trap.

It was just a gimmick. But they kind of started to fumble their way to their mission that first year when everyone gravitated to this young, seemingly very innocent, naive, unspoiled girl. And that became kind of the ethos that pervaded Miss America. It was all about being wholesome and good and filled with merit, not just pretty, though pretty, of course, was a big part of it. Miss America was a little controversial in its early years.

It actually got shut down in the late 20s after several very successful years because the business owners of Atlantic City thought it was just a little bit sleazy. They didn't like this whole idea of these young women putting themselves in the spotlight, trying to get publicity. So for Miss America to survive, it had to kind of conform to a certain notion of wholesomeness and respectability. There was a new director, a woman named Lenora Slaughter, who was a very proper Southern lady from Florida who came up to run the pageant. And she basically wanted to clean up its image. And she did this by getting local church women to be chaperones, by establishing all of these rules of behavior, like you couldn't be alone with a man, you know, you had to have a curfew. And she also connected the pageant with the local junior chambers of commerce, which later became known as the JC's, which were these very wholesome, small town organizations filled with pillar of the community type young men. She basically got these organizations to run the local pageants and the state pageants that led to Miss America. Before that, sometimes it would just be kind of like these fly-by-night sleazy carnival operators that might be running Miss New Jersey or something. She got rid of all that.

She cleaned it up. She kind of, you know, put white gloves on the whole organization and presented everyone as very respectable and subscribing to very small-town middle-class virtues. And by the time the 1950s rolled around, it had very much fallen in line, the entire organization. It was college women, by and large, they had attached themselves to scholarships. They had promoted these ideas that it wasn't just about having a great swimsuit box, swimsuit body.

It was about winning a college scholarship. They had added interviews and they had added talent competitions to it so that it wasn't just about young women in their bathing suits. It became a big brand name pretty quickly in the 20s and 30s, but it wasn't until 1954 that they put it on television. And that is when Miss America really took off. That was the dawn of television, of course. All the networks were looking for ways to lock in all the local channels that were attaching to their syndicates and they wanted to have like a lot of really exciting live programming. They hadn't quite realized that, you know, sitcoms are fine, reruns are great. Like it was all about having something that was live and spectacular.

Miss America organization actually resisted this for a couple of years because they worried that if the pageant was on TV, well, they'd lose all of the ticket revenue from the people in Philadelphia who would just stay at home to watch it instead of coming on down to the convention hall. So ABC, which was their first network home, had to really convince them. It's like, okay, we're going to give you a really good sponsorship deal.

And so they finally agreed to do it. And it was an immediate sensation. And you've been listening to Amy Argetzinger telling the story of Miss America. And when we come back, more of this American icon, this American brand here on Our American Stories. Here at Our American Stories, we bring you inspiring stories of history, sports, business, faith, and love. Stories from a great and beautiful country that need to be told.

But we can't do it without you. Our stories are free to listen to, but they're not free to make. If you love our stories in America like we do, please go to OurAmericanStories.com and click the donate button. Give a little, give a lot. Help us keep the great American Stories coming.

That's OurAmericanStories.com. Fall is here, which means it's time to refresh your closet. And Saksa 5th is the perfect place to do just that. Let your style take off this fall in chic faux leather jackets, cool chunky boots, trendy totes, and more. Update your wardrobe now with designer names like Stella McCartney, Chloe, Stuart Weitzman, Vince, Moschino, and more. So you can get everything you want at Saksa 5th, all at a price you'll love.

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If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage. It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit U-H-C Medicare health plans dot com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. And we're back with our American stories and the story of the Miss America pageant. Amy Argetsinger had just shared with us the story of the pageant's early years, its success, its failures, and ultimately its reboot and rebranding, something the organization would find itself doing on a number of occasions. When we last left off, Amy was talking about the first year that the pageant aired on live television in 1954 and the immediate sensation that rose from that.

Let's pick up where we last left off. Something like 27 million people watched Lee Meriwether, Miss California, be crowned Miss America that year, and her fame instantly exceeded that of any of the previous Miss Americas. She was the 19-year-old Miss California, and she almost didn't compete because her father died about a month before the competition.

He had been the one very supportive dad. He had encouraged her to enter the local Miss San Francisco pageant, and then he was there to watch her win Miss California, and then he died very suddenly of a stroke. So when Lee was crowned Miss America back then, she had never seen a Miss America pageant, so she didn't really know what was happening. So when they put the sash on her and she realized that this meant she was the winner, she looks up and she starts crying and she says, I hope daddy knows. I hope daddy can see. I hope he's proud, and she starts crying.

Here's the thing. Lee had no idea she was on television at that moment. This was the first year the show was on TV, but the cameras were really discreet, but it's all live on TV, and she's crying, and then her mother comes on and tells her, stop your sniveling, Lee, and she's still crying, and it's all aired on TV live, and people lost their minds because it was so raw. It was so emotional. It was so real.

They'd never seen anything like this. This was one of the biggest shows on television. It was the Oscars, the Super Bowl, which didn't even come along for another decade, and Miss America, and into the 60s and 70s. Those were often the three biggest shows of the entire year, and that's when people all of a sudden could understand what this was. They got caught up in the competition, and in a lot of ways it was the first reality TV. Here it was, this drama of a young woman being catapulted to fame. Now that became the actual text, the actual drama of the show that people were watching live on television across the country, and became truly a popular culture phenomenon, just watched by millions of people.

It was appointment television. It had suddenly reached the top of the list of women. It had suddenly reached this level of respectability, and very much talked about as upstanding young women, and that continued for, I'd say, a good 15 years after it was on television, but in the 70s there was kind of a creeping cynicism about Miss America. So in 1968, there was an organization called New York Radical Women. These were women who had been part of a lot of the protest movements of the day. They had been marching for civil rights. They had been marching against the Vietnam War, but they found themselves being very marginalized within these movements by men. They were the ones who were often doing a lot of the hard work of the organizing, but it was the men who got all the credit. They got radicalized by this, as the title would tell you, and they decided that they would take these skills and lead this own push for women's rights, for women's liberation, as the phrase was then. They knew they had to make a splash, and at that time, Miss America was one of the biggest events of the year, which was one of the biggest TV shows, and they decided that the pageant in September of 1968 would be a fantastic place to launch a protest.

They descended on Atlantic City, and they had signs, you know, no more Miss America, or up against the wall, Bert Parks, referring to the longtime emcee. They had a sheep wearing a beauty pageant sash. They might have even, you know, had like an effigy of Miss America. It was a real spectacle. It stole all the attention from poor little Judy Ford, Miss Illinois, the woman who who won the pageant that year.

She had this spectacular bouffant that stayed in its place while she was doing her trampoline act, but the protest stole all the attention. And it was the first time anyone had raised questions. The first time anyone had really said, what are you doing here? You're parading these young women in their swimsuits, like some kind of cattle auction.

You also just had a more creeping cynicism within journalism in the 1970s. There'd be sort of a raised eyebrow, like, what is this really about? A sense of mockery. And again, the enduring question, like, what are these women doing here? What is this about? Are you going to do this? Are you going to do this?

Are you going to do this? What is this about? You know, is there being objectified? And it led to a lot of soul searching within the Miss America organization. And for the most part, the women's movement moved on. They had made their point. They had put themselves on the map and they had bigger targets to go after following that. But it really was a blow.

It was a wound for Miss America. They really felt by this. It was the first time anyone had raised questions about the meaning of their institution. And it led to a long period of soul searching and angst about what they should do and how they should react to this movement and how they should change to suit a new generation. Through the 60s, this was really a competition for 18-year-olds, 19-year-olds. But one indirect impact of the women's movement is that you had these competitors who were feeling a little more empowered and they were more competitive and they would keep competing.

You know, after even after they're 18 or 19, they would come back the next year and try and try again. And so you had this generation of older, more mature, more confident Miss Americas. And they were interesting women who had stuff to say. And they ended up kind of keeping the attention of the media. Even if there was an undercurrent of skepticism about pageants, the pageants still got a lot of news coverage. People were very interested in the outcome. And every time you had a new Miss America, there's this sense of, well, here's our new ideal.

What does she tell us about young womanhood in 1973 or in 1978? The pageant remained huge. It was still a big, big TV show, this big annual event.

Deep into the 1970s, the networks would fight over who had the rights to broadcast it. And they would throw millions of dollars at the pageant. It was an incredibly lucrative endeavor. And pageant culture continued to be huge. And you've been listening to Amy Argetzinger tell the story of Miss America. And in the end, it's a story about American history, about American cultural history and how the pageant changed because in the end, America changed. But boy, it didn't change fast.

And though there were these big riots and protests in 68, it was still a coveted, coveted piece of live programming by network television well into the 70s. And what's so interesting is how this started. You know, if you're a Jersey Shore person or you know Long Island or the northern beaches, pretty much beach season ends at Labor Day. And so what does Atlantic City do? It comes up with an idea to bring people back in late September. And it's just entrepreneurs trying to figure out the next thing. And ultimately, because it seems a little sleazy just parading girls around in bikinis, well, they bring in the church ladies, they bring in all kinds of folks to make it a more palatable project and a more palatable piece of programming for mainstream America, which happened. And it did very well in the 20s and 30s.

But then came TV and then came 1954 and 27 million people watched Lee Meriwether get crowned Miss America. When we come back, more of this remarkable story, how Miss America came to be, how it survived deep cultural changes here on Our American Stories. Fall is here, which means it's time to refresh your closet and Saksa 5th is the perfect place to do just that. Let your style take off this fall in chic faux leather jackets, cool chunky boots, trendy totes and more. Update your wardrobe now with designer names like Stella McCartney, Chloe, Stuart Weitzman, Vince, Moschino and more. So you can get everything you want at Saksa 5th, all at a price you'll love.

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That's U-N-E-S-T dot C-O. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year. And UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare Annual Enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit U-H-C Medicare Health Plans dot com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. And we're back with our American stories and the story of the cultural icon that's been around for over a century, the Miss America pageant. Here's Amy Argetzinger to continue with the story of Miss America, some of the past winners and the ways in which they changed the entire view of the pageant. Phyllis George was crowned in 1970 and Phyllis was a game changer, not just for Miss America, but for women in general. She was a Texas beauty queen, just kind of, you know, typical all-American girl, cheerleader, played piano, wanted to be a teacher, but she just had this big personality. I mean, she was also great looking, she was also talented, but she had this really dazzling personality.

You know, a lot of Miss Americas in that era, they would get to the end of their year and they'd be ready to go back home, to finish college, to get married, whatever, and kind of go back into quiet lives. Phyllis, though, got a taste of ambition and celebrity during her years as Miss America and decided that she wanted more than what her plan had been. So, you know, she went to New York. The funny thing about her, though, is that Phyllis wasn't an actress. She wasn't a singer, though she could, you know, handle a tune fine enough.

Her talent had been piano, but, you know, let's face it, she wasn't going to be a concert pianist. So she was just trying to make it as something in New York. She was doing a lot of TV commercials and trying out for sitcoms when she ended up going out to meet the president of CBS Sports. What was happening at the time was that CBS Sports was trying to catch up with ABC Sports, which had been doing some really thrilling work, wide world of sports, doing all this dramatic stuff with the Olympics. CBS wanted to catch up and they're thinking, well, how do we do this? And they're realizing the missing element was women, both in terms of who was on TV and who the viewers were. And this one executive thought, I want to have a woman in the announcer's box. And, you know, he had tried with one other woman who was a serious sports journalist and it didn't really work out.

There was a lot of backlash. And he ended up meeting Phyllis and they talked for 30 minutes and he's just making chitchat with her. He's like, so do you know much about sports? And Phyllis says, well, I've dated a lot of athletes. But she's so, she was so charming and so funny and could keep a conversation going.

After 30 minutes, he offers her a job. And so she ends up being a sports commentator and very successful very quickly. She had these incredible communication skills, some of which she learned from being Miss America, some of which had helped her win Miss America. And she would end up doing these softer side stories, you know, profiles of athletes, talking to them at their homes, finding out about their hobbies.

We're all really used to that kind of stuff now, but that was really new and fresh and different at the time. So she ended up being a real glass ceiling breaker in sports broadcasting for women. She was, she was the first to really have success there. You know, she was on a regular show that was a huge hit called NFL Today.

She was the first woman to do commentary during the Super Bowl. It was just this incredible skyrocketing career. And I think a lot of the guys who watched her had no idea she had even been Miss America, but that had been very much her launching pad and the thing that led her to try to reach for greater ambitions. And you also saw that other Miss Americas, other women going into pageants began to see that as a career path. There's always that question like Miss America, what does it even mean?

You know, especially if you're not like an actress or a singer, what does it mean and what do you do with that? Well, Phyllis kind of found that path and with Phyllis's success, pageants in a way became kind of a training ground for this kind of thing. And since then, we've had so many female broadcasters who came from the world of pageants because, yeah, walking around in a swimsuit is part of it, but a lot of it is being able to think on your feet, to answer questions in front of a microphone, to keep a line of conversation going.

And this was a skill set that was perfected in the pageant system. Through the 60s, and even with Phyllis George, the media coverage was very light, was very puffy. They basically wanted to know if the new Miss America had any pets, if she had a boyfriend, you know, what her beauty secrets were. And if anyone ever tried to ask Miss America what she thought about politics, that reporter would be shut down. One of them, I think it was Debbie Bryant in about 1965, a reporter tried to ask about the fact that there had never been any African-American contestants. And what did she think about this? Lenora Slaughter, the head of the pageant, dragged Debbie, the new Miss America, out of the room and basically shouted at the reporters, she shouldn't have to answer questions like that.

She's not the president. I mean, it was just, and they were all coached one way or the other, do not answer these questions. Just don't go there. Don't go where there's any controversy, you know, because they were thinking, oh, what about the advertisers? What about the volunteers?

We don't want to offend anyone. And suddenly you had these Miss Americas who had a certain maturity, life experience, and big career goals. Laurie Lee Shafer, kind of the typical baby boom Miss America, you know, she wore her hair in a flip.

She's made it clear that she did not believe in marijuana or premarital sex. She was a big Nixon fan. She said she had never owned a pair of blue jeans, you know, kind of all the stereotypes you have of a very prim old-fashioned beauty queen. She was a little bit older. She was the first Miss America in many years to already have her college degree. She had been trying for three or four years to become Miss Ohio.

She had been trying for three or four years to become Miss Ohio. She went into this with a lot more maturity. And when the journalists started asking her these questions, she kind of thought, this is really cool that they're interested in what I think.

Laurie insisted that she be allowed to answer these questions. She had political views that she felt strongly about. She had lived through campus protests.

She was a member of the Ladies' Auxiliary for ROTC. She had had unpleasant experiences with campus protesters. So she had strong feelings that she came by honestly. And she didn't want to say no comment. She wanted to say what she thought about Vietnam, about the troops, about Richard Nixon. And so she did. And the press was fascinated, and they'd asked her more questions, and she would hold forth on this. And she had very nuanced views on some topics. You'd never had a Miss America who talked that forthrightly. In later years, it became a ritual where it was almost like a litmus test. Every Miss America would get a, what do you think about abortion?

What do you think about marijuana? But that wasn't always the case. Laurie made that happen. And it was interesting for journalists because, you know, the baby boom was in full flourish. It was a time when everyone was trying to figure out, what's up with the kids these days? What do the young people want? And you have a Miss America who, you know, theoretically she's been crowned as some kind of ideal. And so, okay, here she is. She's our representative of young America.

What does she think? And Laurie showed that this was one way Miss America could be somewhat useful, by stepping up and answering these questions and playing that role of youth ambassador. And you've been listening to Amy Argetsinger. And her book, There She Was, The Secret History of Miss America, is what we're talking about. And that is the story of how Miss America came to be and how it changed. Phyllis George, we learned, changed everything. And anybody who is around, any of you who are older, know what Phyllis George did. And she broke the mold and became a sports broadcaster at CBS, trying to compete with the machine Rune Aldridge had built at ABC. And then comes Laurie Lee Schaeffer. And Miss America was allowed to have opinions about things other than her favorite color.

When we come back, more of this remarkable story, how Miss America came to be, how it changed, survived, and thrived, here on Our American Stories. Fall is here, which means it's time to refresh your closet. And Saksa 5th is the perfect place to do just that. Let your style take off this fall in chic faux leather jackets, cool chunky boots, trendy totes, and more. Update your wardrobe now with designer names like Stella McCartney, Chloe, Stuart Weitzman, Vince, Moschino, and more. So you can get everything you want at Saksa 5th, all at a price you'll love.

Discover all of the fall fashion essentials at up to 70% off at Saksa5th.com or at a Saksa 5th store near you. The Younest app puts smart investing tools right in the palm of your hand. And the funds in your Younest account can be used for anything, from college tuition to building a nest egg to use for other things for your kids. Plus, you can grow your Younest account by making purchases from top brands like Disney Plus and DoorDash. Or share a Younest gifting link, so friends and family can help grow your child's account. Start investing today. Download the Younest app from the App Store or Google Play. See terms and conditions at Younest.co.

That's U-N-E-S-T dot C-O. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year. And UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit U-H-C-Medicare-Health-Plans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. And we're back with our American stories. And with the final portion of the story of the constant yet ever-changing Miss America pageant, back to Amy Argetzinger. So in the late 80s, the head of the Miss America organization was a man named Leonard Horn, who was a trial attorney of all things. I mean, he came to Miss America as a volunteer, like a lot of Atlantic City people. And he became concerned that there wasn't enough for Miss Americas to do. They were basically standing around looking pretty at, you know, sponsors events.

They were signing autographs in drugstores and things like that on behalf of Gillette. And he just thought it was kind of tawdry. And as it happened, that was when a woman named Kaylani Rae Rafko was crowned Miss America in 1987. Kaylani had this spectacular talent of Tahitian dance, really dazzling. But she was also a very serious young woman. She was an oncology nurse who was getting a graduate degree, but she was already working as a nurse. And she had a lot of interesting life experience. And she felt very strongly about the importance of bringing more people into the nursing profession. So when she was Miss America, she was going around, she was talking to charity galas, she was signing signatures in drugstores and appearing at fashion shows and all that.

But she was also scheduling time to go into schools and give them speeches about the importance of nursing careers. Well, the media loved this. It was like incredibly interesting and unexpected and different. Leonard Horn, the director of Miss America, thought, this is amazing. This is really elevating Miss America.

This is giving us more of a sense of mission. And so he decided to make that a formal part of what Miss Americas would do. So a couple of years later, he set a new rule that they would have to have a cause, a platform. And going into the 90s, this really did do a lot for Miss America. I think it kind of gave it a new lease on life.

It gave it a bit of respectability. You had contestants who were talking about homelessness. They were talking about education. They were talking about AIDS. They were talking about all kinds of issues.

And there were a number of advocacy organizations that were truly excited about this. Nicole Johnson, who actually had diabetes and had to wear a diabetes pump during competition, she ended up partnering with groups like JDRF, who were very excited to have this kind of spokesperson for their cause. It lent Miss America a lot of dignity and a lot of sense of mission. A lot of people always loved the story of Heather Whitestone, who was hard of hearing, a deaf Miss America, the first Miss America with with a disability. She was a young woman who socially had trouble fitting in. She was typically going to mainstream schools and because she couldn't hear, often just was not part of the conversation. She always felt bad that people would talk to her and she just didn't recognize and so people thought she was aloof. But she got into pageants and that's where she found a lot of her friendships and her sense of community. When she became Miss America, her crowning was rather dramatic because she couldn't hear them call her name.

She had hearing aids, but they didn't work so well in a situation like that. She could read lips, but it was Regis Philbin reading the names and he was sort of standing behind her. She had no idea that she was Miss America until her first runner-up basically looked her in the eyes and said, it's you. And that's another kind of great TV moment and that was a high moment for for Miss America's ratings in the 90s. You know the pageant of course it's it's much smaller these days, but Miss America kind of put itself up on this pedestal so we think about it in different terms and we we talk about its relevance and I realize it's kind of crazy. It's like there was a time when like TV variety shows were a big deal and that was when Miss America was a big deal. So how is it that Miss America even still exists? There's like no other pop culture icon from the 1920s that is still a thing today except for Mickey Mouse. It's Mickey Mouse and Miss America and that's basically it.

You know why did it why did it last so long? I think that's kind of the the compelling thing about it and I really do think that and I really do think a lot of that is because of the young women who competed and the young women who won. Anytime there is any change in the organization to make it more interesting it wasn't because of the producers or the directors jazzing it up and god knows they tried. You know changing the rules and having call-in voters and you know saying that they had to be barefoot for the swimsuit or you know adding the platforms all of this stuff was just window dressing. The thing that kept people interested was the young women and how they evolved. Whether it was you know someone groundbreaking like Bess Meyerson the first Jewish Miss America or Vanessa Williams the first African-American Miss America or in between some Miss Americas whose names people don't really know anymore who were modern or provocative who pushed things forward. Yolanda Betbees who refused to wear a swimsuit for the sponsors back in 1950 or women like Lori Lee Schaefer or Terry Musen who were a little bit older and they were strident outgoing baby boomers who were willing to talk about politics in the 1970s or women in the 90s like Leanne Zicornet and Kate Schindel who became AIDS activists. These are the women who brought like texture and energy and dynamism to what was an inherently dated and strange format. Miss Americas were changing because young women and our society were changing and that became a compelling narrative for us in the viewing public to follow and we did. You know I think the biggest surprise for a lot of people is to realize the extent that it was a very fervent culture and these women were competing over and over again and it wasn't just that they were competing year after year. They were competing week after week in some cases. They might compete at three or four local competitions and what you have happen there is even though it sounds a little obsessive or weird it's actually the formation of a community and meanwhile they're returning again and again in competition seeing the same people time after time and these are these are women who they have something in common with.

Sure they're rivals but they're also colleagues in a way. I mean it's a great crazy scene of people who are all dressed up but they're also like carrying stadium cups of beer because it's just this big convention center and they're waving signs with their girl's face on it and everything. But you know it's it's a sporting event and even while you think you're there kind of to laugh at it you get caught up in the competition. You get caught up in the horse race and I remember describing this to my uncle.

My uncle was a race car driver. He said to me I don't get it. I don't understand these women or why they do this thing and I explained to him well you know it's kind of they're going for a personal best. They're trying and trying. They like the sense of competition. They go around on the circuit. They see the same people. There's a familiarity and he looked at me he said oh it's a sport.

I get it and I said that's right. It's a sport. These women they're they have this kind of very pragmatic attitude. They're they're wearing sweats. They're pulling you know their roller bags that are filled with makeup or whatever around and it's like it's more like you know the half marathoning circuit or like masters swimming or something like that except that they're wearing you know nick eyelashes.

It's just another sport and its survival is pretty remarkable. And a terrific job on the production by our own Madison Derricotte and a special thanks to Amy Argetsinger author of There She Was The Secret History of Miss America and you can go to your local bookstore go to Amazon or wherever you get your books. We love celebrating authors.

By all means pick up the book there's so much more there and we learned in that last segment that my goodness there were some other game changers too. Kaylani Rae Rafko for instance an oncology nurse who brought in the idea that well these winners can have causes and those causes go on to be aids and other charities and other political causes. Heather Whitestone who was deaf and didn't hear the call when Regis Philbin crowned her Miss America. What a moment on live tv and what we learned in the end is that this is a competition.

It's the spirit of sport. These girls go out on the circuit they get to know one another the local circuit the state circuit and in the end they have good fun competing against one another and learning a lot about life in the process. As Amy pointed out no other pop culture but Mickey Mouse is still around since the 1920s. The story of Miss America here on Our American Stories. You can say yes and to everything when you take a next level beach vacation at Catalonia hotels and resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean with CheapCaribbean.com.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-05 23:23:16 / 2022-12-05 23:40:25 / 17

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