Miss America turns 100
Ok, so it’s not being held in Atlantic City this year, but the Miss America Organization is celebrating the 100th birthday of the venerable competition this year.
According to the pageant, In 1921, Atlantic City hosted “the most beautiful bathing girl in America” competition in which the contestants were judged on personality, social graces, and personal fitness as a competition. Margaret Gorman won and her title was later changed to Miss America.
Over the next few years, the competition became so successful that 1926 Miss America Norma Smallwood made approximately $100,000 in appearance fees, this would equal $1,370,729 today in light of United States inflation.
In 1935, the talent portion of the competition was added and in 1947 the interview was first included. One of the big changes took place in 1945 when Miss America Bess Meyerson received the first college scholarship awarded to the winner (it was $5000). Today, each year, over $5 million in cash and in kind scholarships are awarded.
In the 1990s, each contestant was required to pick a public platform to advocate via a public speaking tour if selected as Miss America.
The pageant has gone through various homes with various hosts, but it’s a shame that the 100th anniversary won’t be celebrated in Atlantic City. This year’s pageant is being held in Connecticut at the Mohegan Sun casino in December. So while it may sometimes seem cheesy or dated, the Miss America Pageant always was associated with AC, so it won’t be quite the same this year.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.