This city-wide festival was highlighted by a spectacular rolling chair parade down the famed Atlantic City Boardwalk. By , East Coast newspapers were looking for ways to increase their circulation. Newspaper organizations decided to sponsor photographic popularity contests from among their readership and awarded their respective winners with an all expense paid trip to the Second Annual Fall Frolic. The pageant was a product of its times. The years from to were rich with expanding social, political and cultural activity for women.
As America moved headlong from the Victorian to the modern age, a new image for women developed, symbolizing the changing times. According to leading magazines and periodicals of the time, the modern woman was vigorous. She exercised and was encouraged to eat right. This was an unprecedented break from the rigorously controlled physicality prescribed for the ideal 19th century woman, with its emphasis on delicacy and fragility. The first pageant winner reflected these changes in attitude towards beauty.
Margaret Gorman was girlish and wholesome-looking. It is in her type that the hope of the country resides. In , the protestors won, and the pageant was discontinued as commercial supporters withdrew in response to accusations that the pageant lacked decorum. It was a modest success. Decisions were made to increase the number of scheduled public attractions and make it a two-day event the following year. Subsequent city finalists would be judged on personality and social graces during citywide summer events.
They would become known as the Inter-City Beauties. Jumping on the extra media attention the newspaper contests elicited, frolic organizers decided to include yet another event just for them: She would also win a trophy for her appeance in the Boardwalk Parade noting her popularity with the crowds of parade-goers.
Riding on a wave of popularity from the previous day, Margaret Gorman won this event, too. Lesser awards to finalists include swimwear and trophies by designer Annette Kellerman, a woman widely known for her scandalous arrest for indecent exposure. The event was extended to three days.
She was expected to defend her numerous laurels as the returning champ. It was estimated that three hundred thousand people attended. The event had become so big, results of the prize-winners were later aired nationwide via radio. With no rule barring her participation, she finished as a runner up.
Mary Katherine Campbell successfully defended her title. Nichols, and his Board of Directors extended the event to five days. Other notable judges included Norman Rockwell and Earl Carroll. Miss Boston was revealed to be married and placed in the professional division.
She sued, but the pageant finally remembered to include a rule barring married women from competing for the Miss America crown. Rules were changed so that no former Miss America winner would be permitted back into the competition. Although he later confessed that Miss Lanphier never posed for him, public outrage became evident.
In November, despite unsupportable evidence, The New York Graphic sold syndication rights of an article to eighty-six other newspapers that the pageant was fixed. The pageant sued for three million dollars, but the damage was done.
Surprisingly, attendance at the pageant was better than ever. Her romance with the son of a prominent Pittsburgh businessman was also highlighted unfavorably in the press. Miss Delander, a high school student honoring in Latin and a previous award winner for reciting Biblical verses in her hometown of Joliet, was overwhelmed at being chosen the winner.
However thankful, she spoke mostly of her worry in missing school, which had already begun back home. After turning down lucrative offers in show business after her reign, she returned quietly home with her parents to continue her studies. The blow was softened with an agreement to look into its return when the vast Boardwalk Convention Hall was opened in or Amid controversy, Lilyan Andrus of Ohio would claim the title. Some prominent Atlantic City businessmen finally decided to revive the pageant after being convinced they were missing out on valuable revenue by Armand T.
Nichols, who directed the pageant from The outdoor parades and other big attractions were left out due to the high cost that Depression Era businesses could not afford. Due to the lack of adequate publicity, the event was a financial disaster. The pageant was not revived in Atlantic City on secure financial footing until The committee was made up of prominent Atlantic City women.
Images of the beautiful women of the pageant began to permeate the culture through newsreels, newspaper coverage and journals. As the country moved toward the s, Miss America was becoming a national figure. Despite being in the throes of the Great Depression, he convinced the city it was losing out on valuable revenues for having abandoned it. But, Atlantic City Hotelmen refused to endorse its return. Nichols tried to redevelop contacts from the s. But Atlantic City businessmen remained adamant in their decision not to stage the pageant.
Although not nearly the scope of the s events in Atlantic City, it is considered a success. Atlantic City gave Armand T. Thirty representatives took part, most wearing state titles. But gone were the outdoor parades and other attractions deemed too expensive to stage for Depression-era businesses. Prizes to the eventual winner fifteen year old Miss Connecticut, Marian Bergeron were also hard to come by. Miss Oklahoma suffered an appendicitis attack shortly after arrival.
This time both Atlantic City and Armand T. Nichols decided to lay Miss America quietly to rest. Helen Mack, of New York, was proclaimed the winner. Slaughter from the St. Petersburg Florida Chamber of Commerce for a six-week stint that lasted thirty-two years. Her immediate goal was to build interest within Atlantic City itself. The Boardwalk Parade was brought back with , people in attendance.
Fifty-two contestants, representing eleven states and forty-one key cities, took part. The Hostess Committee was formed. Three nights of preliminary competitions were staged. Talent was added as a judged category with twenty-five percent of the total score included towards the selection of Miss America.
Although not mandatory, contestants were encouraged to participate and about half of them displayed their talents. The others relied solely on their interviews with the judges and the scores received in evening wear and swimsuit competitions. Scandal soon again appeared in November when noted Pittsburgh sculptor, Frank Vittor unveiled a nude statue he made of his model, Henrietta Leaver who was then Miss Pittsburgh.
Henrietta declared that she wore a swimsuit at all times and that her grandmother was present for each session, but the press went wild with the story anyway. White, wife of the Atlantic City Mayor, accepted the invitation to serve as the first Chairman of the Hostess Committee.
It was revealed that a leading contender, Phyllis Randall, Miss California, had a marriage annulled. She finished among the top five. For reasons still unknown, Bette quickly left Atlantic City and returned home the next morning before her press conference, which was elaborately staged on the Steel Pier. A rule that contestants were limited to single women, never married, never divorced nor having a marriage annulled was put in place. Another rule that contestants must be between the ages of eighteen and twenty-eight was instituted.
It was estimated that over million moviegoers witnessed the crowning of Miss America through newsreel coverage. The pageant was staged on the world famous Steel Pier for the last time.
Pageant officials had to think quickly and adapt to the changing world around them. Faced with the crisis of wartime, Miss America was transformed into an emblem of patriotism and national pride.
The image of Miss America was connected to the war effort as the winners of those years sold more war bonds than any other public figures. Thus began the tradition of Miss America as a morale booster for American troops. Also during the s, The Miss America Organization created the single most important innovation of its time — a scholarship program.
Slaughter, Pageant Director from to , continued innovations by adding more scholarships. In a close vote which took several hours to decide, Miss Philadelphia Frances Marie Burke took home honors in being named Miss America The judging system used at the National finals was hereafter required at all local and state pageants as well.
Although not the only returning titleholder to come back to the competition, the First Runner Up Rosemary La Planche Miss California , successfully took the national crown as an overwhelming favorite.
The rules were amended so that no woman could compete for the title of Miss America more than once. Slaughter was named Executive Director. Jo-Carroll Dennison became the first Texan to take the title. She and her twenty-nine fellow titleholders carried hope across the nation as they served in camps, hospitals, defense factories, U. Clubs, and Red Cross Canteens. Some even donned the uniforms of women in the armed forces. This planted a seed within the mind of Lenora S.