The First to Wear the Crown – A Brief Biography of the First 15 Miss America Winners

1921   Margaret Gorman   Washington, DC- Margaret won the title of Miss Washington D.C. in 1921. Her picture was selected out of about 1,000 photos submitted to a popularity contest to the Washington Herald. She then traveled to Atlantic City where she competed in a won an “Inner-City Beauty Contest.”  

1922   Mary Katherine Campbell   Columbus, OH- At the age of 15 Mary Katherine competed against 170 contestants and won the title of Miss Columbus. She went on to study Art at Ohio State University and Ohio Wesleyan.  

1923   Mary Katherine Campbell   Columbus, OH- Mary Katherine returned in 1923 to defend her title. She is the only woman to ever win the crown twice.  

1924   Ruth Malcomson   Philadelphia, PA- Ruth won the title after contending against the largest pool of contestants ever to compete for Miss America (84 contestants.) Ruth’s niece became Miss Pennsylvania in 1956, and her grandniece became Miss Delaware in 1981.  

1925   Fay Lanphier   Oakland, CA- Fay placed third in the national competition in 1924 as Miss Santa Cruz. She then returned to the contest in 1925 as Miss California and won the title of Miss America.  She was the first to win the title representing a whole state. A series of false newspaper reports claimed that the pageant had been pre-arranged in Fay’s favor.  

1926   Norma Smallwood   Tulsa, OK- Norma was the Native American (Cherokee) to win the title of Miss America. Norma did a lot of modeling and was said to have earned about $100,000 during her rein.   

1927   Lois Delander   Joliet, IL- Lois was a quiet and studious girl. She packed her bags the night before the final competition sure that she would not win. She was offered $1,000 a week for stage appearances but chose to return home to focus on her studies.   

 1933   Marian Bergeron   West Haven, CT- Marian was 15 when she was crowned. There was confusion during the score tallying so no one told Marian that she had won. Later a dressing room assistant placed a banner on her and informed her of her victory.    

1935   Henrietta Leaver   Pittsburgh, PA- Henrietta had to drop out of high school during the depression to help earn money to support her family. Her grandmother encouraged her to compete in the Miss Pittsburgh pageant which she won.  When she arrived in Atlantic City for the Miss America competition she learned that for the first time contestants were expected to perform a talent. She sang and tap danced in an evening gown. She was surprised when she won the crown.

 1936   Rose Coyle   Philadelphia, PA-Rose already had professional performing experience when she competed for Miss America. After her song and dance routine the audience went wild. The judges allowed an encore for the first time in the pageants history.

1937   Bette Cooper   Bertrand Island, NJ- Bette entered the Miss Bertrand Island competition as a dare made by some friends. Bette was a devoted student and her parents were not sure if they supported her competing a beauty pageant. They decided to take a family vacation to Atlantic City where Bette won the pageant. 

1938   Marilyn Meseke   Marion, OH- Marilyn was the first Miss America to be crowned when the nation could watch via movie theatre newsreels. Also for the first time during Marilyn’s reign Miss America began making appearances around the country.  

1939   Patricia Donnelly   Detroit, MI- Pat also entered her first pageant as a dare and was crowned Miss Michigan. Not thinking that she would win Miss America she took a swim in her only swimsuit during competition week. When she discovered she had made the finals she had to borrow a suit from a fellow contestant.  

1940   Frances Burke   Philadelphia,- The title of Miss America helped Frances to launch a successful modeling career. She later chose to leave the public eye in order to settle down and raise a family.

1941   Rosemary LaPlanche   Los Angeles, CA- Rosemary was named first runner up to Miss America in 1940. The next year she easily defeated 500 contestants to win Miss California and then won the title of Miss America.  The pageant implemented a rule after her reign that no contestant could compete more than once for the title of Miss America in Atlantic City.

Find out what it takes to win the crown with the best beauty pageant tips.

Write by Trending Shirts

Leave a Reply