The Miss America Pageant is a female beauty pageant that is open to U.S. citizens between the ages of 17 and 24. The process for entry into the national pageant begins with winning a local competition and then the state competition. The state winners go on to compete for the title of Miss America, which they hold for one year until a new winner is announced. Contestants are judged on the results of a personal interview, talent, lifestyle and fitness (swimsuit), evening wear and onstage question. Miss America is known as a scholarship pageant, which means that prizes for the winner and runners-up are college scholarships. The Miss America pageant is one of the best known beauty pageants and it has been televised on network television since 1954. Let’s find out who won the inaugural Miss America beauty pageant.
Who won the first Miss America title?
The idea for the Miss America pageant began in 1920 as a marketing plan from the Businessmen’s League of Atlantic City. They wanted to develop ways to keep tourists in the area after the traditional busy period. In 1920 they held the “Fall Frolic” which featured a number of events including a parade of young women. This event was so popular that another was planned for the following year. In 1921 newspapers had begun to sponsor beauty pageants in the region and the Businessmen’s League invited the winners of these pageants to compete in the “Fall Frolic Inter-City Beauty Contest.” This early contest featured a popularity contest and a beauty contest (“Most Beautiful Bathing Girl in America”), with the winner of the beauty contest being crowned the “Golden Mermaid.” Over 100,000 people came to watch the contest on September 8, 1921 and later that day a panel of judges awarded Margaret Gorman the winner of both contests. She was awarded $100 and the golden mermaid trophy for her victory. Next year, when she returned to defend her title, she was draped in an American flag and given the title “Miss America.”
Did you know?
Later in life Margaret Gorman was not overly impressed with her achievement and is credited with saying “It wasn’t my idea. I am so bored by it all. I really want to forget the whole thing.”