Norma Smallwood

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Norma Smallwood
Norma Smallwood.jpg
Born Norma Descygne Smallwood
(1909-05-12)May 12, 1909
Died May 8, 1966(1966-05-08) (aged 56)
Wichita, Kansas
Ethnicity Native American (Cherokee)
Title Miss Tulsa
Miss America 1926
Predecessor Fay Lanphier
Successor Lois Delander
Spouse(s) Thomas Gilcrease
George H. Bruce

Norma Descygne Smallwood (May 12, 1909 – May 8, 1966) captured first place in both the bather's review[1] and the evening gown contest[2] and the following evening was crowned Miss America 1926.[3] Smallwood is noted as being the first Native American (Cherokee) to win the crown. [4]

Smallwood was a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma who earned the Miss Tulsa title and graduated from high school at age 16. She was a student at the Oklahoma College for Women when she competed for Miss America.[1] Her hobbies included swimming, dancing, horseback riding and served as captain of her college hockey team.[5][6] She was the daughter of Edward Smallwood and Mahalia Angela (Robinette) Smallwood. She also had a half sister and a half brother from her father.

During her year as Miss America, she became the poster girl for Meadows Washing Machines and Westinghouse Electric, in addition to many others. It was said she made approximately $100,000 during her year.[7]

She was married twice. Her first marriage, to Thomas Gilcrease[8] (September 3, 1928–October 3, 1933) produced a daughter, Des Cygne L'Amour Gilcrease, who was born on June 12, 1929, in Tulsa. The marriage ended in divorce on May 2, 1934, and the father was awarded sole custody of their daughter.[9][10] Her second husband was George H. Bruce, president of Aladdin Petroleum Corporation.[11]

She died on May 8, 1966, in Wichita, Kansas, aged 56.


  1. ^ a b United Press (1926-09-11). "Miss America Likes Tall Men". The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 1. 
  2. ^ Associated Press (1926-09-10). "Beauty Contest Narrows Down". The Evening Independent. 
  3. ^ United News (1926-09-14). "Miss America Fets Offers to Go In Movies, on Stage, and to Altar". The Evening Independent. p. 2. 
  4. ^ 1926 Norma Smallwood
  5. ^ N.E.A. (1926-09-24). "Miss America 1926 Truly Beautiful and Different". The Evening Independent. p. 10A. 
  6. ^ "Miss America History 1926". Archived from the original on 2006-09-23. Retrieved 2006-12-23. 
  7. ^ "Miss America History 1926". Archived from the original on 2006-09-23. Retrieved 2006-12-23. 
  8. ^ "Miss America Is Oil Man's Bride". The Rock Hill Herald. 1928-09-28. p. 1. 
  9. ^ Associated Press (1934-04-22). "Witness Stirs Beauty Queen". Reading Eagle. p. 1. 
  10. ^ United Press (1937-08-08). "Ex-Beauty Seeks $10,000 Alimony". The Pittsburgh Press. p. 2. 
  11. ^ Associated Press (2007-01-31). "When It Comes To Miss America, Oklahoma Comes Out On Top". Las Vegas Sun. 
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Fay Lanphier
Miss America
Succeeded by
Lois Delander
Preceded by
Sue Starkey
Miss Tulsa
Succeeded by
Virginia Howard