Timeline of major beauty pageants

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Pre 1900s[edit]




  • 1921: Atlantic City, New Jersey hotel owners desire to stage a fall festival to encourage tourism past Labor Day.
    • The festival includes a National Beauty Pageant Tournament (NBPT), with the winner to be titled "Miss America". Eventually, by 1941, the event itself became known as the Miss America Pageant.
    • Newspapers editors are invited to run photo contest to pick winners to represent their counties at the new pageant
    • Eight contestants compete.
    • Margaret Gorman a 16-year-old from Washington, D.C. is crowned the first Miss America (1921).
    • Starting the tradition of the bond between pageantry and the film industry she is said to be a dead ringer for matinee star Mary Pickford.
  • 1923: The popularity of the Miss America Pageant increases to 70 contestants.
    • Mary Katherine Campbell from Columbus, Ohio wins the Miss America Pageant for a second time (1922 & 1923) enacting a rule that the title can not be held more than once.
    • Controversy ensues as Miss America officials forget to install a "no marriage" rule and discover that contestant Helmar Leiderman is not only married but a resident of a state different from the one she was representing.
  • 1929: The Miss America Pageant is discontinued from 1929-1932 due to the effects of the Great Depression.



  • 1934: The Miss America Pageant is revived in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
    • Marian Bergeron a 15-year-old is the winner
    • Controversy ensues when it is learned that she is underage.
    • She is disqualified but her crown is stolen from her hotel just hours after her crowning.
    • The contest is cancelled due to financial troubles.
  • 1935: Lenora Slaughter is hired to run the Miss America Pageant.
    • Reflecting the nation's fascination with Hollywood the contest adds a talent competition
    • Winners receive a professional screen test.
    • Silver screen agents representing moguls like Howard Hughes scout for potential starlets.
    • Dorothy Lamour a 1935 contestant later co-stars in Bob Hope's Road to film series.
  • 1937: Controversy ensues as Belle Cooper disappears with her bachelor chaperon Lou Off
    • A state wide police search is launched only to reveal the Bette and Off had just returned to her hometown so as to attend school.



  • 1942: The Miss America Pageant is threatened during World War II, but in continues in the idea that pageants are good for the American spirit.
  • 1945: In ironic historical coincidence Bess Myerson, Miss America 1945, becomes the first Jewish woman to win a national pageant shortly after World War II along with a first ever pageant scholarship award of $5,000
  • 1948: Reporters attempt to boycott as it is announced by Lenora Slaughter that Miss America Pageant winners will be crowned in a modern gown rather than the traditional bathing suit.
    • As a concession runner-ups pose in swimsuits while Bebe Shopp is crowned Miss America in a gown.



  • 1950: Yolande Betbeze, Miss America 1951, refuses to pose in a swimsuit insisting that she is a classical singer not a pin-up.
    • Catalina swimwear, a major sponsor, quits their support of the Miss America Pageant and starts the Miss Universe Pageant.
  • 1951: With the popularity of American pageants the Festival of Brittan starts the Miss World Pageant with the slogan 'Beauty with a Purpose".
    • Variety Clubs International joins them in order to raise funds for world charities
    • Kiki Haakonson from Sweden is the winner.
  • 1952: 30 women compete in Long Beach, CA for a new Miss USA Pageant, a preliminary to Miss Universe.
    • This title is won by Jackie Laugherty of New York.
    • 29 women compete in a new Miss Universe Pageant.
    • This title is won by Armi Kuvsela of Finland.
    • Reigniting pageants connection to the silver screen actress Piper Laurie crown the Armi.
  • 1953: The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II worldwide royal mania which popularizes public idolization of pageantry and royalty...enter the "American Queens".
  • 1954: First live coast-to-coast broadcast of the Miss America Pageant.
  • 1957: Controversy ensues as Leona Gage resigns after her mother-in-law informs the press that 18-year-old Gage is married and the mother of two children.
    • Leon explains that she entered into the pageant to earn money to support her husbands military salary.
  • 1958: Mobile, Alabama's Azalea contest is expanded into the Junior Miss Pageant (AKA America's Junior Miss, now known as Distinguished Young Women), a scholarship program to recognize outstanding achievement by high school seniors.



  • 1960: CBS begins televising pageants.
    • Corrine Huff becomes the first black woman to compete in a major national pageant, the Miss Ohio-USA Pageant.
  • 1962: Miss Haiti Evelyn Miot becomes the first black woman to make an international semi-finals, at the Miss Universe Pageant.
  • late 1960s: Pageants are now broadcast in color.
  • 1966: Miss America Pageant contestants travel to Vietnam to entertain servicemen with Bob Hope.
    • This starts another pageant tradition.



  • 1970: In a historical coincidence, Cheryl Browne an African-American wins the Iowa title in the Miss America franchise soon after the formation of the Miss Black America Pageant.
    • She does not make the semi-finals.
    • Phyllis George from Texas is crowned the winner.
    • A specialty golden 50th anniversary crown crashes to the floor during her crowning splattering rhinestones along the runway.
  • 1979: After the Miss Universe Pageant in Australia, the stage collapses as 200 reporters and contestants rush forward to congratulate the winner Maritza Sayalero of Venezuela.
    • Two people are hospitalized.



  • 1980: The Miss T.E.E.N. Pageant program honoring teen excellence is founded.
    • Susan McDonald is the first winner.
    • In the 1980 Miss America Pageant, a black woman, Lenola Sullivan from Arkansas places in the top five and wins the swimsuit competition.
    • Shawn Nichols Weatherly from South Carolina becomes the first American in thirteen years to win the Miss Universe title.
  • 1986: Miss Black USA Pageant is started by Karen Arrington.
    • Another pageant Mrs. United States is founded with Sharon Kirkby as the winner.
    • A pageant television series Dream Girl USA is cancelled after only one season.
    • Laurelle Brooks was asked to be one of the contestant of Dream Girl USA and to return for the final show.
  • 1988: An American Pamela Nail of Mississippi wins Miss World for the first time.
  • 1989: Mrs. International Pageant is founded crowning Rhonda Berglan of Oklahoma.
    • Richard Guy and Rex Holt founders of GuyRex, Inc have their fifth title winner in five years crowned with all of their winners coming from Texas.



  • 1990: Russia sends Evia Stalbovska of Latvia as Miss USSR.
    • Finally Miss USA has an African American title holder Carol Gist of Michigan.
    • Ironically Debbie Turner, another African American, wins Miss America (the reign continues as another black woman Marjorie Vincent wins the following year).
    • Miss Black USA Pageant awards its first full tuition scholarship.
  • 1991: Kathie Lee Gifford becomes the first full-fledged woman co-host.
    • Dr. Deborah Williams a practicing psychologist and mother from Texas becomes the first black woman to win a pageant for married women.
    • After reports reveal that she was physically abused by her former fiancé a NFL player Carolyn Sapp achieves national recognition for her campaign against domestic violence making the cover of People magazine and starring in a film about her life.
  • 1993: For the second time in history, black women hold two pageant title crowns simultaneously.

Kenya Moore and Kimberly Aiken.

    • Charlotte Lopez wins viewers' hearts as they discover her story of her thirteen years as a foster child.
    • Prime Time Live airs a feature on her life and she writes a book, "Lost in the System".
  • 1994: Heather Whitestone wins Miss America after performing a ballet to music while deaf and becomes the first physically handicapped woman to win a title.
  • One pageant decides to keep the swimsuit portion of their competition after putting it up to caller votes with 73% voting in favor of it.



  • 2001: Controversy ensues when David Letterman jokes that Andrea Noceti of Colombia talent portion consisted of her swallowing 50 balloons of heroin.
    • She threatens to sue and he apologizes.
    • Ilanit Levy an 18-year-old contestant from Haifa, an Israeli soldier, is forced to wear a bulletproof vest at a pageant due to security concerns.
  • 2002: Oksana Fyodorova a full-time police lieutenant from St. Petersburg, Russia is stripped of her title for failing to fulfill her duties.
    • At a pageant in Nigeria a predominantly Muslim country at the time anti-pageant protest and rioting break out.
    • It is sparked when a female reporter suggests that Islam's Prophet might well have married one of the contestants.
    • Several hundred people are killed.
    • The pageant is moved to London, England after several contestants leave the country due to security concerns.
    • In another international pageant Christina Sawaya of Lebanon pulls out stating that she will not compete in a pageant with Israel's contestant Yamit Har-Noy causing further security concerns for this pageant.
    • Halle Berry a 1986 runner-up wins the 2002 Academy Award for Best Actress in Monster's Ball maintaining the pageant film star connection.
  • 2004: ABC drops the Miss America Pageant.
  • 2006: Danielle Lloyd is stripped of her title in Great Britain after allegations that she had been romantically involved with one of the judges, the Manchester United and England football star Teddy Sheringham, before the competition.
    • The controversy intensifies when she poses nude in Playboy magazine.
    • Legal action is brought against her for bringing the pageant into disrepute.
    • More sexual controversy as Tara Connor is nearly stripped of her title after media reports surface of her engaging in underage drinking, lewd behavior, and other behavior issues.
  • 2009: Dr. Ian Smith partners with a pageant to start the 50 Million Pound Challenge to fight obesity in the African-American community.



  • 2011: Another community minded pageant American Siren with a motto of; "A true pageant featuring the real beauty of a woman: Her ability to be both attractive and intelligent simultaneously capable of reconciling the role of C.E.O. and cover girl." is founded.
    • Solidifying the bond with Hollywood it is launched by Invision Filmworks.


  1. ^ "History of pageants". ygoy.com. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  2. ^ "History of pageants 1920s". pageantcenter.com. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  3. ^ "History of pageants 1930s". pageantcenter.com. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  4. ^ "History of pageants 1940s". pageantcenter.com. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  5. ^ "History of pageants 1950s". pageantcenter.com. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  6. ^ "History of pageants 1960s". pageantcenter.com. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  7. ^ "History of pageants 1970s". pageantcenter.com. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  8. ^ "History of pageants 1980s". pageantcenter.com. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  9. ^ "History of pageants 1990s". pageantcenter.com. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  10. ^ "History of pageants 2000s". pageantcenter.com. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  11. ^ "American Siren Launch". prlog.org. Retrieved 2011-01-28.