August 5, 1934 |
Chicago, Illinois, U.S
Myrna Hansen (born August 5, 1934) is an American actress, model and beauty pageant titleholder who won Miss USA 1953. She played the part of Lydia in the movie "Raintree County".
She graduated from Carl Schurz High School in Chicago, Illinois, in June 1953. Prior to competing in the 1953 Miss Universe contest, Hansen planned to study animal husbandry in Colorado. She had already mailed her tuition for admission to college, aspiring to become a veterinarian.
Hansen was chosen Miss Photoflash of 1953 by the Chicago Press Photographers Association. She was entered in the Miss USA contest by virtue of winning this title. She was 5'7" tall and weighed 125 pounds. Her measurements included a 37 - inch bust, 25 - inch waist, and 35 - inch hips. By the end of 1955 her bust had increased by an inch. Her measurements read 38 - 25 - 33. She is a blond with brown eyes.
For winning the Miss USA crown Hansen was awarded a Hillman Minx convertible, a Universal Pictures contract, and a $2,500 diamond wrist watch. She also received an ornate trophy presented by Ruth Hampton, actress, and 1952 Miss New Jersey. Hansen was presented with a solid silver and gold replica of the crown on the Statue of Liberty. A gigantic loving cup was also among the prizes she won.
After winning the Miss Illinois USA crown, Hansen, from Chicago, went on to become Illinois's first representative to capture the Miss USA title. She was chosen as runner-up in the Miss Universe contest of 1953. Hedda Hopper reported in March 1954 that Hansen should have been awarded the Miss Universe title. The winner, Christiane Martel of France, was exposed as having been only seventeen when she won.
In January 1954 Hansen accompanied Martel in the sixty-fifth annual Tournament of Roses Parade. They were aboard the float entitled American Heritage. It was an entry of the city of Long Beach, California. Adorned by cupids and thousands of white orchids and chrysanthemums, the float captured the sweepstakes prize.
Hansen negotiated a new seven-year contract with Universal in August 1954. The agreement stipulated that her salary would start at $200 weekly, with options to $900 a week. As a minor she was required to purchase a $25 U.S. savings bond on a weekly basis. When she turned twenty-one in August 1955, she claimed $2,400 in bonds, which had been held for her at the Los Angeles County clerk's office.
Soon after her contract was negotiated, Hansen filmed The Purple Mask (1955). Her character, Constance de Voulois, was one of three female spies in the film. The setting was France after the French Revolution. She followed this project with a role as the fiancee of Jack Kelly in Cult of the Cobra (1955). She played a showgirl in Party Girl (1958), a film which featured Robert Taylor and Cyd Charisse. Her final parts in movies were roles in Goodbye Charlie (1964) and Black Caesar (1973).
Hansen asked MGM for some time away from filming in 1957. She changed her name and cut her hair. She toured the United States on a bus. She worked as a dental receptionist in Memphis, Tennessee and was employed as a waitress and a clerk in various cities. She roomed with other waitresses. Her objective was to learn more "because I knew so little about people and life and I couldn't give sincerity to a role." Her plan worked and she was awarded an MGM contract. Hansen believed her work ethic was responsible for her success as an actress, when compared to contemporary beauty queens.
In December 1955 Hansen made her television debut on the The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show . She appeared on the screen for eight minutes of the CBS-TV show. This was longer than her total time on screen in the fifteen movies she had made. Hansen was featured in two additional appearances as the love interest of Ronnie Burns (actor).
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- Long Beach Independent, Hansen Gains Inch, TV Role In Year, December 9, 1955, Page 49.
- Long Beach Press-Telegram, Myrna Works Hard to Become Actress, August 12, 1957, Page 10.
- Long Beach Press-Telegram, Beauty Winner To Marry, February 10, 1961, Page 27.
- Los Angeles Times, Enters Miss Universe Contest, July 5, 1953, Page A.
- Los Angeles Times, Illinois Girl Selected as Miss United States, July 16, 1953, Page 5.
- Los Angeles Times, Miss Universe and Rich Mate Reported Apart, March 19, 1954, Page 2.
- Los Angeles Times, Court Approves Film Pact of 1953 Miss USA, August 13, 1954, Page 21.
- Los Angeles Times, Myrna Hansen Joins Feminine Spies, October 9, 1954, Page A9.
- Los Angeles Times, Myrna Hansen Picks Up Her $2,400 in Bonds, August 26, 1955, Page A1.
- New York Times, Long Beach Float Wins Roses Prize, January 2, 1954, Page 13.
- New York Times, Raintree County Has Festive Debut, October 3, 1957, Page 32.
- New York Times, Screen: Old-Hat Gunplay, October 29, 1958, Page 30.
- Pasadena Independent, I Tan Faster With Coppertone, May 29, 1959, Page 4.
- Reno Evening Gazette, Ex-Miss USA Divorced, June 24, 1965, Page 29.
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