Patricia Donnelly

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Patricia Mary Donnelly
Born(1919-10-30)October 30, 1919
DiedOctober 25, 2009(2009-10-25) (aged 89)
Other names"The Long-Stemmed American Beauty"
OccupationSinger, Hollywood showgirl, plumber, model, newspaper editor
EmployerStork Club, John Robert Powers modeling agency, Hearst Newspapers
TitleMiss America 1939
PredecessorMarilyn Meseke
SuccessorFrances Marie Burke
Robin Harris (m. 1948)

Patricia Donnelly Harris (October 30, 1919 – October 25, 2009) was Miss America in 1939.

Early years[edit]

Born Patricia Mary Donnelly in Durand, Michigan,[1] she was a singer in grade school and on radio programs, and she began singing with a band soon after she finished high school. She also worked as a model for Hudson's department store.[2]

Miss America[edit]

Donnelly was the last to be crowned at the Steel Pier.[3] In the talent competition, she sang the then-new ballad "To You" and the faster-tempo "Old Man Mose". After winning the Miss America title, she traveled across the United States making personal appearances. She was given the nickname "The Long-Stemmed American Beauty".[2]


Following her reign as Miss America, Donnelly sang at the Stork Club, on Broadway, and appeared in some films. She worked for the John Robert Powers modeling agency.[1] Her Broadway credits included the musical revue Priorities of 1942 and the musical comedy The Lady Comes Across (1942).[4]

En route to Chicago on the famous "Super Chief" of railways, she was introduced to Jack Warner of Warner Brothers Studio. He recognized her strong resemblance to Hollywood beauty, Ann Sheridan.

Soon a Hollywood contract was offered, but Donnelly turned it down. "I realized by that time I didn't want my face known," she said. "In other words, I wanted the freedom of movement, to go where I pleased without people knowing who I was."

Personal life[edit]

Donnelly married Robin Harris in 1948 and had two children, Amanda and Stephen. For years she and Robin worked together as travel editors of the Hearst Newspapers.[5]

In 1980, she was diagnosed with throat cancer after years of smoking cigarettes.[6] She underwent a laryngectomy, she spoke with the aid of a prosthesis.[6]

Donnelly died on October 25, 2009 at the age of 89.[7]


  1. ^ a b "Patricia Donnelly Harris, 89, Miss America 1939". Boston Herald. 3 November 2009. Retrieved 18 December 2017 – via pressreader.
  2. ^ a b "1939 Patricia Donnelly Harris (Miss Detroit) becomes our first Miss America!". Miss Michigan. Archived from the original on 18 December 2017. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  3. ^ "Miss America History 1939". Archived from the original on 2006-09-23. Retrieved 2006-12-30.
  4. ^ "Patricia Donnelly". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on 18 December 2017. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  5. ^ "A year was enough; life now is nice". Detroit Free Press. Michigan, Detroit. 12 September 1986. p. B 1. Retrieved December 18, 2017 – via open access
  6. ^ a b Tauber, Michelle; Neill, Mike; Russell, Lisa; Fowler, Joanne; Dam, Julie; Tresniowski, Alex; Miller, Samantha; Dougherty, Steve; Yu, Ting (October 16, 2000). "American Beauties: 80 Years". People.
  7. ^ "In Loving Memory of Miss America 1939 Patricia Donnelly Harris". October 28, 2009. Retrieved March 7, 2011.
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Marilyn Meseke
Miss America
Succeeded by
Frances Marie Burke