Melania Trump Club

Friday, June 8, 2012

Miss America


Miss America pageant is a long-standing competition which awards scholarships to young women from the 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The winner of the national pageant is awarded the title of "Miss America" for one year.

The pageant originated as a beauty contest in 1921, but now prefers to avoid this term since Swimsuit and Evening Wear comprise 35 percent of the overall score used to judge contestants. The pageant began in Atlantic City, New Jersey and was held there each year in September through 2004 (except for the year 2001, when it was held on October 14).

In January 2006, the pageant moved to its new home and time in Las Vegas, Nevada. The pageant presents itself as a "scholarship pageant," and the primary prizes for the winner and her runners-up are scholarships to the institution of her choice. The Miss America Scholarship program, along with its local and state affiliates, is the largest provider of scholarship money to young women in the United States and in the world. In 2006 it made available more than $45 million in cash and scholarship assistance.Since most of the contestants are college graduates already, or on the verge of graduating, most of their prize money is devoted to graduate school or professional school, or to pay off student loans for courses already taken.

The 91st and current Miss America is Laura Kaeppeler, from Wisconsin, who won the title on January 14, 2012.

Judging
Contestants line up in swimsuits at the Miss America 1953 pageant

The following portions of the competition are what the contestants are judged on:

    Personal Interview In the Personal Interview portion of the competition each contestant converses with the judges on a variety of topics, from frivolous trivia to serious political and social issues. The contestant is awarded points for being well spoken, polite, articulate, and confident. This competition is less known by the general public than other aspects of the pageant, since unlike the other three, it does not take place on a theater stage, nor is it usually televised. The Personal Interview counts for 25% of the contestant's overall score.
    Talent In the Talent portion of the competition the contestant performs on stage before the judges and an audience. The most common talents are singing or dancing, but a variety of other talents may be exhibited at the contestant's choosing; some have demonstrated juggling, playing musical instruments, ventriloquism, quick-draw painting. The Talent portion of the competition counts for 35% of the contestant's overall score.
    Lifestyle & Fitness in Swimsuit In the Swimsuit portion of the competition contestants walk on the stage in swimsuits and high-heeled shoes. The Miss America pageant regulates certain minimum standards of modesty the swimwear must comply with. Judging for this portion of the competition focuses on overall physical fitness, poise and posture. Before 1997, the contestants were required to wear identical, somewhat dated, one-piece suits. In 1996 the pageant held a phone-in poll asking the public to weigh in on whether or not the Swimsuit competition should be continued. 87% of callers voted to retain the swimsuit portion. In 1997 the organization decided to allow contestants to choose their own more revealing two-piece suits, bikinis, or traditional one-piece suits. The Swimsuit competition counts for 15% of the contestant's overall score.
    Evening Wear In the Evening Wear portion of the competition, the contestants are judged on poise and bearing as they walk across the stage. The Evening Wear portion of the competition counts for 20% of the contestant's overall score.
    Onstage Question During the Evening Wear competition the contestants are asked a random question from a pre-determined list that they must then answer onstage with no preparation. Questions are topical and usually involve current events. The questions require the contestant to have knowledge of the event and provide an opinion. The Onstage Question counts for 5% of the contestant's total score

Short-lived section: A casual wear section was added to the Miss America competition in 2003, and was filtering down to state and local competitions; however, the "casual wear" section was canceled in 2006 and is no longer in use at any level of the Miss America Program.

History
Margaret Gorman was the first Miss America Pageant winner in 1921.

The Miss America competition originated on September 7, 1921, as a two-day beauty contest in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The event that year was still called the Atlantic City Pageant, and the winner of the grand prize, the 3-foot Golden Mermaid trophy, was not called "Miss America" until 1922, when she re-entered the pageant. The pageant was initiated in an attempt to keep tourists in Atlantic City after the Labor Day weekend. The mayor at the time, Edward L. Bader, was a strong advocate of the idea.

In 1935, talent was added to the competition. At the time, non-white women were barred from competing, a restriction that was codified in the pageant's "Rule number seven," which stated that "contestants must be of good health and of the white race." No African American women participated until 1970, although African Americans did appear in musical numbers as far back as 1923, when they were cast as slaves. Until at least 1940, contestants were required to complete a biological questionnaire tracing their ancestry.

In the early years of the pageant, a beauty competition of the women wearing nmed laura lopez bathing suits was the main event. Yolande Betbeze, Miss America 1951, refused to pose for publicity pictures while wearing a swimsuit, citing that she wanted to be recognized as a serious opera singer. Catalina swimwear, one of the Miss America sponsors, withdrew and created the Miss USA/Universe pageants.

Lee Meriwether, the 1955 winner, was the first to receive her title during a televised pageant. Contestants from the same state have won the title of Miss America in consecutive years several times. This has occurred with contestants from Pennsylvania (1935 and 1936), Mississippi (1959 and 1960), and Oklahoma (2006 and 2007). Mary Katherine Campbell, Miss Columbus, Ohio, won in both 1922 and 1923, and was also first runner-up in 1924. The rules were changed to limit an entrant to participating in only one year.

The pageant has been nationally televised since 1954. It peaked in the early 1960s, when it was repeatedly the highest-rated program on American television. It was seen as a symbol of the United States, with Miss America often being referred to as the female equivalent of the President. The pageant stressed conservative values; contestants were not expected to have ambitions beyond being a good wife (there is also a Mrs. America pageant). Since the 1980s seven black women have been crowned Miss America.

With the rise of feminism and the civil rights movement the pageant became a target of protests, and its audience began to fade. In 1968, about 400 women from the New York Radical Women protested the event on the Atlantic City boardwalk by crowning a live sheep Miss America. They also symbolically trashed a number of feminine products. These included false eyelashes, high-heeled shoes, curlers, hairspray, makeup, girdles, corsets, and bras. Someone suggested burning the contents of a trash can, but a permit could not be obtained. The media seized on an analogy between draft resisters burning their draft cards and the women burning their bras. In fact, there was no bra burning, nor did anyone take off her bra.:4 The brochure distributed at the protest, "No More Miss America", was later canonized in feminist scholarship.

During the 1970s the pageant began admit blacks and encouraged a new type of professional woman. This was symbolized by the 1974 victory of Rebecca Ann King, a law student who publicly supported legalization of abortion in the United States while Miss America.

Still, ratings flagged. In an attempt to create a younger image, Bert Parks, the pageant's famous emcee from 1955 to 1979, was dismissed. Parks had virtually become an American icon, singing the show's signature song, There She Is, Miss America as the newly-crowned Miss America took her walk down the ramp at the end of each year's pageant. His dismissal prompted public criticism; in protest, Johnny Carson organized a letter-writing campaign to reinstate Parks, but it was unsuccessful. Former TV Tarzan and host of Face the Music, Ron Ely, hosted the pageant that year but was gone the next. Since Parks' departure, many have taken on the role of Miss America TV host. Since Ely, pageant hosts have included Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford, Gary Collins and Mary Ann Mobley (herself a former Miss America), Meredith Vieira, Boomer Esiason, Wayne Brady, Mario Lopez and James Denton. The 2011 pageant was hosted by Brooke Burke and Chris Harrison.

In 1984, Vanessa Williams became the first African-American woman to be crowned Miss America, but resigned from her duties after nude photos of her surfaced in Penthouse. The job was subsequently filled by first runner-up Suzette Charles who carried out the remaining seven weeks as Miss America 1984. Both women are now included on the canonical list of Miss America laureates; Williams is officially designated Miss America 1984 and Charles is officially designated Miss America 1984b.

Many Miss America winners live after their reigns in relative obscurity, but Vanessa Williams has made an internationally prominent career as a singer selling millions of albums worldwide and achieving critical acclaim as an actress on stage, in film and on television. Others who have had prominent careers in show business include Bess Myerson, Mary Ann Mobley, Lee Meriwether, and Phyllis George. The 1989 winner, Gretchen Carlson, went on to have a career in television journalism. Terry Meeuwsen, 1973 winner, went on to co-host the Christian talk show The 700 Club. Myerson, who was the first (and to date only) Jewish Miss America, was selected in 1945, in the face of official antisemitism, including a request by pageant director Lenora Slaughter that she change her name to one less Jewish-sounding. In the 1990s, the pageant was reformed into The Miss America Organization, a not-for-profit corporation with three divisions: the Miss America Pageant, a scholarship fund, and the Miss America foundation.

In 1991, for the 70th anniversary of the Miss America pagaent, host Julie introduced Bert Parks to sing Who I Am". It was the last time Parks performed this song live before his death the following year.

Since the pageant's peak in the early 1960s, its audience has eroded significantly. In 2004, when its audience fell to fewer than 10 million viewers (a huge drop from 33 million viewers just six years before), its broadcaster, ABC, decided to drop the pageant. "Broadcasters show data proving that the talent show and the interviews, the pageant's answers to feminist criticism, were the least popular portions of the pageant, while the swimsuit part still had the power to bring viewers back from the kitchen," said New York Times reporter Iver Peterson. "So pageant officials - who still require chaperons for contestants when they are in Atlantic City - are thinking about showing a little more.

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