1948 Miss America Pageant
Pageant Results > Miss America Pageant > 1948
Miss America 1948: Beatrice (BeBe) Shoppe, Miss Minnesota
1st runner-up: Carol Held, Miss Wyoming
2nd runner-up: Martha Ann Ingram, Miss Alabama
3rd runner-up: Vera Ralston, Miss Kansas
4th runner-up: Donna Jane Briggs, Miss Oklahoma
BeBe Shopp, Miss Minnesota won the 1948 Miss America pageant. The eighteen-year-old Beatrice Shopp from Hopkins, Minnesota was crowned by outgoing Miss America 1947 Barbara Jo Walker of Tennessee. Miss Minnesota played ‘Caprice Viennese” on the vibraharp during the talent competition and won the preliminary swimsuit competition.
The 1948 contest was the first year that Miss America was crowned in an evening gown, rather than the traditional swimsuit. Pageant director Lenora Slaughter, who was determined to guide the pageant in a more wholesome, respectable direction, announced that the new queen would be crowned in her pageant gown. Her announcement outraged the newsmen who covered the pageant and they reacted by boycotting the contest and leaving town before the finals began. Their editors, however, quickly set the newsmen straight and they returned to cover the event.
Miss America 1948, BeBe Shopp, with her runners-up. Movie star Vera Miles is second from left. Shopp was the first winner crowned in an evening gown.The morning after Shopp’s victory, newspapers around the country ran photos of the new Miss America – clad in a modest gown. In a token for the newsmen, however, her runners-up posed with the winner in their swimsuits. It was the last year they would do so.
The 1948 Miss America pageant was noteworthy on several accounts. First, it was the only year that contestants wore peculiar – and exceedingly unflattering – zebra-print knit swimsuits.
After her reign, she returned to Atlantic City to crown her successor, Miss America 1949, Jacque Mercer, Miss Arizona.
BeBe graduated from the Manhattan School of Music and married Air Force Lieutenant Bayard David Waring. Following their wedding, she relocated to Texas to follow her new husband to the Texas Air Force base where he was stationed. Waring eventually became a business executive, and the couple raised four daughters together.
Shopp is a licensed lay minister who enjoys conducting motivational seminars for children, and she remains very involved in supporting the Miss America program.
Sources: “Miss America: In Pursuit of the Crown”, New York Times