1956 Miss America Pageant
Pageant Results > Miss America Pageant > 1956
Miss America 1956: Sharon Kay Ritchie, Miss Colorado
1st runner-up: Dorothy Mae Johnson, Miss Oregon
2nd runner-up: Florence Gallagher, Miss Chicago, Illinois
3rd runner-up: Clara Faye Arnold, Miss North Carolina
4th runner-up: An Campbell, Miss Oklahoma
Sharon Kay Ritchie, Miss America 1956, was crowned in Atlantic City’s Convention Hall by outgoing queen, Miss America 1955 Lee Meriwether, of California.
That year, a charming young television personality named Burt Parks put in his first appearance as the pageant’s master of ceremonies. He would quickly become symbolic with the pageant’s public persona.
Although representing Colorado, Sharon Kay was actually from Grand Island, Nebraska. She won the Miss Colorado title while attending Colorado Women’s College. She crowned her successor Miss America 1957, Marian McKnight, of South Carolina, the following September in Atlantic City.
Two weeks after crowning McKnight, Sharon and Don Cherry married. The couple traveled together performing for a number of years and raised two sons, Shawn and Stephen. Additionally, Sharon worked as an actress and corporate spokesperson.
After their divorce, she married football player/sportscaster Kyle Rote, E. F. Hutton & Co. chairman Robert M. Fomon, and Terry Mullin.
Tragically, her younger son, Stephen, was killed in the 911 terrorist attack on New York’s Twin Towers.