Miss USA Pageant

Miss USA Pageant History and Winners

In 1952, the Catalina swimsuit company stages the first "Miss USA" beauty contest in Long Beach, California as part of its new "Miss Universe" pageant to promote its line of swimsuits. Thirty American contestants compete to be named the first Miss USA and represent the USA in the sister Miss Universe contest. Miss New York USA, Jackie Lougherty, wins the USA laurels and competes for the first Miss Universe title, but loses to Miss Finland, Armi Kuusela.

Leona GageIn 1957, the Miss USA pageant is embroiled in controversy when the newly-crowned Miss USA, Leona Gage, an 18-year-old beauty, is discovered to be not only married to an Air Force sergeant, but the mother of two little boys. She is dethroned. The emotional winner, who ironically has been turned in by her mother-in-law, explains that she entered the competition because she needed the prize money to supplement her family's meager military salary.

Miss Universe stage sceneIn 1965, the combined Miss USA - Miss Universe beauty contest officially separates into two televised pageants -- Miss USA and Miss Universe -- beginning a tradition that would become one of the highest rated television specials in the world. Apasra Hongsakula, Miss Thailand, and Sue Downey, Miss Ohio, win the Miss Universe and Miss USA titles, respectively.

In 1967, Sylvia Hitchcock, Miss Alabama USA, becomes the first Miss USA to capture the coveted Miss Universe title in seven years.  Miss Florida, Cheryl Ann Patton, assumes the Miss USA title.

In 1972, the Miss USA Pageant was broadcast live via satellite for the first time from Puerto Rico. The following year, the event launched the tradition of Miss USA pageants being broadcast from various cities throughout the country, unlike the rival Miss America pageant, which was exclusively held in the same city, Atlantic City, for almost a century.  

In 1995, Chelsi Smith, Miss Texas USA, became the first bi-racial Miss USA® to be named Miss Universe®.

In 2002, Halle Berry, who competed as Miss Ohio USA and finished as first runner-up to Christie Fitchner in 1986 Miss USA Pageant, becomes the first African American women to win an Academy Award (2002) for Best Actress, for her role in the film Monster's Ball.

Tara Connor, Miss USA 2006 In 2006, Tara Connor, Miss USA 2006, is nearly dethroned after reports are published claiming she has been partying at bars and nightclubs, underage drinking (in New York, the legal drinking age is 21), kissing Miss Teen USA, and other unspecified "misbehavior". On December 15th, 2006, in a  packed press conference, pageant owner Donald Trump announces that Connor will be given "a second chance".  He explains that Conner will complete a rehabilitation program and eventually resume her duties... and that if she slips up, she "will be immediately replaced." Connor attends rehab and completes her reign as Miss USA 2006 without a problem.

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PageantCenter.com is not affiliated in any way with the Miss USA Pageant. Miss USA ® is a registered trademark of the Miss Universe Organization. All trademarks on this web site whether registered or not, are the property of their respective owners.

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