1921 Miss America Pageant - Margaret Gorman wins
Miss America Pageant history began in 1921, when the first Miss America, Margaret Gorman, won the crown at the first "national beauty tournament" in the famous seaside vacation mecca, Atlantic City. There, Miss Washington, D.C., a wholesome blond high school freshman, emerged as the audience favorite and walked off with the first crown and trophy.
The first Miss America was Margaret Gorman, Miss Washington, DC, who won the crown in 1921.
It was era of intoxicating new freedoms for young women ...and they reveled in their new freedoms. More daring girls sheared off their hair into the fashionable short "bob", bound their breasts down into the new flat-chested silhouette that was all the rage, and partied the night away dancing the "Charleston", earning the derisive nickname "flappers."
Conversely, girls of a more conservative nature modeled themselves after "America's Sweetheart", Mary Pickford, a super-star of silent movies whose long ringlets were the height of fashion - and whose sweetly feminine image was the polar opposite of the racy flapper.
As Miss Washington DC, Gorman was a dead-ringer for the sweet blonde matinee idol and boasted suitable wholesome measurements (30-25-32) ... setting the standard from day one that, in any given era, Miss Americas almost always reflect a more wholesome brand of femininity (albeit, with markedly improved measurements). Samuel Gompers, an elderly labor executive, gushed that adorable little queen, "represents the type of womanhood America needs -- strong, red-blooded, able to shoulder the responsibilities of homemaking and motherhood."
Gorman returned to Atlantic City the following fall where she nearly walked away with the winner's crown a second time, finishing as first runner-up to Mary Katherine Campbell, Miss Columbus, Ohio, who became the Miss America pageant's only two-time winner.
After her reign, Gorman returned to complete high school, married Victor Cahill, an East coast real estate investor, and enjoyed a long, somewhat reclusive life until her death in 1995.
Beauty group winners:
Inter-city beauty contest winners:
"Professional beauty" group winners:
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