1939 Miss America Pageant

1939 Miss America Pageant - Patricia Donnelly wins



Patricia Donnelly, Miss Michigan, won the 1939 Miss America pageant. During the talent competition, she charmed the audience with a unique performance - singing while playing "Ol' Man Mose" on the bass fiddle. In the swimsuit competition, she wore a borrowed bathingsuit.
Patricia Donnelly Miss America 1939
Patricia Donnelly Miss Michigan wins the 1939 Miss America title wearing a borrowed swimsuit.

Before winning, the 5'7" brunette beauty had worked as a fashion and photographic model. She had been caring for her ill mother and used part of her appearance income as Miss America to help with her medical expenses.

During her reign, her appearances nationwide to promote patriotism in light of growing war tensions in Europe earned her the nickname, "The Long-Stemmed American Beauty".

At the conclusion of her reign, she returned to Atlantic City to crown her successor, Miss America 1940, Frances Burke, Miss Philadelphia.

Patricia performed on Broadway and in the movie Cover Girl before marrying.

In 1948, she married her husband, Robin Harris, a reporter who worked for the New York Daily News, New York Times and New York Journal-American. The couple had two children. Patricia and her husband worked a travel columnists for Hearst newspapers.*

She lost her battle with throat cancer and died in 2009. According to the Miss America Pageant, " Reflecting on the Miss America title, Pat would fondly say, 'We were the first. We set the pattern for the others to come, and we've all retained a quality that sets us apart.'” **

all Miss Americas

  • Miss America 1939: Patricia Donnelly, Miss Michigan
  • 1st runner-up: Bettye Cornelia Averyt, Miss Oklahoma
  • 2nd runner-up: Annamae Schoonover, Miss Washington
  • 3rd runner-up:  Marguerita Louise Shris, Miss California
  • 4th runner-up: Rosa Marie Elliot, Miss Virginia

Note: Results prior to 1936 are incomplete.  Placement Key: BR=Bather's Review | MP=Most Popular | F=Finalist | EG=Evening Gown Award | T=Talent Award | BM= Best Model | S=Swimsuit Award | MC=Miss Congeniality | QL=Quality of Life Award

Pageant Results > Miss America Pageant > 1939 Patricia Donnelly

Sources: *Orlando Sentinal, ** Miss America Organization

View more pageant history | Miss America Pageant results by year
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