1942 Miss America Pageant

1942 Miss America Pageant - Jo-Carroll Dennison Miss Texas wins

Jo-Carroll Dennison, Miss Texas, was crowned Miss America 1942 in September 1941, after winning both the preliminary swimsuit competition and talent competition, where she sang and danced to "Deep in the Heart of Texas".
Jo-Carroll Dennison Miss America 1942
Jo-Carroll Dennison Miss America 1942 become the first wartime titleholder months later when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor drawing the U.S. into World War II.
Crowned by Miss America 1942 Rosemary LaPlanche, she was first Miss Texas ever to win the crown.

On December 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy", the Japanese bombed the U.S. military base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, killing 2,402 Americans.

In an interview with Diane Rhodes, Jo-Carroll shared the experience of serving as the first Miss America as the country entered World War II and observing the phenomenon of  "Rosie the Riveter" first hand.*

"It was an extraordinary job. I went to military bases all the time and the soldiers were so enthusiastic and treated me with such respect. I was a symbol of what they were fighting for -- like the flag or the Statue of Liberty. It had a much bigger connotation than just the title..."I saw all of these women out of kitchens, working for the first times in their lives -- it was a big cultural change."

At the conclusion of her reign, she crowned her successor, Jean Bartel Miss America 1943, Miss California.

Jo-Carroll Dennison Miss America 1942 in Winged Victory
Jo-Carroll Dennison appeared in the movie "Winged Victory"
After her reign, Jo-Carroll was signed by 20th Century-Fox and appeared in several movies including:

  • “Winged Victory” (1944)
  • "State Fair" (1945)
  • “The Jolson Story” (1946)
  • "Prehistoric Women" (1950)
  • "Beyond the Purple Hills" (1950)
  • "Pickup" (1951)

In an interesting coincidence, in 1970 Dennison judged the Miss Texas Pageant, where Miss Denton, Phyllis George, was named the winner, starting her on the road to becoming the second Texas to becoming Miss America 1971.**

Dennison later married and divorced comedian Phil Silvers, followed by a marriage to Russell Stoneham, a CBS executive, with whom she had two sons. Today she lives in California where she is an advocate of hospice care.

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  • Sources: *Diane A. Rhodes in The Press-Enterprise, **www.texasmonthly.com

  • Miss America 1942: Jo-Carroll Dennison, Miss Texas
  • 1st runner-up: Bette Brunck, Miss Chicago
  • 2nd runner-up: Patricia Uline Hill, Miss Michigan
  • 3rd runner-up:  Madeline Layton, Miss New Jersey
  • 4th runner-up: Lucille Lambert, Miss California

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