1953 Miss America Pageant

1953 Miss America Pageant

Pageant Results > Miss America Pageant > 1953 Neva Langley

Neva Langley, Miss Georgia, won the 1953 Miss America Pageant on September 6, 1952.  A native Floridian, she was attending Georgia's Wesleyan Conservatory when she was encouraged to enter the Miss Georgia pageant. A virtual shoe-in for the crown, no one was surprised when judges announced her as Miss America 1953. She was crowned by outgoing queen, Colleen Kay Hutchins, Miss America 1952, of Utah.
Neva Langley Miss America 1953
Miss America 1953 Neva Langley was one of the most talented winners of all.

One of the most beautiful women ever to wear the Miss America crown, she also had a spectacular figure. In fact, she was so well endowed, that jealous contestants insisted she be frisked for falsies.  Her chaperone's insistence that her curves were due to Mother Nature, and not illegal padding, spared Neva the indignity of being searched.*

Not satisfied with that, parents then complained that she also had rhinestone decorations on the straps of her swimsuit, a violation of pageant rules. She cooperated and removed the offending gems. Not surprisingly, she effortlessly walked away with the preliminary swimsuit competition trophy.*

In the talent competition, she was equally outstanding, winning the preliminary talent award after performing a flawless rendition of the classical favorite Toccata by Khatchaturian on the piano before Deems Taylor, the esteemed New York Times music critic.  Her victory there was predictable given the fact that she was not only a piano major at Wesleyan, but such a gifted pianist that when the lighting went out midway through her talent performance at the Miss Georgia pageant, she simply went on playing the piece  flawlessly in the pitch dark.*

According to "Miss America: In Pursuit of the Crown", her successful reign was a marked by a special appearance during her reign when she was taken backstage on a Marilyn Monroe movie set to meet the star who greeted her wearing nothing but a white bathrobe.*

Although Neva was the only Miss Georgia to ever win the title of Miss America title, she was actually a native of Lakeland, Florida, which also claims her as it's titleholder.

In September 1953, she returned to Atlantic City where she crowned her successor, Evelyn Ay, Miss Pennsylvania.

After her reign, Neva returned home to marry her college sweetheart, investor William (Bill) Pickling, with who she had four children, and numerous grandchildren.

Langley was awarded many distinctions during her life: She was awarded the "Lady Bird Johnson Award", Wesleyan College awarded her  an honorary doctorate of fine arts in 1984, the Georgia chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association recognized her as a "Champion" and Mercer University named its music hall the Neva Langley Fickling Hall. In 2010, Neva returned to the Miss America family for the pageant's historic 90th anniversary celebration to join almost fifty of her Miss America sisters.

Beloved Miss America 1953 Neva Langley Fickling passed away quietly surrounded by her family.

all Miss Americas

  • Miss America 1953: Neva Jane Langley, Miss Georgia
  • 1st runner-up: Ann Marie Garnier, Miss Indiana
  • 2nd runner-up: Jeanne Shores, Miss California (tie)
  • 2nd runner-up: Gwen Harmon, Miss Alabama (tie)
  • 4th runner-up: Jo Hoppe, Miss Illinois, Miss Chicago, Illinois

Sources: *"Miss America: In Pursuit of the Crown"


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