1957 Miss America Pageant
Pageant Results > Miss America Pageant > 1957 Marian McKnight
Miss South Carolina Marian McKnight, a student at Coker College, was crowned Miss America 1957 in Atlantic City in September 1956. She was crowned by outgoing Miss America 1956 Sharon Ritchie.
Miss America 1957 Marian McKnight, Miss South Carolina
She was one of the rare titleholders who did not win a preliminary competition in swimsuit or talent. The stunning blonde beauty was, however, a self-proclaimed "tomboy" and an exceptionally bright straight-A student and valedictorian of her high school class.*
During the talent competition, Marian performed a comedy monologue, a charming impression of Marilyn Monroe's Diamond's Are a Girl's Best Friend." To her shock, she later learned that Monroe's former husband, Joe DiMaggio, was in the audience watching...a fact she later proclaimed she was just as glad she had not known at the time!
During her reign, she starred in a television commercial for Camay facial soap in which she she expressed - with an adorable thick Southern accent - that her crown and Camay soap always went with her: "Whereva ay goah, theya goah!"
At the end of her reign, she crowned her successor, Miss Colorado, Marilyn Van Derbur as Miss America 1958.
The blue-eyed blonde later became a "Clairol Girl," and attended UCLA where she earned her degree in language. Life magazine named her to its "The Hottest Miss Americas" list, accompanied by a photo in which she appears to be a Grace Kelly ringer.
McKnight married Gary Conway, a handsome actor who was her fellow student at the University of California, Los Angeles. He would later star in such TV program's such as "Daniel Boone", "Burke's Law" and "Land of the Giants". The beautiful couple has one of the longest marriages in Hollywood and have raised a son and daughter.
They also own a successful winery, winery called Carmody McKnight Estate Wines in gorgeous Paso Robles, California. According to their company website, her husband decided to purchase the land after the helicopter he was riding in to tour the property crashed: "Emerging from the wreckage, Gary dusted himself off and promptly announced to the still stunned real estate broker, 'I'm going to buy this place!'" * The couple developed the ranch into an extremely successful winery, which has recently added extra virgin olive oil to its crop and product line. (Visit Marian's olive oil blog here).
A longtime marathon runner, McKnight was chosen to carried the Olympic torch in 1984.
Sources: Carmody McKnight Estate Wines
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