1958 Miss America Pageant
Pageant Results > Miss America Pageant > 1958 Marilyn Van Derbur
Miss Colorado Marilyn Van Derbur was crowned Miss America 1957 in September 1957, when she crowned by her predecessor, Marian McKnight of South Carolina.
Miss America 1958 Marilyn Van Derbur, Miss Colorado
Van Derbur had played a medley of "Tea for Two" and "Tenderly" on the Hammond organ in the talent competition. It was the only selection she knew how to play. Marilyn's organ was lost in transit to Atlantic City, necessitating organizers to scramble to find her a replacement.
She was one of the few Miss Americas who won their titles without having won a preliminary swimsuit or talent award earlier in the week during preliminary competitions.
She returned to Atlantic City the following year to crown her successor, Miss Mississippi Mary Ann Mobley as Miss America 1959.
Marilyn became such a proficient speaker during her reign that she became a professional speaker and motivational film producer specializing in educational films for youth. Her honors include "Outstanding Woman Speaker of America."
She married attorney Larry Atler, with whom she has one daughter.
During a speech to a small group of women where she assumed she had privacy, she dared to share that she had been the victim of incest throughout her youth. Unbeknownst to Marilyn, a reporter was in the audience. Without Marilyn's knowledge, she broke the story.
Unprepared to go public with that private experience, she was shocked. True to her courageous nature, she chose to use the public attention to address the issue publically and try to use the tragedy to help other girls and women who have been victims of sexual abuse to heal from their ordeals. She also write a book detailing her abuse by her father in "Miss America By Day: Lessons Learned from Ultimate Betrayals and Unconditional Love." She has been extraordinarily effective in increasing awareness about sexual abuse and incest.
Today, Marilyn is a one of the most world's respected advocates for survivors of incest and abuse.
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