1969 Miss America Pageant

1969 Miss America Pageant


The 1969 Miss America pageant, which was won by Judith Ford, Miss Illinois, held in September 1968, is one of the most unusual in pageant history...best remembered for a trampoline champion being named Miss America 1969, and noisy protestors marring the broadcast before being dragged away by police.

Judy Ford Miss America 1969
Judy Ford, Miss Illinois, a trampolinist, was named Miss America 1969.

The theme of the 1969 pageant is "Once Upon a Someday", a Cinderella-inspired fairytale theme featuring a giant fairytale book onstage, "Little Miss Someday", and a "pageant prince" who leads the other featured performers as they skip (yes, literally) around the stage.  At one point, they get lost in a magic forest during a lightning storm and hide under a giant mushroom... until Prince Pageant leads them safely away to "somewhere road" ... happily skipping all the way.

The quaint theme is in stark contrast to the ominous mood of the year's politics - the assassinations of Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr and Robert Kennedy, riots in many cities, women's liberation protests, and nationwide anti-war protests.

1969 broadcast interrupted by protestors

The broadcast is interrupted by women's liberation movement protestors who infiltrate the Convention Hall auditorium and create a loud commotion which becomes audible during the broadcast. Observing the shrieking protestors from her anchor booth, commentator Bess Myerson (Miss America 1945), is noticeably unnerved but manages to regain her composure. Police  quickly drag the protestors off to jail.

Judy Ford Miss America 1969
Judy Ford, Miss America 1969, Miss Illinois, won the talent competition performing on a trampoline.

Bert Parks announces the wrong names

The broadcast becomes even more offbeat when, as Bert Parks introduces the non-finalist talent winners on live television, they stop Parks to tell him that he has the right states - but the wrong names. Someone in the orchestra pit interrupts Parks to inform him that they somehow handed him the previous year's names. "This is what?" Parks exclaimed in shock. "1967? You have 1967 here?! Oh this is swwwwellllll!"

Judy Ford, a champion trampolinist, walks off with the 1969 Miss America title

The 1968 pageant also marks the first time a contestant performs on a trampoline during the talent competition. Miss Illinois, Judy Ford, a junior national trampoline champion, performs a gymnastics routine which concludes with her jumping onto a trampoline and performing a variety of impressive leaps, twists and flips in mid-air. There is no spotter, and at one point she appears to be uncomfortably close to the trampoline's edge.

The strikingly pretty blue-eyed blond has won both the preliminary swimsuit and talent competitions earlier in the week - which, according to pageant lore, essentially makes her a shoe-in to win the crown.  Indeed, she bounces off with the national title, but she is visibly shocked by her victory.

all Miss Americas

Pageant Results > Miss America Pageant > 1969 Judy Ford

  • Miss America 1969: Judith Anne Ford, Miss Illinois
  • 1st runner-up: Catherine Monroe, Miss Massachusetts
  • 2nd runner-up: Susan Arlene Thompson, Miss Iowa
  • 3rd runner-up: Marjean Kay Langley, Miss Oregon
  • 4th runner-up: Katherine Virginia Field, Miss Indiana

1969 Finalists

  • Miss Oregon - Worked a a "bacteriologist" in a pea cannery.
  • Miss Iowa - The beauty who won the swimsuit preliminary discusses the advantages of being an Air Force brat.
  • Miss Illinois - Estimates that she jumps 20-25 feet high on her trampoline.
  • Miss Massachusetts - Explains that she learned sign language to communicate with the children she wants to teach.
  • Miss Indiana - Spoke on benefits of public speaking.

1969 Semi-finalists

  • Miss Tennessee
  • Miss Oregon
  • Miss New York
  • Miss Iowa
  • Miss Florida
  • Miss Virginia
  • Miss Illinois
  • Miss Alabama
  • Miss Massachusetts
  • Miss Indiana

1969 Talent Competition

  • Miss Tennessee - A popular singer, she performed "What Now My Love".
  • Miss Oregon - Performed the famous classical ballet dance "The Dying Swan" en pointe - complete with flapping swan wings, etc.
  • Miss New York - Classical aria to Lakmé's "Où va la jeune Hindoue".
  • Miss Iowa - Performed the "Warsaw Concerto" on the piano.
  • Miss Florida - Charleston dance to "Twelfth Street Rag" (comical 1920's flapper routine where she blows bubble gum bubbles while energetically dancing the Charleston).
  • Miss Virginia - Performed "My Heart at Thy Sweet Voice" from the opera "Sampson and Delilah".
  • Miss Illinois - Gymnastics / acrobatic routine and a trampoline exhibit to the circus theme, "Blue Danube".
  • Miss Alabama - Played Debussy's "Gradus Ad Parnassum", "This Is My Country" and "America the Beautiful" on the piano.
  • Miss Massachusetts - Signed the song "What the World Needs Now", using what Bert Park introduced as "manual sign language" while slowly speaking the lyrics. Midway through her performance, she interrupted her signing to dance a bit.
  • Miss Indiana - Popular vocal: Sang Oscar Hammerstein's "Why Was I Born" from the musical "Sweet Adeline". 

Emcees and Hosts

  • Host: Bert Parks
  • Color Commentator: Bess Myerson, Miss America 1945
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