Miss America 1973 Terry Meeuwsen
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Terry Meeuwsen competed in the Miss America Pageant as Miss Wisconsin in September 1972, where she was an immediate crowd favorite and standout in all areas of competition. She was chosen as a preliminary winner in both the swimsuit and talent competitions. A native of Wisconsin and student at St. Norbert College, Terry was a seasoned performer who toured the country with the New Christy Minstrels for two years. 1973 Miss America Pageant results
In fact, she was a seasoned contestant in every respect, with her pageant preparations taking the process of becoming Miss America to a new level. Terry's pageant preparations included her coach directing Terry to belt out a song extemporaneously -- without music -- in clothing stores and other public places... a strategy that obviously must have raised as few eyebrows, but was unquestionably effective in giving her the unshakable confidence she exuded at the national pageant.
There, Meeuwsen's rendition of He Touched Me became the stuff of pageant lore... and made her a shoe-in for the crown (although many though eventual first runner-up, the popular Miss North Carolina Constance Dorn, might pull an upset). Considered to be of a professional quality rarely seen among contestants at the time, her performance immediately became the gold standard of pageant talents and had the effect of raising the bar for future contestants' talent performances. Of course, the fact that she was a professional singer who had extensive experience singing with the New Christie Minstrels, undoubtedly gave her an edge over the other contestants who were largely college students without professional backgrounds.
It came as no surprise to the audience when Terry was announced as the winner. Perhaps not unexpected, the moment, nevertheless carried a surprise for Meeuwsen. According to the book Miss America: In Pursuit of the Crown, Terry quipped that when she heard her name announced as Miss America and took her victory walk, she thought, "At that moment, it's kind of like dying. You're alone. There's nobody that can do it for you." Upon completing her victory walk, emcee Bert Parks asked Terry, "What does it mean to you to be Miss America?" Without remarkable composure that made it clear what the judges must have seen in the private interviews, Terry delivered remarks that pageant insiders consider to be the single most poised, confident and gracious winner's "speech" ever rendered by a new winner. Watch Terry's crowning and winning remarks. Read other humorous pageant quotes...
Meeuwsen was a very popular winner who enjoyed an extremely successful year as Miss America. To this day, she is regarded in pageant circles as one of the most outstanding and memorable winners of all, and remains highly sought-after.
After her reign, Terry began a career in television broadcasting when she was hired to co-host a daily Milwaukee talk show, A New Day, at the NBC affiliate WTMJ-TV. She was later hired as the co-host for the Christian talk show, The 700 Club.
Terry later married Andy Friedrich with whom she now has a family of seven children, five of whom are children of various racial backgrounds whom she and her husband adopted. Viewers were treated to the touching account of the family's adoption of three adorable sisters from Ukraine. Terry's use of her television platform to call attention to the plight of millions of children worldwide who are without parents and in desperate poverty, is credited with inspiring the ministry Orphan’s Promise which now serves underprivileged children around the world.
A committed Christian, Terry has written several books on faith-related
The God Adventure:
Embracing His Power and Purpose for You,
Christmas Memories, and
Just Between Friends: Women Sharing and Learning Together. An
biography about Terry's life called
Terry was also written by Shirlee Monty.
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