Miss America 2010 Caressa Cameron

Miss America 1958 Marilyn Van Derbur

Marilyn Van Derbur, Miss America 1958, remains one the most respected Miss Americas ever.  Her road to the national crown was serendipity according to the book Miss America: In Pursuit of the Crown". 

According to the book, Marilyn Van Derbur was literally drafted into the Miss University of Colorado Pageant by her sorority sisters when she was called out of a meeting for a long distance phone call.  Marilyn nearly panicked.  After she reluctantly agreed to go through with it, the girls inquired what Marilyn intended to do for her talent.  "Talent?!", Marilyn gasped.  "What in the world would I do for talent?!  "You'll think of something," her sorority sisters giggled as they rushed off.  Marilyn ended up deciding to memorize one piece - a simple medley of "Tea for Two" and "Tenderly" on the organ - an instrument she had never played.  "It was the only piece I I knew by heart - but I could do it backwards and forwards."

Somehow she pulled it off at the local pageant, the Miss Colorado  pageant, and soon after at Miss America.  To her shock, the morning after her crowning, she was whisked off to New York City to appear on the top-rated The Steve Allen Show where the host informed her seconds before they went on live television that they were about to play Night and Day together!  Par for the course, Van Derbur handled the moment like a good sport and went on the air with Steve Allen playing the piano and Marilyn smiling broadly and pretending to play along on the organ.  As she recalls, "I acted as if I were in complete control."

In 2003, Miss America 1958, Marilyn Van Derbur, publishes "Miss America By Day", her account of growing up as a victim of sexual abuse.  The revelation that a tremendously respected former Miss America had been the victim of incest is met with a huge outpouring of public sympathy - and a flood of contact from women across the country with similar stories.  Overnight, Van Derbur becomes an advocate on the issue and an inspirational model of hope for sexual abuse survivors worldwide.

Marilyn Van Derbur sexual abuse prevention website (Parental guidance is suggested)
 


• Miss Colorado 1957
• Miss America 1958
• Talent: Organ recital of Tea for Two and Tenderly

Miss America interview requestsMiss America interview requests (official MAO site)



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