DenverPost.com - LIFESTYLES:
By Smithsonian Magazine
Yolande Betbeze Fox, Miss America 1951, donated her crown, sash and scepter to the Smithsonian Institute. (AP file)
Before 'Survivor,' 'The Apprentice' and 'Fear Factor,' only two elimination contests mattered to America. One gave us a president, and the other gave us Miss America.
At the climax of the second, the winner walked on a raised runway wearing her glittering crown while Bert Parks sang, 'There she is, Miss America ...' And so she was a reigning beauty, queen of an envious court, each member of whom had risen through local, county and state contests.
Once, seeing pretty young women walk, stop and twirl in one-piece bathing suits and high heels was enough to raise the collective pulses of any man. But in this age of maximum exposure, the swimsuit competition long ago began to seem as staid as a Pillsbury Bake-Off. The Miss America contest is up against it when women in bikinis are ready to eat bugs and grubs for fame and ratings.
Recognizing the decline, National Museum of American History curator David Shayt thought the Smithsonian should acquire an artifact from this dowager of beauty pageants.
'We figured there'd be lots of clothes,' Shayt says, 'but clothes come with conservation problems, so early on we decided to try for a distinctive, hard artifact.'
Shayt headed for New Jersey, where, at the Sheraton Atlantic City on Miss America Way, a collection of gowns, crowns and a bronze statue of Parks is on permanent display."
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