Image source The TelegraphMiss America 1945 was Bess Myerson, the first Jewish lady to take the title. Following this honour, she became a model and tv actress. She then turned to politics and was seen to be a heroine to the Jewish community. Bess worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for her community.
10. Yolande Betbeze - 1951
Image source Getty ImagesA devout Catholic raised in a convent, Yolande Betbeze refused to pose in a swimsuit after winning the title. "I'm an opera singer, not a pin-up!" she said. Because of her decision, Catalina, the swimsuit pageant sponsor, decided to withdraw its support, at which point rival pageant Miss USA was created.
14. Maria Fletcher -1962
Image source PinterestRepresenting North Carolina, Maria Fletcher was a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall before she entered Miss America. At the Orange Bowl Parade, the newly crowned beauty was unaware that her gown had caught fire and a bystander stomped the flames out!
15. Vonda Van Dyke 1965
Image source TodayThe first contestant ever to appear as a ventriloquist for the talent section of the competition, Vonda Van Dyke from Phoenix scooped the top prize with a little help from her dummy! After her reign she became a singer and author, publishing two books whilst studying at the University of California.
16. Pamela Eldred - 1960
Miss Michigan, Pam Eldred, was Miss America in 1960. After winning, she continued travelling as a dancer and model. Later in life she worked on behalf of several charities especially those involved with special needs families. Pam is now retired along with her husband and living in Florida.
17. Vanessa Williams 1984
Image source TodayMiss New York, Vanessa Williams was the first African American to win Miss America and became very popular all over the States. Ten months after wining, she was forced to resign as private nude snaps taken by a photographer were released and made all the papers. She was, however, allowed to keep the crown and the prize money.
18. Suzette Charles - (Also) 1984
Suzette Charles, Miss New Jersey, stepped in for Vanessa Williams after her resignation. She had been a well know child star, appearing in 'Sesame Street' and 'The Electric Company' when she was 8. After winning Miss America she appeared on several soaps and supported Stevie Wonder on one of his tours.
19. Sharlene Wells - 1985
Image source Getty ImagesBorn in Paraguay, Miss Utah was the beautiful Sharlene Wels who became Miss America in 1985. She was the first foreign born, bilingual Miss America in the beauty contest's history. She played the harp and sang in Spanish for the talent section of the show and it was watched by a record 100 million viewers.
20. Debbye Turner - 1990
Image source Getty ImagesIt took 7 years and competitions in two states for Miss Missouri, Debbye Turner, to finally reach the pinnacle of her beauty pageant career. She became Miss America in 1990 and was hugely popular with the crowd. Beauty was not just skin deep as Debbye trained to be a Veterinary surgeon, gaining her degree a year after she was crowned.
21. Heather Whitestone - 1995
Image source Getty ImagesMiss Alabama, Heather Whitestone, was the first deaf woman to wear the Miss America crown. She started the STARS program, which helps others find 'Success Through Action and Realization of your Dreams'. Heather regained some of her hearing in 2011 with a cochleae implant.
22. Heather Renee French - 2000
Image source Getty ImagesRenee French was Miss Kentucky and won the first crown of the millennium, secured by her time of raising awareness of homeless veterans. At the end of her Miss America term, she won the Woman of Achievement and, more recently, was awarded the Purple Heart Recognition Award for her advocacy for veterans’ issues
23. Deidre Downs - 2005
Image source Getty ImagesMiss Alabama, Deidre Downs, got involved in the pageant world to finance her education at the University of Virginia and it paid off! She had previously given up her volleyball scholarship to concentrate on her education where she graduated at Samford University.
24. Caressa Cameron - 2010
Image source Getty ImagesMiss Virginia was Caressa Cameron and she won the talent portion of the 2010 pageant, competing on a platform of HIV and AIDS awareness. She later addressed over 10,000 students across America and received the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Caressa eventually became a news anchor.
25. Teresa Scanlan - 2011
Image source Getty ImagesMiss Nebraska, Terresa Scanlon, was one of the youngest contestants ever to become Miss America. She was also the first woman from Nebraska to take the title. She revealed afterwards that she had suffered from depression for as long as she could remember but had managed to overcome it.
26. Laura Kaeppeler - 2012
Miss Wisconsin, Laura Kaeppeler, was 25 when she became Miss America, the second winner from her State. During her time in the role, she travelled 20,000 miles a month, working with organisations that cared for children whose parents were in prison. She also supported the military.
27. Mallory Hytes Hagan - 2013
Image sourceMiss New York was Mallory Hagan and the 23 year old tap-danced her way to the crown! The platform she used to compete was child sexual abuse prevention. She attended the Fashion Institute of Technology. She reported that being Miss America was the busiest but most productive time she could ever have imagined.
28. Kira Kazantsev - 2015
Image source Getty ImagesKira Kazantsev, of Russian heritage, living in California, sealed the Miss America title in 2015. She was the third contestant from her State to win the big prize. For her talent portion, she sang 'Happy' by Pharrell Williams, sitting cross-legged on the stage and banging a red plastic cup on the floor!
29. Camille Schrier - 2020
Image source Conan DailyCamille Schrier, from Connecticut, defeated 50 women to take the crown. A Virginian biochemist, she performed a live science experiment on stage, quashing the stereotypes of the contest. The 24 year old impressed judges with her white coat and chemistry demonstration.
30. Emma Broyles - 2021
Image source Hollywood Lives20 year old Miss Alaska, Emma Leigh Broyles, took the title on the 100th anniversary of Miss America. It just goes to show that all good things need not come to an end! Emma was the first Korean-American title holder and the first Miss Alaska to wear the crown.