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1951

Yolande Betbeze
Mobile, Alabama

In Yolande's words, she made a stand for "propriety" that has gone down as a significant flash of pageant history and altered the course of its future. Yolande entered the Miss America Pageant for the scholarship opportunity it presented. Having spent the previous years of her life in convent schooling, posing in a swimsuit was heretofore unheard of for Yolande. After winning the Miss America title, Yolande declared, "I'm an opera singer, not a pin-up!" and refused posing in a bathing suit again. Because of Yolande's steadfast stance, Catalina, the swimsuit Pageant sponsor, pulled out of the Miss America Pageant and started the Miss USA Pageant. Her actions gained foreign press attention, enhancing American interest, and did much for the future of Miss America. Today, Yolande feels her actions have been pivotal in directing pageant progress towards recognizing intellect, values and leadership abilities, rather than focusing on beauty alone. Always courageous and sometimes controversial, Yolande has always been ahead of her time, tackling tough issues and making a stand before the issues at hand were fashionable. From being an official ambassador to Paris-to making a stand for civil rights by picketing Woolworth's at Times Square-to being a forerunner in the Feminist Movement, Yolande has used her superb philosophical stance and intellectual skills to garner the attention of the nation and promote progress. Yolande was married to movie tycoon, Matthew Fox, and resided in California until the time of his death. She has one daughter and one grandchild. Yolande continues to travel the globe, devoting a great deal of energy to philanthropic causes. She celebrated her 50th Miss America Anniversary at the 80th Anniversary Celebration in October 2000.

 

Yolande Betbeze, Miss America 1951

Yolande Betbeze, Miss America 1951

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