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1960's - Decade in Review

Miss Wyoming 1967, Patricia Ann Martinez singing to the troops during the first U.S.O. tour.
Miss Wyoming 1967,
Patricia Ann Martinez singing to the
troops during the first U.S.O. tour.
The 1960's were once again a time of redefinition for the Miss America Organization, as well as for American society. Despite that, television ratings continued to soar and in 1966 the first color broadcast hit the airways.

But soon, the country's attention began to focus on our involvement in the Vietnam War. As a result, American society experienced a major political upheaval. It became apparent that there was a need for Miss America's role to expand even more. Although the pageant was heavily criticized for the 1967 launch of the 'Miss America U.S.O. Troupes' into Vietnam and around the world, the Miss America Organization to this day maintains its support of the US Armed Forces.

By 1968, Feminists stormed the boardwalk in Atlantic City in their crusade for equal rights. They used Miss America as a symbol for their fight which encouraged even more change for the Miss America Organization.

1960's Timeline

Lynda Mead, Miss America 1960
Lynda Mead
Miss America 1960
Fifteen hundred contestants (since the pageant was resurrected in 1935) were invited back to Atlantic City for the Fortieth Royal Reunion Pageant in September with its theme of "Cinderella." The famed Jacque D'Amboise of the New York City Ballet portrayed Prince Charming. Talent scoring in the 1960 local, state, and national pageants doubled the amounts accorded for the evening wear and swimsuit competitions. Margaret Gorman, Miss America 1921, was the Grand Marshall of the Parade as she rode in a float made of 30,000 roses. Eighty-five million viewers tuned in to see Michigan's Nancy Fleming become Miss America 1961.
Nancy Fleming, Miss America 1961
Nancy Fleming
Miss America 1961
  1961 The Miss Atlantic City competition to select an Official Hostess for the National Finalists was discontinued. Absecon Island residents for the first time were eligible to compete in a local preliminary, which led to the Miss America Pageant finals. State winners no longer met with judges at breakfast conferences. Instead, one-third of the contestants met with them in groups of three in the afternoon prior to their appearance in the evening wear competition each night. Cash scholarships for all non-finalists were raised from $100 to $200. The Coronation Ball staged annually on Saturday at midnight as the climax of Pageant week was discontinued. A magnificent awards luncheon was inaugurated and held on Sunday following the crowning of Miss America. A staging competition between Local and State Pageants was held with winners receiving cash prize incentives. As a result of the competition, a new staging manual was produced to aid all preliminary pageants in their productions for 1962. Asheville, North Carolina's Maria Fletcher was crowned Miss America 1962. Her overseas tour included visits to 31 Army hospitals and Servicemen's Clubs. In November, Al Marks Jr. was elected President of the Miss America Pageant.
Maria Fletcher, Miss America 1962
Maria Fletcher
Miss America 1962
For the first time, contestants received a wardrobe allowance from the national level prior to their appearance in Atlantic City. Miss Ohio Jacquelyn Jeanne Mayer was named Miss America 1963.
Jacquelyn Mayer, Miss America 1963
Jacquelyn Mayer
Miss America 1963
Miss America 1964 (Donna Axum representing Arkansas) and her first runner up both sang the same song. Rules were changed that a song may only be used once in the same performance genre at the national finals. Five state pageants were televised for the first time. For the first time, the Miss America telecast was broadcast live in all U.S. time zones instead of taped repeats in the Western most states. Non-finalist scholarships were raised from $200 to $300.
Donna Axum, Miss America 1964
Donna Axum
Miss America 1964
In an attempt to make Miss America solely an all-state event, key city representation was discontinued. Arizona's Vonda Van Dyke won the 1965 Miss America title, and became the only Miss America to also be named Miss Congeniality. Scholarships awarded since 1945 surpass the $5 million mark.
Vonda Van Dyke, Miss America 1965
Vonda Van Dyke
Miss America 1965
The judges' panel included Academy Award-winning actress Joan Crawford. Kansas acquired its first Miss America as Deborah Bryant won the title for 1966. State and local pageants reached the one-half million dollar mark in annual scholarship funds made available to contestants.
Deborah Bryant, Miss America 1966
Deborah Bryant
Miss America 1966
It was the first color telecast of The Miss America Pageant. Oklahoma's Jane Jayroe conducted the Miss America orchestra as part of her talent presentation to take the 1967 title. National non-finalist scholarships were raised from $300 to $400.
Jane Jayroe, Miss America 1967
Jane Jayroe
Miss America 1967
Lenora S. Slaughter retired as Executive Director. The first Miss America USO troupe entertained our servicemen and women at the front lines and in camps and hospitals in Vietnam. Betty Buckley (Miss Fort Worth 1966) who later went on to become a film, television and Tony Award winning actress, as well as a recording artist, received her first national exposure on the telecast. Debra Barnes, of Kansas, becomes Miss America 1968.
Debra Barnes, Miss America 1968
Debra Barnes
Miss America 1968
Feminists staged a protest outside Boardwalk Hall, which drew national attention that "kicked off" the second wave of feminism. Scholarship awards at the national level were raised by over $10,000. A Junior National Trampoline Champion, Judith Ford, Miss Illinois, thrilled the audience and won the 1969 title.
Judith Ford, Miss America 1969
Judith Ford
Miss America 1969
Miss America 1970, Michigan's Pamela Eldred, became the first ballerina to win the title. Feminist protests continued and the telecast was nearly interrupted. But as the decade came to a close, nearly $7 million dollars in scholarships for women had been awarded since 1945.

Susan Anton, Miss California 1969, performing her talent during the Miss America telecast. Susan was a member of the 1970 U.S.O. Troupe.
Susan Anton,
Miss California 1969, performing
her talent during the Miss America
telecast. Susan was a member
of the 1970 U.S.O. Troupe.

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