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1970's - Decade in Review

Miss America 1974, crowning Shirley Cothran, Miss America 1975
Rebecca King,
Miss America 1974,
crowning Shirley Cothran,
Miss America 1975

The 50th Anniversary in 1970 saw a rise in television ratings, but people were still questioning the relevance of Miss America. By 1974, a law student crowned a doctorate student. The groundwork for the modern Miss America - a sophisticated, eloquent, well-educated public figure - was sealed. Not only were contestants becoming more interested in gaining a good education, they also saw Miss America as a means to success. As the momentum of the women's movement grew, the women of Miss America were increasingly turning their attention to professional goals.

1970's Timeline

Pamela Eldred, Miss America 1970
Pamela Eldred
Miss America 1970
Miss America celebrated its Golden Anniversary. Annual scholarships awarded through local, state and national competition reached $750,000. Cheryl Adrienne Browne of Iowa became the first African-American woman to compete for the Miss America title in Atlantic City. The Allman Medical Scholarship Foundation was initiated. Miss America 1970, Pamela Eldred crowned Phyllis George, Miss Texas, as Miss America 1971.
Phyllis George, Miss America 1971
Phyllis George
Miss America 1971
In August 1971, the fifth Miss America USO Show performed a 22-day tour of Vietnam. In September, Miss Ohio, Laurel Schaefer was crowned Miss America 1972. Annual scholarship totals reached $850,000.
Laurel Lea Schaefer, Miss America 1972
Laurel Lea Schaefer
Miss America 1972
Two Miss America USO tours were formed: Asian and European. Total scholarships awarded since 1945 surpassed the $10 million dollar mark. Wisconsin's own Terry Meeuwsen won the title of Miss America 1973, wearing a much-publicized American POW bracelet.
Terry Meeuwsen, Miss America 1973
Terry Meeuwsen
Miss America 1973
Colorado's Rebecca King, Miss America 1974, shocked the nation when she admitted she entered for the scholarship money. Rebecca received nationwide publicity during her tenure for her pro-choice stance while a country was torn over the Roe vs. Wade issue. She became the first Miss America to use her scholarship funds to attend and graduate from law school.
Rebecca King, Miss America 1974
Rebecca King
Miss America 1974
NOW (National Organization of Women) held its annual convention in Atlantic City during pageant week. Rebecca King, Miss America 1974 was invited to speak. At the conclusion of pageant week, Rebecca crowned 21-year-old doctoral candidate Shirley Cothran of Texas as Miss America 1975. Regarding the NOW convention, Shirley was quoted in The New York Times as saying "I respect what they are doing, and hope they can respect me for what I'm doing. Until I get married I prefer 'Miss' Cothran rather than 'Ms'." The "Miss America" robe and "Miss America" sash were abandoned at end of the Saturday night finals. Scholarships available at the local, state and national levels reached $1 million annually.
Shirley Cothran, Miss America 1975
Shirley Cothran
Miss America 1975
Playing her own piano composition "Images in Pastels", Miss New York, Tawny Godin became Miss America 1976. She was majoring in linguistics at Skidmore College and was fluent in Spanish, and conversant in German, Latin, Greek and Russian.
Tawny Godin, Miss America 1976
Tawny Godin
Miss America 1976
Deborah Lipford, Miss Delaware became the first African-American to make the top ten semi-finalists. The Miss America troupe sponsored by the USO and the Department of Defense traveled to the Mediterranean area on land and aboard aircraft carriers. Minnesota's Dorothy Benham won the 1977 Miss America title.
Dorothy Benham, Miss America 1977
Dorothy Benham
Miss America 1977
Singing a Billie Holiday standard, Susan Perkins (Miss Ohio) a speechwriter for the Ohio State Republican Caucus won the title for 1978.
Susan Perkins, Miss America 1978
Susan Perkins
Miss America 1978
The 15th Miss America USO troupe performed at US bases in Italy, Crete, Turkey and Greece. Virginia's first Miss America was crowned when Kylene Barker became Miss America 1979 wearing fashions she made herself. The Miss America telecast celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary.
Kylene Barker, Miss America 1979
Kylene Barker
Miss America 1979
Scholarships available at the local, state and national levels totaled $2 million dollars annually. Crowned by 1979's Kylene Barker, Miss Mississippi Cheryl Prewitt was awarded the 1980 Miss America title. Eleven years prior to victory, after a near fatal car accident, Cheryl was told she'd never walk again. Her story made national headlines. Bert Parks celebrated his twenty-fifth anniversary as pageant emcee. It would be his last appearance at the pageant until September 1990.

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