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Established in 1921 by local Atlantic City businessmen as a way to extend the summer season, The Miss America Organization has since grown to become one of the most recognizable household names in America.
The event had become so big, results of the prize-winners were later aired nationwide via radio.
Although never before seen as a problem, concern arose over the fact that a leading contender for the “Miss” America title was a married woman.
Sixteen year-old Margaret Gorman, “Miss Washington, D.
C.” (and a Mary Pickford look-a-like) would eventually win the Watkins Trophy in this event.
Lesser awards to finalists include swimwear and trophies by designer Annette Kellerman, a woman widely known for her scandalous 1907 arrest for indecent exposure.
While trying to popularize wearing a one-piece swimsuit with tights instead of the standard bloomers, Annette’s involvement raised many eyebrows. C.” for 1922 already selected, Margaret Gorman received a new title, “Miss America”.The first pageant winner reflected these changes in attitude towards beauty. She also bore a striking resemblance to silent screen star Mary Pickford, who was just achieving fame as ‘America’s Sweetheart’.Samuel Gompers, head of the American Federation of Labor, noted in the New York Times, “She (Margaret Gorman) represents the type of womanhood America needs; strong, red-blooded, able to shoulder the responsibilities of home-making and motherhood.She would also win a trophy for her appeance in the Boardwalk Parade noting her popularity with the crowds of parade-goers.The next day, based on the popularity of the visiting Inter-City Beauties, they were also entered into the Bather’s Revue.By 1921, East Coast newspapers were looking for ways to increase their circulation.