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Timeline: Miss America

1848 - 1900 | 1901 - 1950 | 1951 - 2001

Timeline key: Tiara - Miss America History, Female Symbol - Women's History

1952

 

Dwight Eisenhower is elected president.

  Miss America entry

Catalina inaugurates the Miss Universe and Miss USA Pageants, two years after withdrawing support for the Miss America Pageant.

1953

 

June 2: Queen Elizabeth II is crowned in England.

  Miss America entry

ABC approaches the pageant about televising the event. Fearful of losing the Atlantic City audience to TV, pageant officials say no. Movie star Eddie Fisher hosts the pageant.

   

September: Alfred Kinsey's report, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, challenges many myths about sexual behavior in American society.

   

December: Playboy, a men's magazine featuring photographs of nude women, publishes its inaugural issue, featuring Marilyn Monroe on the cover.

1954

 

May 17: The "separate but equal" doctrine established by Plessy v. Fergusson in 1892 is overruled in Brown v. Board of Education. The Supreme Court unanimously rules that segregation in schools is unconstitutional.

  Miss America entry

Miss America on television Philco Television Sets purchases 1954 television broadcast rights to the pageant for $10,000 and contracts with ABC for the broadcast.

  Miss America entry

September 11: Twenty-seven million people tune in to see Lee Ann Meriwether crowned Miss America. Grace Kelly is a judge and Bess Myerson reports from backstage. The scholarship award is $10,000.

1955

Miss America entry

Bert Parks Bert Parks is hired as the pageant's emcee. He introduces a theme song, There She Is , written by Bernie Wayne.

1959

Miss America entry

Every state in the nation is at last represented at the pageant.

1960s

Women's History entry

Women protesting in Washington Women are major participants in the civil rights and anti-war movements.

1961

Women's History entry

The President's Commission on the Status of Women is established, chaired by former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The commission will take two years to publish its Peterson Report, documenting workplace discrimination against women and making recommendations for child care, maternity leave, and equal opportunity for working women.

1963

Women's History entry

Betty Freidan publishes The Feminine Mystique, reflecting a groundswell of dissatisfaction with women's social status, and it is a best seller. Gloria Steinem's magazine article, "I Was a Playboy Bunny," details the author's undercover investigation of the New York Playboy Club.

   

Martin Luther King Jr. August 28: Martin Luther King leads a March on Washington to urge support for pending civil rights legislation. He delivers his famous "I have a dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

   

November 22: President John F. Kennedy is assassinated.

1964

Women's History entry

The 1964 Civil Rights Act includes a key provision for women. Title VII outlaws discrimination in public accommodations or employment on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin. At the last minute the word "sex" is added by a Southern congressman, thinking it will kill the entire bill. Instead, it passes.

   

The Immigration Act abolishes a quota system that had restricted immigration.

1965

 

President Johnson with American soldiers The first American troops arrive in Vietnam.

1966

Miss America entry

The Miss America Pageant is televised in color in its first year on NBC.

  Women's History entry

October: The National Organization for Women is formed.

1967

Women's History entry

The women's liberation movement begins to grow. In Berkeley, California, women gather to raise consciousness about feminist issues.

  Miss America entry

Lenora Slaughter, the pageant's director, retires.

1968

 

April 4: Martin Luther King is assassinated. Rioting occurs in 100 American cities.

   

June 6: Senator Robert Kennedy is assassinated.

   

August: Protesters disrupt the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

  Miss America entry

Miss Black America pagent September 7: Judi Ford is crowned Miss America 1969. Feminists get national media attention for their protest on the Atlantic City boardwalk, where they crown a sheep and throw products like lipstick and hair curlers into a "Freedom Trash Can." The same day, the first Miss Black America Contest is held in Atlantic City in protest of the "white" Miss America Pageant.

  Miss America entry

Pepsi Cola withdraws its 11-year sponsorship, claiming the pageant no longer represents the changing values of American society.

  Women's History entry

Shirley Chisholm is the first African American woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

1969

Miss America entry

Feminist protesters at Atlantic City Feminist protesters return to Atlantic City, claiming the pageant treats women as sex objects. Protesters will return every year well into the 1970s.

1970

 

May 4: National Guardsmen kill four students at anti-war demonstrations at Ohio's Kent State University.

  Miss America entry

Rules barring non-whites have finally changed. The first black contestant to make it to Atlantic City is Cheryl Brown, Miss Iowa.

  Miss America entry

Pam Eldred, Miss America 1970, has to be evacuated to safety while entertaining soldiers in Vietnam.

1971

Women's History entry

A prototype of Ms. Magazine is published.

1972

Women's History entry

March 22: The Equal Rights Amendment passes Congress and is sent to the states for ratification. The amendment will be defeated, after a lengthy battle, in 1982.

  Women's History entry

Title IX of the Higher Education Act bans exclusion on the basis of sex from programs or activities in universities receiving federal financial assistance, marking a turning point for women's access to athletics programs.

   

June 17: Five men are arrested for breaking into Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate apartment and office complex in Washington, D.C.

1973

Women's History entry

January 22: In Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court grants women the right to legal abortions.

   

March 29: The last American troops leave Vietnam.

  Miss America entry

Becky King Rebecca King is chosen Miss America 1974. She is the first winner to use her scholarship award for professional education, studying to become a lawyer.

1974

Women's History entry

Little League Baseball votes to allow girls on its teams.

   

President Richard Nixon August 9: President Nixon resigns.

1979

 

March 28: The nuclear power plant at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania has a meltdown at its core, in America's worst nuclear accident.

   

November 4: Militant Islamic students seize hostages at the American Embassy in Teheran, Iran. Fifty-two hostages will be detained for 444 days -- over 14 months.

1980

Miss America entry

Miss Alabama, Lencola Sullivan, is the first African American to make the pageant's top five finalists.

  Women's History entry

Only 27% of the nation's households conform to traditional ideas of a family with a male breadwinner and female housewife. Two-income families or female-headed households are rapidly replacing the older pattern.

   

President Ronald Reagan Ronald Reagan is elected president.

1981

Miss America entry

Bert Parks is fired. He is considered too old, too corny, and too sexist for the times. Talk show host Johnny Carson initiates a protest that is unsuccessful. Ron Ely and then Gary Collins replace Parks.

  Women's History entry

September 25: Sandra Day O'Connor becomes the U.S. Supreme Court's first female judge.

1983

Women's History entry

Sally Ride June 18: The first woman astronaut, Sally K. Ride, travels into space aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger.

  Miss America entry

Vanessa Williams Vanessa Williams is crowned Miss America 1984 and is the first black woman to hold the title. Two months before the end of her reign, Penthouse magazine will publish nude photos of her taken when she was 17. Pageant officials will force her to resign.

1984

Women's History entry

The Democratic Party nominates Geraldine Ferraro for the vice presidency, the first time a major party has nominated a woman.

1987

Miss America entry

Albert Marks retires as Chairman of the Board of the Miss America Organization after 27 years. The first paid CEO, Leonard Horn, is hired.

1988

Miss America entry

Miss America Kaye Lani Rae Rafko devotes her year to advocacy of care for the terminally ill, becoming the first winner to dedicate her reign to a social issue.

1989

Miss America entry

The social issue platform, where contestants commit to advocating for a cause if they become Miss America, becomes part of the pageant's requirements.

1990

 

The Berlin Wall falls, marking the end of the Cold War.

1990-1991

 

President George Bush with leader of Kuwait Persian Gulf War. The U.S. leads a multi-national coalition against Iraq after that country invades Kuwait; Iraq surrenders.

1991

Women's History entry

Anita Hill, a law professor, testifies before a U.S. Senate committee that the conservative Supreme Court nominee, Clarence Thomas, engaged in sexual harassment. Issues of race and gender are debated across the country.

1992

Miss America entry

Kim Aiken, Miss America 1993, is the fifth African American Miss America. She uses her year to promote the cause of the homeless.

1994

Miss America entry

Alabama's Heather Whitestone wins the swimsuit and talent competitions and is crowned Miss America 1995. She is deaf and becomes the first Miss America with a physical handicap.

1996

Miss America entry

Record low TV ratings prompt NBC to drop the Miss America Pageant after 30 years. ABC picks up broadcast rights.

1997

Miss America entry

The swimsuit competition is modified. Contestants can wear any style, including two piece and bikini.

1999

Miss America entry

The swimsuit rules are again modified, barring string bikinis and thong swimsuits.

2000

Miss America entry

In the year 2000, the first Asian American Miss America is crowned. Angela Perez Baraquio of Hawaii is Miss America 2001.

2001

 

September 11: Terrorists from the Middle East highjack four airplanes. Two crash into New York's World Trade Center, destroying both towers and killing thousands. One crashes into the Pentagon, also causing extensive damage and loss of life. The fourth plane crashes in a field in Pennsylvania, killing all passengers.

   

The United States commits to a war on terrorism.

  Miss America entry

September 26: Katie Harman, Miss America 2002, rings the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, along with several New York firefighters.



Timeline key: Tiara - Miss America History, Female Symbol - Women's History

1848 - 1900 | 1901 - 1950 | 1951 - 2001



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