In this Sept. 8, 1945 photo, Bess Myerson, of New York, holds the scepter after being crowned Miss America 1945 at the annual Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, N.J. Myerson, the first Jewish Miss America who parlayed her stunning 1945 victory into national celebrity, died Dec. 14, 2014, at her home in Santa Monica, Calif. She was 90. (AP Photo, File)
Bess Myerson passed away several weeks ago. Her death was only announced in early January.
Bess was the first Jewish Miss America.
My parents told me that when Bess—they always called her Bess, as if old friends—became Miss America, there was a deep sense of pride among American Jews, a feeling that we were, at last, accepted by Christian America.
Indeed, with World War II just ended, and with details of The Holocaust emerging, the crowning of a Jewish woman as Miss America was a significant event for many American Jews.