Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Non-Traditional Talents in Top 10

Did you ever see Miss So-and-So's talent? Has anyone else ever done that?

Most Miss America talents fall into the traditional categories of vocal, dance, instrumental, drama/speech, and variety acts such as baton, ventriloquism, or gymnastics.

Here are eleven Miss America Contestants whose talents don't quite fit the traditional categories and, as far as I know, have only been performed at Miss America only one time (by these women):

Lauren Cheape
Miss Hawaii 2011
Prelim Talent and Non-Finalist Talent awards
Photo from

Including ribbon, ball, and hoop
Christy Neuman
Miss Florida 1997
Top 10 & Prelim Talent

Tammy Kettunen
Miss Arizona 1989
Non-Finalist Talent award

Including strength moves, stomping on broken glass, and breaking cement slabs
Alicia Rae Masalkowski
Miss Michigan 1985
Top 10

There's a Miss America "urban legend" that the red on the glass was blood from her foot.
It was probably a reflection from a red/pink lighting gel or coloring to make the glass stand out on television.
Whatever it was, it sure makes a great story, right?

This was fairly controversial back in 1978!
You can find her talent performance on YouTube
Sher Lynn Patrick
Miss Ohio 1978
3rd Runner-up

Maggie Walker
Miss Pennsylvania 1970
4th Runner-up

Judith Ford
Miss Illinois 1968
MISS AMERICA 1969 & Prelim Talent & Prelim Swimsuit

Mary Haglund
Miss Indiana 1967
Top 10 & Prelim Talent
*Special note: Jill Rankin, Miss South Carolina 1981, was also a figure skater.

Combined with singing

Jane Jayroe
Miss Oklahoma 1966
MISS AMERICA 1967 & Prelim Talent

Sure, we've had plenty of monologues and speeches over the years, but, come on, Debbie Bryant had an entire set when she performed The Miserable Miserliness of Midas Moneybags!

Deborah Bryant
Miss Kansas 1965
MISS AMERICA 1966 & Prelim Swimsuit

Nancy Fleming
Miss Michigan 1960
MISS AMERICA 1961 & Prelim Talent & Swimsuit

And as an added bonus:

Sonna Warvell
3rd Runner Up & Prelim Talent at Miss Texas 1985
4th Runner-up & Prelim Talent at Miss Texas 1983

And, YES, we've all heard about the Miss America contestant whose talent was giving a speech on ... "How To Pack A Suitcase," but if you haven't read Frank Deford's There She Is, The Life and Times of Miss America, you probably haven't heard this story:

"Now this one time," a lovely lady judge from the South admits, "I won't tell you where, because I think they're still looking for me, I came into this little town and as soon as I got there, I knew there was trouble because the Jaycees already had their winner picked out.  We judges were merely there to confirm it, you see."

"They were already discussing how she'd do at State.  I said, 'Well, what does this little angel do for her talent?' And now, if you can believe this, they told me that she fly casted.  I said, 'Do you mean to tell me ... fish?' They said yes indeed, she fly casted, and Lord, they said, if she ever got to Atlantic City fly casting on that huge stage where she didn't have to concern herself with hooking anything--that alone was enough for me. And let me tell you honestly, she was the prettiest girl there, she was darlin' in swimsuit, she was easily the smartest, and to tell you the truth she fascinated me to death flickin' that big ole pole around once I was assured that there was no hook on it."

"But I don't mind telling' you that if it's the Virgin Mary herself that I'm judging', if she is a fly caster honey, I just can't bring myself to vote for her in any Miss America Pageant.  Luckily, I found a couple of the other judges felt as I did, and we stuck together and voted for a little singer, bless her heart, and gave the fly caster, poor thing, first runner-up. Well there was such a hue and cry after that that the Jaycees said we judges had better not go to the after-party.  In fact, they took us out to some deserted railroad station and held us there for a few hours till the heat was off.  They told us, honest to goodness, that the fly caster's father and his friends were irate.  But I just can't vote for any fly caster.  I'm sorry, but I just can't, lovely as she was."

Although it's out of print, this book, published by Viking in 1971 after the 50th Anniversary competition, can be found on Amazon and eBay.  Buy yourself a copy.  It's a great book.  I own several copies, although I've never found a copy of the revised version he published in the later 1970's with updated information.  Frank Deford judged Miss America several times in the mid-1970's.

What other non-traditional, unusual talents have been performed at the local, state, or national level?  Comment on Facebook at CROWNED or email me at

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