On September 8, 1945, Bess Myerson became the first and only Jewish "Miss America". She enjoyed an extensive career in television on such shows as The Big Payoff and I've Got a Secret, and subsequently served as New York's ground-breaking Commissioner of Consumer Affairs and then Cultural Affairs. An ovarian cancer survivor, she sponsors several ovarian cancer support groups. She also sponsors the annual "Bess Myerson Campus Journalism Awards", an Anti-Defamation League project to encourage young journalists who promote intergroup harmony on campus.
"A human and social portrait of immediate postwar days as seen from many different angles, each as American as cheesecake. It is a story of women, of Jews, of the Miss America pageant, and of Bess Myerson herself." (The New York Times Book Review)
I did not realize that the story would be this interesting -- I thought it would be about the life of Bess Myerson and the Pageant.and, yes, it was, but it also provided a backdrop of information that was not familiar to me. I did not know (or forgot) that Miss Myerson was the first and only Jewish Miss America. Because of the attitude and sentiments, in post-war America, towards Jews, women, and the fact that there was an anti-Semitic riddled Miss America pageant, there were many setbacks experienced for naive Beth Myerson’s 'promising future” Her reign took place in 1945; I was born in 1946, but Bess Myerson was a household name for years (thus, my reason for reading the book) and I never thought as to WHY that was. I think the book is a worthwhile listen for everyone -- it is enlightening reminder of what America was like, on many levels, during that time.
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