Bess Myerson was the first college graduate to serve as Miss America in 1945. She was also the first Jewish woman to win the crown. - Press of Atlantic City: Miss America Atlantic City

Bess Myerson was the first college graduate to serve as Miss America in 1945. She was also the first Jewish woman to win the crown.

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Posted: Friday, April 26, 2013 9:53 am

 In 1945 Bess Myerson became the first Jewish Miss America and the first winner from New York. That year the pageant awarded a $5,000 grant to the winner. Pageant officials had urged Myerson to change her name to Beth Merrick, a suggestion the contestant refused to consider.

  The swim suit provided to Myerson proved too tight. Rather than wear the ugly suit pageant officials provided as a backup, Myerson had her sister Sylvia sleep in the original suit to stretch it out. When that wasn't enough, Sylvia altered the suit to improve the fit. The tailoring worked, but Sylvia had to sew Myerson into the bathing suit. That meant Myerson had to wear the suit under her evening gown and talent costume during the final night of competition. While undoubtedly uncomfortable, the plan did the trick. She wowed the judges with her renditions of "Summertime" on the flute and Grieg's Piano Concerto in A minor during the talent competition. Myerson was crowned Miss America.

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