When Miss America 2014 is crowned in Atlantic City on Sept. 15, she will not be serenaded by the iconic song that has been part of almost every pageant since 1955.
The song “Miss America,” best known by its opening line “There she is, Miss America,” is no longer included in the pageant, Miss America Organization Vice President Sharon Pearce confirmed. She said in an email that no decision has been made on the final musical selection.
The omission appears to stem from a lawsuit filed by the deceased songwriter Bernie Wayne’s wife, Phyllis, in April 2012. She accused the pageant of using the song without the proper license in both 2011 and 2012.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in California, was dismissed following a settlement in December 2012. Wayne’s attorney, Jonathan Sokol, said by phone that the terms of the settlement are confidential. Court documents state only that both parties agreed the case be dismissed.
The song was not played at the 2013 pageant in January, and was replaced by instrumental music.
This is not the first time the Waynes and the pageant organization have been at odds. The song was not used for three years in the early 1980s following a contract dispute, but it was brought back by popular demand in 1985. Other songs written for the pageant include “Look at Her,” “She’s Our Miss America” and “Miss America You’re Beautiful.”
In a 1990 interview in The Press of Atlantic City, Wayne said he wrote the song around 1955 while sitting in a New York City barber’s chair. He played the song for the pageant’s master of ceremonies at the time, who rejected it. But he later played it at a party attended by H. Pierson Mapes, the president of Philco, which sponsored the pageant.
Mapes liked the song and it was used in a Philco Television Playhouse movie, “The Miss America Story,” in 1955 starring then Miss America Lee Meriwether. Host Bert Parks sang the song at the televised pageant that year and it became a tradition.
Born in Paterson in 1919, Wayne died in 1993 in California. His wife is the trustee of the Bernie Wayne Family Trust, the owner of the copyright of the song. Wayne also wrote the song “Blue Velvet” and other songs for television shows, movies and commercials, including the “heavenly coffee” jingle for Chock Full O’ Nuts coffee.
In her 2012 complaint against the Miss America Organization, Wayne claimed the performance of the song is “widely known by Americans as the most famous part of the annual Miss America Pageant television show,” a claim the pageant’s attorneys disputed.
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