‘Miss North Carolina’ and Marilyn

In the Salisbury Post, Mark Wineka notes the passing of Barbara Harris Richmond, who was crowned Miss North Carolina in 1952 and attended the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, where she met the parade’s Grand Marshal, Marilyn Monroe. (There are several photos of Marilyn with various contestants, but as yet I haven’t seen Barbara’s. Incidentally, Salisbury was also the home-town of Marilyn’s future masseur and close friend, Ralph Roberts.)

“In June of that year, only after a lot of coaxing and having just graduated from Woman’s College in Greensboro, 22-year-old Barbara Harris entered the Jaycee-sponsored Miss Salisbury Pageant and won. She topped a field of 16 contestants.

By late July, she was competing in the Miss North Carolina Pageant in Winston-Salem. She won again, as judges selected her over 37 other contestants. All the stories to come would mention how small she was for a beauty queen — 5 feet, 2 inches tall and 115 pounds.

It also was standard for the day to give her measurements, which were 34-24-34.

A hectic month followed leading up to the Miss America competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She toured New York and went through hours of coaching and singing rehearsals for the pageant, which included the usual bathing suit, evening gown and talent categories.

During the week, Barbara had her picture taken with the parade marshal, Marilyn Monroe. It was a tossup as to who was prettier, though Monroe raised eyebrows with a dress whose neckline plunged to her waist.

The Salisbury Evening Post sent a reporter to cover all of Barbara’s pageant activities. Editors assumed readers were so familiar with her by then that headlines sometimes referred to her as ‘Babs.’

Though Barbara didn’t make the final 10 in the 1952 Miss America Pageant, she was mentioned prominently for the Grand Talent Award. She filled the Atlantic City convention hall with an aria from ‘Samson and Delilah,’ prompting a rousing ovation from the crowd of 18,000.”

Miss America: Carol Koontz and Marilyn

Marilyn with Carol Koontz, 1952
Marilyn with Carol Koontz, 1952

Carol Koontz, a baton and drum corps leader who met Marilyn (in her Grand Marshal capacity) while competing at the 1952 Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, has died in Ohio aged 83, reports CantonRep.com.

“For decades, Koontz shared her skills in baton-twirling, music, and pageantry with thousands of local youngsters in Stark and Tuscarawas counties. She started the troupe in 1962 and was still giving weekly baton lessons until about two weeks ago, her daughter Holly Flowers said.

Koontz began teaching the baton in 1948. In 1952, the Tuscarawas County native won the Miss Dennison and Miss Ohio pageants and competed in the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, N.J. During her talent portion in the national contest, Koontz played a classical piece on the clarinet, then twirled two ‘fire’ batons.

She also had her picture taken with Monroe, who was a special guest.

‘My grandma (Carol’s mother) happened to be in the restroom when Marilyn Monroe was in there, and Marilyn asked her how she kept her hair curly in humid weather,’ Flowers said with a laugh. ‘My grandmother was giving Marilyn Monroe hair tips.’

Years later, Koontz led her troupe on the famed boardwalk at a Miss America commemoration event, her daughter noted.”

Thanks to Sparkling Diamond at Marilyn Remembered

Lauren and Marilyn’s Millionaire Racket

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Over at the Silver Screenings blog today, a perceptive review of How to Marry a Millionaire – as part of the ongoing Lauren Bacall blogathon.

“We’re aware this film has been accused of being a shallow, spare-no-expense fashion show. So what? It was one of the first feature films made in CinemaScope, which was crucial in showcasing William Travilla‘s stunning wardrobe design.

How to Marry a Millionaire has a witty script, charming characters and first-rate comedic performances by Grable and Monroe. But our favourite character is the tough-talking Bacall…

Bacall is smart, skeptical and has learned how to sniff out a rat. For example, when Monroe announces her boyfriend is taking her Atlantic City on a Saturday to meet his mother, Bacall is immediately suspicious.

Bacall: ‘I think we oughta put a check on that one.’
Monroe: ‘Why? I don’t know what you mean.’
Bacall: ‘Nobody’s mother lives in Atlantic City on Saturday.'”

Mike Bell’s ‘Marilyn’ in Atlantic City

Mike Bell

‘The Art of Mike Bell’, a new exhibition featuring this monochrome painting of Marilyn as Grand Marshal at the 1952 Miss America Parade in Atlantic City, opens today and will be on display at the Noyes Art Garage, A.C. until August 28. Admission is free.

'Marilyn on the Boardwalk'
‘Marilyn on the Boardwalk’

Defiantly lowbrow, Bell’s main themes are pop culture and the ‘carnival’ atmosphere of his hometown, At the Shore reports. Another portrait of Marilyn, pencilled onto a matchbook, has been displayed by Ripley’s.

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