September 1960 marked the debut of the Miss American Teen-Ager Pageant. The contest, open to girls between the ages of thirteen and seventeen, was filmed for TV at the Park's Casino restaurant, with the massive saltwater pool used as a backdrop. The finalists waited on the east side of the pool, and as their names were announced they were brought over to the Casino by paddleboat.
This contest proved popular through the years and attracted many talented contestants; by 1964, over thirty-five thousand young ladies were participating. In the later years, the winner's rewards included an all-expense-paid, round-trip flight to Hollywood; the opportunity to audition for television roles in “The Courtship of Eddie's Father,” “Nanny and the Professor,” and “General Hospital”; a new Dodge Challenger; a Florida vacation; a $1,000 wardrobe; a diamond watch; the complete twenty-four-volume set of the 1971 Encyclopedia Britannica; a pedigree poodle; an eight-track stereo, and a one-year scholarship to the New York Academy of Theatrical Arts.
One of the most prominent people in the production of these pageants was Jan LeWinter. Jan ran a dance studio, and she was selected to produce the pageants for seven years, from 1964 to 1971. She hosted Little Miss America, Miss American Teen-Ager, and The
New Talent Showcase.
Thanks to Terry and Christine for asking about the Miss American
and inspiring me to put this page together.