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Bess Myerson, First Jewish Miss America, Dies at 90

  • VOA News

FILE - Miss America Bess Myerson, center, poses at the annual beauty pageant held at Atlantic City, New Jersey, Sept. 8, 1945.

FILE - Miss America Bess Myerson, center, poses at the annual beauty pageant held at Atlantic City, New Jersey, Sept. 8, 1945.

Bess Myerson, the first and so far only Jewish Miss America, whose personal life was filled with stormy marriages and political scandal, has died at age 90.

The Los Angeles coroner's office says Myerson died last month, but her death was not made public until Monday.

The New York-born Myerson won the Miss America beauty crown weeks after World War II ended in 1945, when details of Nazi crimes against Jews were starting to emerge. She became a source of pride for American Jews as she spoke out against anti-Semitism and racism.

Myerson was a popular television personality in the 1950s and 60s, appearing chiefly on commercials and game shows.

She became New York City consumer affairs chief in 1969, pushing through consumer protection laws that are now in force nationally. She also ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate.

But Myerson's political career and reputation for integrity collapsed in the 1980s with separate scandals involving shoplifting, divorce and allegations of bribery, mail fraud and obstruction of justice.

Myerson eventually was cleared of the corruption charges and quietly lived out the rest of her life in Los Angeles.

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