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PNB - Miss America

Miss America 1997
Atlantic City, New Jersey

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Onstage glitter

Photo by Arlyne Q. Peters, PNB

Crowning

DBKphoto

The crown passes

PNB photo

Swimsuit

DBKphoto

Kate Shindle

DBKphoto

Stage scene

Photo by Arlyne Q. Peters, PNB

Glamourous wave

Photo by Arlyne Q. Peters, PNB

Patriotic beauty

Photo by Arlyne Q. Peters, PNB

High hat style

Photo by Arlyne Q. Peters, PNB

Boardwalk beauty

Photo by Arlyne Q. Peters, PNB

Midwestern magic

Miss Illinois, Katherine "Kate" Shindle, won the Miss America crown on Saturday night, Sept. 13, 1997. The first runner-up was Miss North Carolina, Michelle Warren, and the second runner-up was Miss Mississippi, Myra Barginear. The third runner-up was Miss Arizona, Stacey Momeyer, and the fourth runner-up was Miss California, Rebekah Keller.

It was a difficult year for the pageant. It tried to reverse years of declining TV viewership by projecting a less innocent image for its contestants, but most of America was not paying attention. The death of Princess Diana gripped the public imagination during the early days of September, the period when Miss America traditionally gets most of its free publicity.

As the curtain was set to go up on the pageant, Miss America officials were talking openly about the need for better TV ratings. This was a startling turnaround: As recently as last year, they had insisted that falling ratings were of no concern to them.

When ratings were released a few days later, the news was encouraging. "Miss America" had shown an 11 percent improvement over the previous year and was the fourth-most-watched program of the week in the United States.

Controversy

Within hours of Kate Shindle's victory as Miss America, questions were being raised publicly about her family connections. Her father, Gordon Shindle of New Jersey, has served on the board of directors of the Miss America Pageant and has a long-time connection to the event. Shindle took a leave of absence after his daughter won a local preliminary in Illinois, but critics alleged that such action was too little, too late.

Miss America CEO Leonard Horn, after initially insisting that Shindle had handled the issue correctly, blamed him for the controversy. Horn said he would work to tighten rules to prevent even the appearance of impropriety.

The uproar seemed unlikely to cost Ms. Shindle her title, and the criticism was not directed at her personally. But it was clear that the matter would not be forgotten soon.

The 10 semifinalists chosen early in the pageant were:
Arizona, Stacey Momeyer
California, Rebekah Keller
Florida, Christy Neuman
Hawaii, Erika Kauffman
Illinois, Katherine Shindle
Louisiana, Mette Boving
Mississippi, Myra Barginear
North Carolina, Michelle Warren
North Dakota, Roxana Saberi
Oregon, Tamara Ann Finch
Erika Kauffman

Island treasure

Erika Kauffman, Miss Hawaii, has plenty of friends from back home to give her encouragement.

Photo by Charles Fallis

Breaking new ground?

Lanna Keck, Miss Tennessee, won her state title as Miss Milan No-Till. No, that's not Italian. The name comes from the town of Milan (My-lan) and the "no-till" practice of farming.

Photo by Charles Fallis

Lanna Keck
Jaime Fox

'I've heard of you!'

Jaime Fox is Miss Maryland. Yes, the name sounds familiar, but she spells it differently.

Photo by Charles Fallis

Heartland contender

Stacy Freeman, Miss Arkansas, pauses with her local pageant director, Ned Metcalf. She was Miss White River. (Presumably that has nothing to do with Whitewater.)

Photo by Charles Fallis

Stacy Freeman
Myra Barginear

Pageant country

Myra Barginear of Mississippi comes from a state famous for its Miss Americas.

Photo by Charles Fallis

Eisa Krushansky

Fast on her feet

Eisa Krushansky, Miss West Virginia, joked that the best part of her talent was "getting it over with." She was dancing on a floor that felt a little slick.

Photo by Charles Fallis

Beach state sweep

Rebekah Keller, Miss California, won the swimsuit competition Thursday night, the third night of preliminaries. Previous swimsuit winners had been from Florida and Hawaii. Miss North Carolina, Michelle Warren, won the talent competition for her performance of "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going."

Tropical motions

Contestants from sunny climes won Wednesday night's preliminaries. Christy Neuman, 20, of Florida was the talent winner, doing a rhythmic gymnastics routine to the theme from the movie "Robin Hood." Erika Kauffman, 18, of Hawaii won the swimsuit category.

Early winners

Kathy Nejat, Miss New Jersey won Tuesday night's swimsuit preliminary. The Temple University senior wore a white one-piece with a high neck, sheer midriff and cutout back to lead 16 other contestants, only two of whom chose two-piece suits.

Katherine Shindle, 20, Miss Illinois, won the talent preliminary, singing "Don't Rain on My Parade" from "Funny Girl."

More PNB coverage of Miss America '97 ...

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Miss America archive
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