Official Preliminary to Miss Texas and Miss America Scholarship Competitions

Miss San Antonio America 1933, Billie Elwood
Local Pageant Information:

None

Miss San Antonio Summary:

The Miss America 1933 pageant year was filled with controversy which included Billie Elwood.

There is no evidence that Billie Elwood held the title of Miss San Antonio 1933, however, she was photographed as "Miss Texas" in 1933 and since she was listed as being from San Antonio it is assumed that she was Miss San Antonio in 1933.

Billie Elwood did not participate in the 1933 Miss America Pageant.  Her decision to leave the national competition presumably to maintain the integrity of the Miss America system earned her the official title of Miss San Antonio 1933 and she was celebrated as a former titleholder during a Miss San Antonio pageant in the 1990's.

Billie Elwood (Mrs. Weinbrenner) later joined the U.S. Army in 1956 and retired a Major after 20 years of service in the WAC (Women's Army Corps).

Click for Controversy Details:
Disclaimer
Some of the following content is the opinion of the researcher and is based on his research of numerous newspaper articles across the county and his firsthand knowledge on the time and commitment required to ready an individual to compete for a state title.  It is not necessarily the opinion of past, present or future Miss San Antonio directors or board members.
Overview of Miss America Since 1933
Consider what has happened in the Miss America Organization and the country from 1921 through 1933.
  • The Atlantic City pageant was created in 1921 to encourage tourists to extend their Labor Day holiday weekend and enjoy the festivities in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
  • From 1921 to 1927 the Atlantic City pageant has a successful run bringing in revenue to Atlantic City, New Jersey.
  • In 1928 the pageant was discontinued due to criticism from local religious and women’s groups.
  • In 1929 the Great Depression hits sending the country and the world into financial chaos.
  • Each year from 1929 to 1932 a national pageant was held in different states falsely claiming it crowned Miss America.  They had no connection with the Miss America Organization.
  • 1933 is the worst year of the Great Depression for the United States.
  • In 1933 the Atlantic City Pageant resumes but fails the following year claiming financial difficulties due to the Great Depression.
Resuming the Miss America Pageant
Across the nation from 1928 though 1933, many cities and states had been holding their own state-wide pageants promoting state-sponsored events.  These pageants had grown with the demise of the Atlantic City pageant and the Great Depression caused many to focus on their local communities.

Many newspaper advertisements on the upcoming 1933 Atlantic City pageant were published in June 1933, however some cities first published the information as late as July 27, 1933.  It is possible Atlantic City may have seen this as a problem which would adversely effect the participation of the revived Atlantic City Pageant.

This researcher's opinion is they had no other option than to start finding individuals and assign them a state title.  Atlantic City would have hired promoters to accomplish this in the short time they had before the national competition.  Unfortunately these promoters didn't pay close attention to the requirements of competing and some of the individuals they crowned were disqualified.

A nation-wide Whistle Stop Tour was created to promote the upcoming pageant.  The promoter-crowned beauty queens along with some queens who won their titles toured the U.S. on their way to the nation pageant.
Instant Queens
Some states had a relatively established selection process and quickly found their state representative including: Kansas on July 10, Missouri on July 18, Iowa on July 19, New Mexico on July 25, and West Virginia on July 29.  However, in 1933 many states lacked this selection process.

Unlike previous years, 1933 newspaper articles on a state-wide pageant to select a representative for the 1933 Atlantic City Pageant were very few.

The Miss Texas title was given to Billie Elwood by a promotional director who also bestowed 1933 state titles on other individuals including Miss Illinois.

A photograph of "Miss Texas" alongside "Miss Oklahoma", "Miss Kansas" and "Miss Missouri" christening a train car en route to Atlantic City to participate in the Atlantic City Pageant was found.  However there was no Texas pageant.

A 1936 exposé states that "Miss Texas" returned home before reaching Atlantic City because she heard that Texas was currently holding the official competition for "Miss Texas" making her title was not genuine.  She was likely misinformed about another non-related state competition which was occurring roughly the same time.
Missing State Records
Research has found few public records of titleholders winning their state titles in 1933.  Miss Idaho, Miss Illinois, and Miss Iowa were disqualified for not residing their designated states and Miss Arkansas was disqualified for being married.  Both of these issues would have disqualified them long before reaching the national competition.  Miss Oklahoma quit the competition for medical reasons.

During the nation-wide tour of beauty queens the titleholder's names were conveniently omitted from any newspaper articles and advertisements except for those who officially won their state title as in Miss West Virginia, Mildred Fetty.

It's possible other 1933 titleholders were assigned their titles by a promotional director but were allowed to compete because there was no proof of wrongdoing.

Cities and states would normally proudly announce their state representative before the Atlantic City Pageant occurred.  Yet the first time many of the titleholders name's were published was during the national pageant.

Thousands of online newspaper archives across the country were searched and the following are the names/titles and the date of their earliest publication of them winning their state title.
  • Miss Arkansas, Vivian Ferguson (published at Miss America - Disqualified)
  • Miss California, Blanche McDonald (published at Miss America)
  • Miss Connecticut, Marion Bergeron (published at Miss America)
  • Miss Delaware, Victoria George (no articles found)
  • Miss District of Columbia, Rita Burns (published August 4, 1933)
  • Miss Idaho, Margaret Whitman (published at Miss America - Disqualified)
  • Miss Illinois, Lillian Kroner (published August 1, 1933 - Disqualified)
  • Miss Iowa, Eleanor Alma Dankenbring (published July 19, 1933 - Disqualified)
  • Miss Kansas, Pauline Sayre (published July 10, 1933)
  • Miss Kentucky, Lucille Rader (published June 3, 1933 - Unrelated Title Win)
  • Miss Louisiana, Marjorie Hagler (published August 18, 1933)
  • Miss Maine, Iva Stewart (no articles found)
  • Miss Maryland, Dorothy Dennis (no articles found)
  • Miss Massachusetts, Elsie Taylor (no articles found)
  • Miss Michigan, Barbara Strand (published August 31, 1933)
  • Miss Mississippi, Dorothy Eley (published August 12, 1933)
  • Miss Missouri, Marie Marks (published July 18, 1933)
  • Miss New Hampshire, Leita Laugley (no articles found)
  • Miss New Jersey, Gertrude Christman (no articles found)
  • Miss New Jersey, Ruth LeRoy (published August 26, 1933)
  • Miss New Mexico, Julia Valdez (published July 26, 1933)
  • Miss New York, Florence Meyers (published September 1, 1933)
  • Miss New York, Elsie Donath (no articles found)
  • Miss North Carolina, Leola Councilman (published July 22, 1933)
  • Miss Ohio, Corinne Porter (published August 12, 1933)
  • Miss Oklahoma, Joanna Alcorne (published July 16, 1933 - Quit for medical reasons)
  • Miss Pennsylvania, Geraldine Glassman (published August 26, 1933)
  • Miss Texas, Billie Elwood (Published August 1, 1033 - Quit during Whistle Tour)
  • Miss Vermont, Unknown (no articles found)
  • Miss Virginia, Evangeline Glidwell (published at Miss America)
  • Miss Washington, Gladine L Sweetser (published August 10, 1933)
  • Miss West Virginia, Mildred Fetty (published August 1, 1933)
  • Miss Wisconsin, Marie Marguerite Huebner (published August 19, 1933)
It's highly unlikely the promotional director randomly chose Billie as "Miss Texas."  We are assuming she was chosen "Miss Texas" because of her qualifications as "Miss San Antonio" in 1932 and went on to win the state title of "Miss Personality."

During their annual convention, the Retail Grocers Association held a beauty pageant in the Aztec Theater on May 18-19, 1933 in San Antonio to crown "Miss San Antonio."  She would compete for "Miss Texas" at the Municipal Auditorium on May 22, 1933 which was also located in San Antonio.  It was announced that the national winner would move on to the national competition in Atlantic City, N.J. on June 26, 1933.  This was not the Miss America Pageant.

Billie Elwood may have been confused by the Retail Grocers "Miss Texas" competition but in the end her departure from the competition for moral reasons was proper unlike others who were in the same situation. Four individuals who were also given a state title from the promotional director were disqualified in the competition for not living the the state they represented or for being married.
Miss America Summary:

Miss Connecticut 1933, Marian Bergeron, was crowned Miss America 1933 during the 8th Miss America Pageant (Inter-City Beauty Contest) held at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey on September 9, 1933.

At 15 years old, Marian Bergeron, was the youngest to be crowned Miss America.

New Pageant Rule For 1933

Future contestants must be between the ages of 18 to 26.

Timeline: