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.  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 is the opinion of the researcher and is based on his research of numerous newspaper articles and his firsthand knowledge of 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 happened to the Miss America Organization and to the country from 1921 through 1933.
  • The Miss America 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 Miss America Pageant had a successful run bringing in revenue to Atlantic City, New Jersey.
  • In 1928 the pageant was discontinued due to criticism from local Atlantic City 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 Miss America Pageant is brought back 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 held their own pageants promoting local events which had no connection with the Miss America Organization.  These local pageants grew with the demise of the Miss America Pageant and, during the Great Depression, cities focused on their local communities.

Many newspaper advertisements on the upcoming 1933 Miss America Pageant were published from June 1933 to late July 1933.  Atlantic City may have realized this late advertisement push would adversely effect the participation of the revived Miss America Pageant.

To increase participation, Atlantic City may have had no other option than to start finding individuals and assign them a state title.  This seems to have been done by hiring promoters.  Unfortunately these promoters didn't pay close attention to the requirements of competing and some of the ladies they crowned were disqualified.

A nation-wide Whistle Stop Tour was created to promote the upcoming Miss America Pageant.  The promoter-crowned beauty queens together with some official city-crowned queens toured the U.S. on their way to the Miss America Pageant.
Instant Queens
Some states with an established selection process 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.

Very few 1933 newspapers contained articles on a state-wide pageant to select their representative for the 1933 Miss America Pageant.

The Miss Texas title was given to Billie Elwood by a promotional director who also bestowed 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 Miss America 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" which would make her title not genuine.  She was misinformed about a Texas competition.  Another state competition did occur roughly the same time but it was not associated with Miss America.
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 in their designated states and Miss Arkansas was disqualified for being married.  These issues would have disqualified them long before reaching the Miss America 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 like 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 publish their state representative before the Miss America Pageant occurred.  Yet the first time many of the titleholders name's were published was during the Miss America Pageant.

Thousands of online newspaper archives across the country were searched and the following are the names/titles and the date of the earliest publication.
  • 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)
Billie Elwood - Misinformed
It's highly unlikely the promotional director randomly chose Billie as "Miss Texas."  She was most likely bestowed the title of "Miss Texas" because she held the "Miss San Antonio" title in 1932 in another pageant where she 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.

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.