It Would Have Been Fun...
But Miss Radcliffe Contest Ends After Nine Consecutive Years
"I think it would have been lots of fun to have had a Miss Radcliffe contest this year," Nancy M. Homer '60 commented the other day.
"I can't see anything harmful in it," added another Moors Hall Freshman.
But the opinions of these and other girls will make no difference. The Miss Radcliffe contest, an annual CRIMSON-sponsored event, will be no more. 'Cliffe President Wilbur K. Jordan officially killed it this summer, acting on the recommendation of the Radcliffe Student Government Association and the Board of Deans. Annex freshman are now forbidden to enter the traditional contest. The reason: "It was incompatible with other college policy to have one girl represent the entire College, which is what had come to be expected of the Miss Radcliffe Contest."
Neither Nancy Homer nor any of her classmates will have to worry about losing her "individuality." For the nine previous winners, however, President Jordan's ruling will make no difference. If, indeed, they were typical Annex girls--and many think they weren't--those nine classes must have enjoyed fascinating careers at Radcliffe.
Beginning their search for the Radcliffe freshmen of their dreams in 1947, beauty-conscious Crimeds discovered that Idaho grows more than potatoes.
A Crimson Discovery
Among the punch cups, cookies, and hordes of eager Harvard freshmen at a series of orientation tea-dances in Phillips Brooks House, the CRIMSON found Helen Clark '51, the daughter of a former U.S. Senator from Idaho. She was named "Freshman of the Year."
The title of "Miss Radcliffe" was first given to Rachel Mellinger '52 the following year. Again the "prettiest annex freshman" from a class of 239 was chosen at the PBH tea dance.
Announced as the youngest Miss Radcliffe was Priscilla High of Darien, Conn., who won the title for the class of 1953. She was 17 at the time of her election.
In 1950 the contest grew considerably in complexity and publicity. From 14 candidates, the CRIMSON picked Miss Radcliffe of 1954, Lois L. Ebeling.
Miss Ebeling--whose middle name was Love--measured 5 feet, 8 1-2 inches, weighed 132 pounds, and wore a size 14. She had a twinge of a southern accent, the result of spending the early years of World War II in Texas with her family.
Her title reportedly won the Philadelphia miss an opporunity for local modeling as well as a "guarantee of endless fall phone calls." Admittedly nervous in the preliminaries, Miss 'Cliffe of '54 was even more nervous after the election, mumuring, "I can't believe it."
"Flowers from the University Florest, a meal ticket from the University Luncheonette, a Harvard scarf from J. August, stationary from Bob Slate's a book from the Harvard Book Store, a record from Briggs and Briggs, tickets from the Brattle Theater, perfume from the Coop, and cigarettes from Philip Morris Company" were the gifts accompanying the title of Miss Cliffe of '55.
Dean Watson Refuses
The jackpot winner was Linda Bartlett of California. Miss Bartlett may have been wanted by the Crimeds for their title, but when she was asked to appear a week later at a pre-Army game rally, Associate Dean Watson refused to give his permission.
Head cheerleader David Cabot '53 said Watson told him, "We may favor joint classes with Radcliffe, but we'll keep them out of our athletic events forever." Linda's only comment was, "Well, if they don't want me..." The rally went on anyhow.
Because only one instead of the previous three tea dances was to be held in 1952, the CRIMSON decided to hold the Miss Radcliffe competition in public for the first time. The finals were held on Sept. 27 during the intermission of the Leverett House Springfield football dance.
Miss Radcliffe of 1956, Dickie Lee Herbert, was picked a panel of faculty and administration members members aided by fashion experts from Boston and Cambridge women's stores. This was the first time Miss 'Cliffe was not picked by a board of CRIMSON editors at the acquaintance dances.
Again Miss 'Cliffe and the other finalists received gifts--including a finalists received gifts--including a free subscription to the CRIMSON and opportunities for modeling.
Miss Radcliffe of '57 was chosen from 7 finalists after two hours of closely-closeted conferences between Myra Hansen, Miss United States, and seven editors. Commenting on Radcliffe semi-finalists, Miss Hansen stated "I've never seen so many beautiful college girls together at one time, and almost every one of them was wholesome." Henceforth a new requirement--"wholesomeness"--was added to the contest, previously based solely on "face and figure."
Because Miss Universe contest--could not be present for the final judging, she left a sealed ballot with her vote to be opened at the finals at the Leverett House Dance after the Ohio football game. Her vote proved the deciding one as tall, brunette Carol Corby of New York City won by one vote over blonde Deirdre Hubbard.
Helping Miss U.S. and two Crimeds with the final decision were Dr. Edwin Hunt, university anthropologist, Carroll f. Miles, Dunster House senior tutor, Leigh Hoadley, master of Leverett House, and Dr. Lynn Loomis of the math department.
No Ibis Found
Contrary to recurrent rumors that year, Miss Radcliffe did not receive the Ibis among her prizes. The proper authorities asserted that the sacred bird was in the hands of people reported to have little respect for female pulchritude.
She did, however, receive a stuffed bunny from the Leverett House Committee.
In 1954 Marie Winn's pixie-like face won her the title of "Miss 'Cliffe of '58." Unruffled by her new glory, she told of Winning $1000 in a New York newspaper contest on the subject of the 18-year-old vote. Having her photograph in print was nothing new for her either. Eleven years before she had been featured in a full page picture in "Life" magazine.
Miss Winn, a Manhattanite and the daughter of a psychiatrist, came to the United States with her family from Czechoslovakia in 1940.
At the intermission of the Winthrop House dance after the UMass game last fall, Holly Carleton '59 was chosen Miss Radcliffe from a group of five finalists including Anne Baker, Elizabeth Borden, Cynthia Carmichael, and Mary Lou Severa.
Holly, whose full name is Elizabeth Holland Carleton, impressed the judges with her quiet modesty and pleasant manner. But despite her quiet manner she admitted to an interest in the outdoors, ranging through tennis, swimming, water skiing, and casual hikes.
Holly, the only Miss Radcliffe available for comment, has denied that her title subjected her to "many additional responsibilities and activities"--a charge made on the contest in this year's letter to Radcliffe freshmen from Student Government Association president Karen A. Goukassow '57. The "additional responsibilities" presumably refer to excess phone calls from date-seekers and excessive time spent in modeling for stores in the area.
In the past some Miss Radcliffes have indeed complained of the burden associated with the crown. Sharon Jacobson '57, a close fried of Miss Corby, said she understood that Carol found her title made too many demands on her time. Miss Jacobson said that Miss 'Cliffe of '57 often complained that she never knew whether young men asked her out because they liked her or whether they simply wanted to say they had dated a "Miss Radcliffe."
Miss Jacobson reports that Carol, who left Radcliffe two years ago, is now enrolled as a junior at the University of Pennsylvania after spending some time contemplating matrimony and working as a secretary for NBC in New York.
Married and in Europe
According to Miss Jacobson, Marie Winn took a "negative attitude" to the job of being Miss 'Cliffe, often refusing to answer her many calls. Marie, who became Mrs. Stuart E. Judds during the summer, is believed to be in Europe at present.
A similar idea was expressed by Gayle Belking '58, a finalist in the contest. "We enjoyed it and didn't find it interfered with out time." But she thinks that the first week of school is not the best time for such a contest.
If a freshman isn't asked to enter the contest, she may feel that she is getting off to a bad start in social life, Miss Belkin says. At another time of year it would be fine.
Miss Belkin denies that finalists are disappointed at not being the "one." "As finalists, but not winners,"she says, "we had all the good effects--and none of the bad. We received very few strange calls."
Nothing But Pleasure'
"I don't want to criticize the Radcliffe administration for ending the contest," remarks finalist Edith A. Grossman '57, "but the contest brought me nothing but pleasure. And I wouldn't have considered winning it a hardship."
"I didn't feel any harm from the contest itself," Anne Baker '59 says. "But the pressure from the faculty and upperclassmen made some of us feel doubtful about entering."
This sentiment was expressed by several of the candidates from last year. Most dormitory presidents in fact advised freshmen against entering the contest. "In light of the bad feeling toward the contest, it could not possibly be continued successfully," Miss Baker feels.
Dean Didn't Like It
"Nobody tried to talk us out of entering," reported Margot Dannes '57, a finalist in 1953. "But one of the deans did say to me, 'I'm surprised to see you in this.' I don't think it entailed any trouble and it was a lot of fun," she says.
It has been falsely rumored this fall that no Miss Radcliffe has ever been graduated from the College. The first four Miss'Cliffes did receive their degrees, and all four are now married. Helen Clark, the first winner, was selected class night chairman for her commencement week. According to the Radcliffe Yearbook of '52, "commencement posts are honorary, based upon election of the five members who have contributed the most top the College during their four years."
Phi Beta Kappa Finalist
At least one finalist in the Miss 'Cliffe contest was a Phi Beta Kappa. Betsy C. Ross '55 received this scholastic honor, as well as the honor of being a member of the executive board of the Student Government Association.
In actual fact, then, the nine Miss Radcliffes picked by the CRIMSON represent quite a diversified group. And in this sense, taken together, maybe they are typical of Radcliffe. But it will be impossible to do any further studies on this point. The contest is dead. There will be no more Miss Radcliffes. Only memories.