20 Fascinating Things You Didn't Know About the History Of The Miss America Pageant

Mary Katherine Campbell won Miss America twice. Credit: PressOfAtlanticCity

13. Mary Campbell Won The Contest Twice

Mary Campbell may have been the last Miss America competitor who was truly judged mostly for her personality and personal achievements. In close-up photographs of her face, she is a cute girl, but she is so far off from the perfect Barbie Doll look that competitors are expected to go for today. Born in Columbus, Ohio, Campbell grew up thinking that she wasn’t even “pretty”. Apparently, the judges were looking for a girl who they felt was the embodiment of an “American Girl”.

In both 1922 and 1923, Mary Campbell won Miss America, because people truly did love her that much. One of the judges, Joseph Cummings Chase, said,  “Miss Campbell is possessed of great vivacity and an inherent shyness that constitute a wonderful combination. She is typically American and altogether an ideal type. Her forebearers for ten generations have been American born.”

She did, however, have a perfect hourglass figure, which was the main physical feature the crowd could see when sitting far away. As a naive 17 year old girl, she didn’t even know what that meant. When she asked her mother what the people were talking about in the newspapers when they wrote about her “figure”, her mother quickly replied that it was “none of her business”.

The pageant realized that it was not fair to allow contestants to win more than once. They made a new rule that the previous year’s winner would crown the new winner. The rest of Mary Campbell’s life was rather uneventful, and she spent the rest of her life living up to that idea of a perfect American woman by catering to others. She had to take care of her sick mother, and after she got married, she was taking care of a sick husband.