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1937

Bette Cooper
Bertrand Island, New Jersey

Bette started pageant competition by accident on the dare of some friends. The title she won, Miss Bertrand Island, was a preliminary to the Miss America Pageant only in 1937. She entered at an amusement park. An outstanding and dedicated student, Bette's parents were not completely in favor of a 'beauty competition'. The decision to go was finally based on the idea that, if nothing else, a trip to Atlantic City would be a nice family vacation. Her victory has gone down in history as comedy and fun, but at the time, Pageant officials couldn't find their collective sense of humor. Bette, having second thoughts about her commitment, took off with her Pageant male chaperone, Frank Off, in a motor boat. The two floated around Atlantic City until the boardwalk crowds dispersed. No other contestant was crowned Miss America in her absence, though several participants from that year have made claim to the title throughout the decades. Bette lives a quiet life in Connecticut. A soft-spoken person of polite cordiality, Bette still refuses to talk to reporters, the Pageant staff and others about her involvement.

Bette Cooper, Miss America 1937

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