(Above) Marilyn Monroe poses for a publicity photo with Karol Ann Dragomir, Miss Michigan 1953 at the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, NJ.
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LAST WEEKEND I WAS VISITING MY GOOD FRIENDS BRIAN AND PAULA PALMER of Wilmette, Illinois, just north of Chicago. Brian is president of National Speakers Bureau, Inc., and Paula is a musician, teacher and mother of two wonderful kids.

Anyhoo, we got to talking about photography and Brian happened to mention that he had a photo of his mother with Marilyn Monroe. I was intrigued! He went on to tell me that his mother was Miss Michigan in 1953 and, of course, she later went to Atlantic City to compete in the Miss America Contest. His mother, the former
Karol Ann Dragomir, was just 19 and from the small town of Benton Harbor, MI when she won. It just so happened, he went on to say, that Miss Monroe was the celebrity guest for the national beauty contest.

The beautiful Monroe was there for a variety of activities including, on this particular day, photos with each contestant. The contest was then and remains to this day, carefully crafted to present a wholesome and scholarship oriented perception of each young lady. Monroe was scheduled to be there the entire week, and served as Grand Marshall of the parade.

Then Brian told me the last piece of the story that I found to be so interesting. He told me that the Miss America officials found MM’s dress and exposed bosom a bit too risqué for their standards, and by mid-week she was simply asked to leave. “Wow! Now we got something!” I thought.

I asked Brian if I could call his mother and a few days later I did. Ann was delightful to talk to. She said that Marilyn was quite aloof with each of the girls as they waited their turn to be photographed with her. MM was a famous movie star, she was “Marilyn Monroe” and she played the part well. But, she added, all the pageant girls agreed that Marilyn was absolutely beautiful.

And yes, she confirmed the story of MM getting booted off the pageant festivities and added this additional piece of information. Mrs. Palmer told me that it was the parade that actually did Marilyn in. She went on to say that as the float Monroe was on passed the throngs of street admirers, MM did what she always did—she pleased the crowd, especially the men. As she waved, she would lean forward on one elbow allowing additional glimpses of her famous cleavage. Apparently, Monroe’s unabashed demeanor was the straw that broke the prudish pageant official’s back. They asked her to leave.

As for Marilyn, I just wish I could have told her: “you GO, Girl!”