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Yolande Betbeze Fox, the Sassy Miss America Who Spoke Her Mind, Dies at 87

Image: Yolande Betbeze Fox, the Sassy Miss America Who Spoke Her Mind, Dies at 87
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By    |   Friday, 26 Feb 2016 02:55 PM

Yolande Betbeze Fox, Miss America of 1951 who had a penchant for rebelling, died Monday in Washington. She was 87.

Born in Alabama, Fox was thought of as rebellious for refusing to pose for swimsuit photos, publicly speaking out against the pageant’s exclusion of minorities, and picketing for civil rights, The Washington Post reported.

Her daughter said the cause of death was lung cancer, according to the newspaper.

Known for saying “I’m a Southern girl, but I’m a thinking girl,” Fox even considered running for Congress in 1966.

She was educated in a convent, attended Spring Hill College, a Jesuit school in Mobile, Alabama, and studied philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York.

Fox was an amateur opera singer, which led to a music critic to encouraging her to enter the Miss Alabama contest, The Post said.

She worked as an off-Broadway producer, was a Democratic Party fundraiser, and volunteered with the NAACP, the Congress of Racial Equality, and the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy.

Fox married entertainment executive Matthew M. Fox in 1954. He died in 1964. She later moved to a Georgetown mansion formerly owned by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

The New York Times credited Fox with the rise of the rival Miss USA contest after she, as Miss America, refused to model swimsuits, saying: “I’m an opera singer, not a pinup!” The move angered swimsuit manufacturer and pageant sponsor Catalina, which pulled its sponsorship and launched its own Miss USA pageant.

“Her actions gained foreign press attention, enhancing American interest, and did much for the future of Miss America,” according to the pageant website, which describes Fox as “always courageous,” “sometimes controversial,” and “ahead of her time.” “Today, Yolande feels her actions have been pivotal in directing pageant progress towards recognizing intellect, values and leadership abilities, rather than focusing on beauty alone."

Twitter users shared their condolences.










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Yolande Betbeze Fox, Miss America of 1951 who had a penchant for rebelling, died Monday in Washington. She was 87.
yolande betbeze fox, dies, miss america
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2016-55-26
Friday, 26 Feb 2016 02:55 PM
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