The One and Only Jewish Miss America

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“The One and Only Jewish Miss America” is the surprising story of Bess Myerson, the talented beauty queen from the Bronx, and how she won the world’s most famous beauty pageant 75 years ago, at the tail end of World War II. The film follows Bess, the middle daughter of poor Russian immigrants, from her childhood in a one-bedroom Jewish housing project apartment through the suspense-filled pageant. Impressed by the college-educated musician, the judges chose her in spite of anonymous threatening phone calls and sponsor disapproval of a Jewish pageant winner. On her 1945 Miss America tour, Bess faced antisemitism and closed doors at race-restricted venues which did not allow Jews. It is also a story of courage as her disappointment turned to determination, leading Bess Myerson to start her own tour to teach tolerance at high schools and colleges around the country — a tour which launched her lifelong passion for justice.

Directed by David Arond (USA)

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