Speed Reads

Rest in peace

The first and only Jewish Miss America has died

Bess Myerson, the winner of 1945's Miss America pageant, has died at age 90, The New York Times reported Monday.

Myerson, who grew up in the Bronx and represented New York City in the pageant, was crowned Miss America just days after World War II ended. Her victory in the pageant represented "an affirmation of some sort of acceptance" for Jewish people in America, the Times notes. As for her part, Myerson entered the pageant for the allure of a college scholarship and the money to buy her own piano.

After winning the pageant, Myerson ran for U.S. Senate and campaigned with Rep. Edward Koch (D) in his successful run for New York City mayor. She later worked under presidents Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter. Myerson was also New York City's first commissioner of consumer affairs.

In addition to her political work, Myerson had a TV career and performed with the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall. Myerson is succeeded by her daughter, Barra Grant.