Marilyn Meseke

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Marilyn Meseke (also known as Marilyn Hume-Rogers following her marriages) (October 7, 1916 – September 12, 2001) has the distinction of being twice crowned Miss Ohio (1931 and 1938) and Miss America in 1938.

Meseke (ME-Sek-KE) was christened Mary Ellen Spurrier in 1917, near Lima, Ohio. While still an infant, her mother surrendered custody to her maternal grandmother. Following her adoption, Mary Ellen was renamed Marilyn, given her grandmother’s surname of Meseke and reared in the family home on South Prospect Street in Marion, Ohio. While still a child, she exhibited a talent for dance and received formal dance instruction throughout her childhood; she later became a tap dance instructor, using the family’s living room as her studio.

Meseke entered and won the Miss Ohio competition twice. Her first title was won in 1931 at the age of 14; her young age kept her from the national pageant. Her second title in 1938 qualified her to represent Ohio in the national Miss America Pageant. 1938 was the first year that talent became a scoring event in the competition which was fortutitous as Meseke was a talented tap dancer. While her hometown listened to the pageant on the radio, Meseke won the crown on September 10, 1938.

The event also marked the first time that movie audiences could see a Miss America being crowned through news reel footage shown the week following the event. Meseke’s return to...
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