Days Gone By - stories from the past

A remarkable Alabama lady changed a practice in the Miss America contest

Did you know that when Yolande Betbeze, Alabama’s first Miss America winner of 1951 refused to pose in a swimsuit throughout her reign. She insisted that she was a classical singer, not a pin-up. The officials supported her in the decision and from then on, the Miss America pageant concentrated more on scholarship than beauty.

Yolande was born on November 29, 1928, in Mobile, Alabama to William and Ethel Betbeze. She was raised in a strict Roman Catholic family and attended convent schools. She entered the Miss Alabama pageant for the scholarship opportunities.

Catalina withdrew their sponsorship

The officials supported her in the decision and from then on, the Miss America pageant concentrated more on scholarship than beauty. As a result of her decision, Catalina swimwear withdrew their sponsorship of the Miss America Pageant and began planning the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants.


Yolande won in 1950, but the title was for 1951. She is the first Miss America title to be “postdated” in this manner. Due to the change, there was no Miss America 1950. Yolande became an activist for many causes later in life and gained a reputation as an opera singer in the Mobile area.

In 1954, she married movie magnate Matthew Fox, the former president of Universal Pictures, They had one daughter, Yolande “Dolly” Fox Campbell.

Yolande Fox died on February 22, 2016, in Washington D. C. of lung cancer.

See best-selling books by Donna R Causey

Faith and Courage: 2nd edition -A Novel of Colonial America Inspired by real people and actual events, the family saga of colonial America continues with Ambrose Dixon’s family. Faith and Courage presents the religious persecution of Quakers in Pre-Revolutionary War days of America intertwined with a love story.


About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. Yes, Bebe was a school friend of my older cousin. We were so proud of this Mobile lady !!

    1. My husband taught ROTC at Spring Hill College in Mobile at that time. The ROTC of the college sponsored her in the Miss America contest. The guys were so proud of her and she was thankful to them.

  2. Mary Anne Woolsey Duhe

  3. Good for her! a classy lady!

  4. She would spend time at the Albright home next to us at the Bay. Such a beautiful lady!

  5. You can see worse and less dressing at wal mart today than they wore in the video. lol

  6. She was from Theodore, AL!

  7. I thought Bet Morrison was the first woman to refuse to wear a bathing suit in the Miss America pageant

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