Five Quotes From Bess Myerson, The Only Jewish Miss America

Ed Koch, Bess Myerson, and Henry Kissinger at Stephen S. Wise Award Dinner, 1977 via flickr

Bess Myerson, who died last month at the age of 90, was once described as ”the closest thing to a bona fide intellectual ever to cross a stage in a bathing suit.” The first (and only) Jewish Miss America, Myerson, parlayed her win into a television career and achieved local and national political influence. Myerson ultimately lost her public standing in the 1980s after a highly publicized scandal referred to as the “Bess Mess.” A woman of many lives, Myerson’s one constant was her quick wit. Here are five of her more memorable comebacks.

On changing her name: “I said, ‘I live in a cooperative with 250 other families, all of them Jewish. If I win, they’ll feel very, very good, but if I change my name, they won’t even know it’s me.”

On the press: “I’m glad you’re attractive, because I have had such trouble with fat, ugly reporters. They hate me.”

Her controversial love life: I am not the type of person to go after men. Men go after me. And I choose among them.”

Her beauty “God gave it to me and I’m grateful. I don’t question it.”

Her tough exterior: “A lot of the poignant parts of me have to do with my height. I had to protect myself because other people wouldn’t protect me. Even today, I’m always amazed at how people observe me. There’s always great strength attributed to me. But inside there’s a little girl trying to get out.”

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Five Quotes From Bess Myerson, The Only Jewish Miss America

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close
Close