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Miss America Bess Myerson's Daughter Recalls Growing up with the Beauty Queen

Olawale Ogunjimi
Feb 29, 2020
11:00 P.M.
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In her lifetime, Bess Myerson, who won the Miss America Beauty Pageant in 1945, was a high-profile personality, even serving as an adviser to three Presidents of the United States, and her only child and daughter, has revealed what it was like living with her. 


It's been five years since Bess Myerson, winner of the 1945 edition of Miss America, died at the age of 90. Bess remains the first and only Jewish woman to have won the Miss America Pageant.

 Her achievement is made more significant, given that she won the pageant after the Holocaust. Bess was also famously known as the beloved panelist in the game shows, "The Big Payoff," "The Name's the Same," as well as "I've Got a Secret."

Former Miss America and now NYC Commissioner Of Consumer Affairs, Bess Myerson on April 01, 1969. | Photo: Getty Images


Bess also had stints on the "Today Show," in which she regularly substituted for Dave Garroway. Bess lived a busy life, which also saw her go into politics, and become an adviser to three Presidents. 

Living with a woman such as Bess Myerson could be an experience to remember, and her daughter, Barra Grant, 70, shared details about her upbringing under Bess in her new book, "Miss America's Ugly Daughter: Bess Myerson & Me." 

In the book, Grant admitted that reliving the memories of her childhood was a challenging experience, as her mother's high-profile career left her with feelings of isolation. 

Daily News consumer columnist Bess Myerson in a portrait on September 04, 1973. | Photo: Getty Images


Grant, however, is not holding on too much to those past experiences, but instead, is determined to face it and find forgiveness in her quest to move forward. 

She also said that the message of her book was forgiveness, as it was only through forgiveness that one could be truly free from the hurts of the past

In an interview with Fox News, she said that she wrote the book because she wanted to explore the relationship mothers had with their daughters, adding that hers was particular due to Bess being Miss America. At the same time, Grant wasn't really an attractive kid. 

Bess Myerson received the New School's Fiorello H. La Guardia Award for service to the city and spent the evening dancing with Mayor Koch and showing off her daughter on March 16, 1978. | Photo: Getty Images


Bess added that having her mother as a role model was somewhat tricky. She also said that she wrote the book to discuss the prevalence of Anti-Semitism in America and Europe. When asked about when she discovered her mom was different from other moms, Grant said:

"Oh, pretty early in my life, because she was very famous when I went to school and people knew who I was…So I always knew from an early age that I had a special place in the world because my mom was who she was."

Grant revealed that Bess contested in the Miss America pageant after being convinced by her older sister and that she faced a lot of discrimination during the pageant due to her Jewish origin. 


Bess Myerson with an assist from her daughter Barra Grant, kisses her father Louis Myerson. May 06, 1980. | Photo: Getty Images

Grant also said that the most challenging memory she had about growing up was living in her mom's shadow and that it stayed with her for the rest of her life, even after she became "OK looking."


Grant also spoke about her mother's political career and how the late pageant winner coped with aging. Grant said that the message of her book was forgiveness, as it was only through forgiveness that one could be truly free from the hurts of the past. 

Bess Myerson at courthouse, where jury acquitted her and co-defendants in conspiracy trial on December 22, 1988. | Photo: Getty Images

Bess Myerson died on December 14, 2014. She spent her last years on earth living in Santa Monica, in a high-rise apartment in Palisades Park.