She was 97 years old at the time.
Jo-Carroll Dennison, who turned her Miss America triumph in 1942 into a successful acting career that included roles in films such as Winged Victory and The Jolson Story, has died at her home in Idyllwild, California and her death was confirmed by her son, Peter Stoneham, who did not provide a cause.
She was the oldest living Miss America at the time of her death and held the title through the worst days of World War II.
Dennison won the competition in 1942 by performing an impassioned rendition of “Deep in the Heart of Texas” while costumed as a cowgirl. Her talent section earned her the nickname “The Texas Tornado” in the papers, and she swept the talent and swimwear competitions to win the tournament.
In a video she produced in September for the Miss America pageant’s 100th anniversary, she said, “I’m glad to have lived long enough to see how women’s fight against inequality, sexual harassment and abuse has finally come to the fore.”
Reactions to Miss America Jo-Carroll Dennison Dies At 97
Disparition à l'âge de 97 ans de #JoCarrollDennison, actrice entre 1943 et 1953. Elle avait joué dans #WingedVictory en 1944, #TheJolsonStory (Le Roman d'Al Jolson) en 1946 ou #Pickup (La Racoleuse) en 1951. #RIPJoCarrollDennison pic.twitter.com/tmAPLZ3bBB— Cinephemeride [Fabrice] (@Cinephemeride) November 1, 2021