Barbara Anne Harris
Winston-Salem hosted the 1952 pageant when twenty-two-year-old Barbara Anne Harris of Salisbury, a Woman’s College graduate and classical vocalist, sang “Mon coeur s’ouvre ‘a ta voix” and garnered the state title. She participated in the Miss America Pageant and had her photo taken with Marilyn Monroe, Grand Marshall of the Miss America parade.
She was the first woman from Salisbury ever to win the Miss North Carolina title. Harris claimed her crown on the night of July 26, 1952, in Winston-Salem. She sang during the talent competition, wore a blue bathing suit for the swimsuit judging, and finished the evening in a white evening gown. At 5 feet, 2 inches tall, Harris may have been the shortest Miss North Carolina on record. She competed with 37 other contestants, ranging in age from 18 to 24. Harris was 22 at the time. Her prizes included a free trip to Atlantic City for the Miss America pageant, a $1,000 scholarship to any school of her choice, a complete wardrobe, luggage, and a silver trophy.
“A hectic month followed leading up to the Miss America competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She toured New York and went through hours of coaching and singing rehearsals for the pageant, which included the usual bathing suit, evening gown and talent categories. During the week, Barbara had her picture taken with the parade marshal, Marilyn Monroe. It was a tossup as to who was prettier, though Monroe raised eyebrows with a dress whose neckline plunged to her waist.
The Salisbury Evening Post sent a reporter to cover all of Barbara’s pageant activities. Editors assumed readers were so familiar with her by then that headlines sometimes referred to her as “Babs.” All that week, Barbara stayed in luxurious Claridge Hotel facing the Boardwalk. She was attended to by two hostesses, a chaperone and an escort. Mr. and Mr. John Googe of Winston-Salem took care of many of the details, such as wardrobe, telephone calls and scheduling. Barbara also had a Nash convertible and a private chauffeur at her disposal. Though Barbara didn’t make the final 10 in the 1952 Miss America Pageant, she was mentioned prominently for the Grand Talent Award. She filled the Atlantic City convention hall with an aria from “Samson and Delilah,” prompting a rousing ovation from the crowd of 18,000.
That Miss America experience was only the start of a full year for Barbara. She went to work as a music teacher in Wilson City Schools, but as Miss North Carolina, she also had to make more than 100 appearances in all parts of the state (and neighboring states). She served as princess for the Carolina’s Carousel in Charlotte, maid of honor to Queen Alexis Smith at the 1953 Azalea Festival in Wilmington and queen of the Albemarle Potato Festival in Elizabeth City. For Rowan County’s bicentennial celebration of 1953, Barbara shared top billing with President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Not long after surrendering her Miss North Carolina crown to a successor, Barbara married, became a kindergarten teacher and soon had children.”
Quoted from “Barbara Harris Richmond: a beauty queen who loved the pageantry of life,” posted at missnews.com