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California began participating in the Miss America Pageant, a beauty/scholarship contest, in 1924 and at that time the franchise was given to Santa Cruz. The competition moved from being held at the Bandstand at the Boardwalk in 1966 to the Santa Cruz Civic, where it was held until 1985. Some say protests in the form of the Myth California Pageant, which started in 1979, prompted the 'official' pageant to leave. The 1985 winner of Miss California was Lisa Davenport representing San Mateo County. However, her hometown was listed as Santa Cruz.
Over the years, the pageant has made efforts to make it more than just a beauty pageant. As of 2010 the mission of the :Miss California Scholarship Organization wants to encourage "broader knowledge of current events and the world around them, verbal communication, physical fitness, personal grooming, and the opportunity of showing their creative and performing arts talents."
Aside from the scholarships, the publicity has helped many careers. Lee Ann Meriwether was Miss California for 1955. She became an actress on TV. (Most remembered as Catwoman on Batman.) Susan Ellen Anton was Miss California for 1969. She became known for commercials and TV shows. Fay Elinora Lanphier (1924) was Miss Californa and Miss Santa Cruz. She became a model and was in a movie. Lisa Davenport, Miss California of 1985 has a career in TV. Miss San Carlos beauty pageant winner for 1977 became governor of Michigan (Jennifer Granholm). Jacquelynne Fontaine, Miss California for 2006, is an opera singer. Nicole Lamarche was Miss California winner of 2003. She is now an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ.
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