Miss Florida 1933 - Minnie Belle Murray (did not compete)

Florida had many local contests that culminated in a state contest at Clearwater Beach over the Fourth of July weekend. Minnie Belle Murray of Fort Myers was chosen as Miss Florida at this event, and presented with a Willys* sedan automobile, loving cup and a wardrobe as her prizes. While she attended the Chicago World's Fair in her official capacity on August 27th, it is unknown why she did not go to Atlantic City for the pageant on September 5-10, as she was expected to do.

Minnie married Walter C. Sweeney, Jr., an Air Force pilot who led the raid on Tokyo in World War II. Minnie died on May 20, 1998 in Miami, Fl, at age 82, having survived her husband by 33 years. She was survived by two children, a daughter and a son.


Thank you to Tim Neal who brought her to my attention, after finding the articles below on Google newspaper archives. And a warm thank you also to librarian Angie Fesperman of the Clearwater Public Library, who researched the July 1-5 Clearwater Sun newspapers for articles.


1930 Minnie Belle Murray census form
Minnie Belle Murray would have been 17 at the time of the contest; she was 14 on the 1930 census, and the oldest of three children (two brothers). Her father owned a Ford dealership.
Moore Haven City, Glade County
R. L. Murray 38, proprietor of a Ford dealership
Idythe 36, Minnie Belle 14, Robert L. Jr 13, John P. 5. (The parents were born in Mississippi and the children in Louisiana).

The local contests were sponsored by the Sparks Theater chain, and were held in the cities that had Sparks Theaters: Miami, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Gainesville, Ft. Lauderdale, Ocala, Palatka, Sanford, Orlando, Ft. Myers, St. Augustine, DeLand, Ft. Pierce, Tallahassee, Daytona Beach, Winterhaven, Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater during the week of June 25. (see June 9 newspaper listing below). The state competition was held on July 4th at Clearwater Beach, with the young women (and their chaperones) feted for two days prior to the event with boat rides, sight-seeing and a special luncheon before the judging. There were substantial cash awards for first runner-up ($100) and second runner-up ($50). The newspaper accounts state that the woman chosen as Miss Florida would represent the state at the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City.

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Curiously, a GOOGLE search on "Miss Florida 1933" and discovered a Hungarian website with an American home movie clip about Miss Florida 1933 18-year old Janet Arrington!! Although she was a "Miss Florida" of 1933, she was chosen in a different capacity as this clip is from March.

1931 Willys sedan
*Willys sedan: Willys was the brand name used by automobile company Willys-Overland Motors, best known for its Jeep brand. From 1912 to 1918, Willys was the second largest producer of automobiles in the United States behind only the Ford Motor Company. Willys-Overland Motors started having financial woes in the recession of 1920, which resulted in a restructuring of the company. By 1933 the firm was on the brink of bankruptcy again, and sold off plants and factories to downsize again. Willys was best known for its production of the Jeep, a trademarked brand-name. In 1963 the company name was changed to Kaiser-Jeep, and in 1970 was bought by the American Motors Corporation.

Friday, June 9, 1933

The Independent, St. Petersburg
Bathing Beauty Contest is Slated as Feature of July Fourth Celebration
Clearwater, June 9. -- The Fourth of July will be a glorious one here this year, if the plans outlined for the state-wide bathing beauty contest and celebration by the chamber of commerce are carried out.
The Sparks Consolidated Theaters and the chamber of commerce will sponsor the beauty contest, which is expected to attract entries from all over the state.
It has been practically decided to hold a ball at the municipal auditorium on the night of July 4 in honor of "Miss Florida," the winner of the contest, and prizes will probably be awarded at the same time.
The competition for the state beauty title will be conducted at the city pier at Clearwater beach late in the afternoon. The contestants will march before the judges on the picnic porches at that place.
Girls who intend to compete in the contest will arrive in Clearwater the day before the Fourth. As part of the entertainment for the visitors, a boat trip will be given the night of July 3 and a luncheon on July 4.
Elimination contest to select entrants for the final show here will be held in every Florida city where there is a Sparks theater, during the week of June 25, Jack Fitzwater, manager of the Capitol and Ritz theaters, announces. Included in the cities which will enter candidates for the "Miss Florida" title are Miami, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Gainesville, Ft. Lauderdale, Ocala, Palatka, Sanford, Orlando, Ft. Myers, St. Augustine, DeLand, Ft. Pierce, Tallahassee, Daytona Beach, Winterhaven, Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater.
To precede the beauty contest, a program of public entertainment has been planned by the chamber of commerce. This will probably include swimming and boat races, a concert and other features not yet announced.

June 15, 1933

The Independent, St. Petersburg
Contest Winner to be Given Car
Sparks Theaters to Give Away Automobile at Beauty Show
Clearwater, June 16. -- The prize for the winner of the state bathing beauty contest to be held in Clearwater July 4 will be an automobile, a Willys sedan, according to announcement by Secretary Fred J. Lee of the Chamber of Commerce.
The Sparks Consolidated theaters will give the car, as they are sponsoring the contest, in cooperation with the chamber of commerce. Notification of the award was received by B. B. Garner of Lakeland, district manager of the Sparks theaters.
Second and third place winners are to receive cash prizes of $100 and $50, respectively, from the Clearwater chamber of commerce, the secretary states.
Twenty cities are expected to select girls to send here to compete for the title of :Miss Florida." In every town where there is a Sparks theater a local contest will be held to select the young woman to appear in the elimination finals at Clearwater Beach.
Girls who wish to ender (sic) the contest from Clearwater may obtain full particulars from Jack Fitzwater, manager of the Capitol theater. Merchants of this city plan to sponsor girls in the Clearwater contest, which will be held at the Capitol theater. Contestants must be 16 or over and unmarried.
Entrants are to arrive at the West Coast hotel, contest headquarters, not later than 4 p.m. July 3. A reception committee from the Junior Woman's Club will welcome them. At 8:30 they will appear on the stage of the Capitol theater and later will be taken for a boat trip.
On July 4 the contestants will go on a short sight-seeing tour of the county capital, with luncheon at the Clearwater Beach hotel at noon.
The review will be held at 5 o'clock at the city pier. Five judges will select the winners. "Miss Florida" will appear at the Capitol theater at 8:30.

June 15, 1933

The Independent, St. Petersburg, FL
The Florida is also arranging a beauty contest to choose "Miss St. Petersburg" who will compete at Clearwater in the annual contest held in that city to select "Miss Florida." It is expected that some 25 girls will be entered in the contest which will be held on the stage at the Florid Theatre July 1. The state-wide contest at Clearwater will be held July 4. Many local business houses have signed up for the contest, each to have a girl compete for the title of being "Miss St. Petersburg." There is a long chance that some of the contestants might get into the movies through the contest.

June 26, 1933 - Miss Great Miami to be chosen

June 27, 1933 - Miss St. Petersburg to be selected

June 28, 1933 - Miss Miami Beach to be selected

June 29, 1933

The Miami News
Miss Palm Beach Will Be Selected
(Special to the Miami Daily News)
West Palm Beach, June 29. -- Two city commissioners, two judges and a public utility manager will act as "beauty experts" in the contest to select a "Miss Palm Beach" to be held at local motion picture houses Friday night.
The winner of the contest, which is sponsored by the Sparks theater chain, will receive a free trip to Clearwater to compete for the title of "Miss Florida," in a final contest there July 4.
The five judges, whose long experience in civic affairs is expected to give them expertness in ranking pulchritude and rating curves, are: Mayor Charles B. Watkins, Commissioner Vincent Oaksmith, Judge Phil O'Connell, Judge Harry Hauck and R. D. Hill, manager of the Florida Power & Light Co. here.

June 30, 1933

Miami Daily News
Beauty Will Be Chosen Tonight
Miss Greater Miami to be Selected by Judges at Olympia Theater Contest
Miss Greater Miami will be selected at the Olympia Theater at 9:30 p.m. from 20 girls who were chosen at elimination contests in four Sparks theaters Wednesday night.
The winner of tonight's contest will go to Clearwater July 4 to compete in the statewide contest to select Miss Florida. It is expected the winner of the Clearwater contest will be sent to Atlantic City later this summer to represent the state in the national beauty pageant where Miss America will be chosen.
Five prominent Miami artists will act as judges tonight. They are Nell Koons, artist photographer; William C. Haynes, art director of the E. B. Elliott Co.; George Baker, art director of the Florida Power & Light Co., and J. Borden Newman, of the Miami Academy of Art.
City Commissioner Clifford H. Reeder will present Miss Greater Miami with a silver loving cup to symbolize her victory. The cup was donated by the Bass Jewelry Co.
Burdine's, Inc. will outfit the winner for her trip to Clearwater. She will be presented by the store with a bathing suit, evening gown, and sports costume.
If Miss Greater Miami is awarded the title of Miss Florida she will be given a Willys sedan. Second place will win for her $100 in cash and there is a cash prize of $50 for third place.
An extensive program of entertainment has been arranges by officials in charge of the Clearwater program. From the time Miss Greater Miami and her chaperone arrive at the West Coast city at 4 p.m. July 3 they will be constantly entertained. All expenses of Miss Greater Miami and her chaperone to and from Clearwater and during their stay there will be paid by the Sparks theaters.

June 30, 1933

The Evening Independent
Miss Ruth Fulle Contest Winner [Miss Clearwater]
Packed House Applauds Selection in Bathing Beauty Contest
Clearwater, June 30. -- A packed house greeted the 17 Clearwater girls who had entered the state-wide bathing beauty contest and appeared on the stage of the Capitol theater last night.
Eash girl first pirouetted across the stage as her name was called and then they all formed in line on each side of the footlights while the decision of the judges was being made up for announcement by Manager Jack Fitzwater. During the interval when the votes of the judges were bding tabulated, members of the Broadway Collegians gave solo selections and a very graceful little girl danced, to the great delight of the spectators.
At last, Manager Fitswater announced that Miss Ruth Fulle had been selected s "Miss Clearwater," to be one of the 22 contestants in the state contest, and she was presented with a silver loving cup, an evening gown and a pass to the Capitol theater good for six months.
Winner of the second prize was Miss Willie Jo Lewis. She was given a three-months' pass to the Capitol.
Miss Fulle had a batting average of 86.4 with the judges. Their decision seemed to coincide with that of the witnesses almost 100 per cent.
The names of six men selected as judges for the July 4 revue have been announced, and the seventh remains to be chosen. Those who have accepted invitations are Peter Tomasello of Okeechobee City, speaker of the state house of representatives; State Senator Spessard L. Holland of Bartow, E. D., Lambright, editor of the Tampa Tribune; T. W. Parsons of Jacksonville, Neal Greening of Lakeland, A. M. Edwards, Gainesville.

July 1, 1933 -- picking Miss St. Petersburg

July 3, 1933 - details all the contestants for Miss Florida (including Minnie Belle Murray of Fort Myers), and the events planned for the Fourth of July.

July 2, 1933 large ad
July 2, 1933

Large newspaper ad (at left) in the Sunday paper advertising the Beauty contest and Fourth of July events.

July 4, 1933

The Evening Independent, St. Petersburg, FL
Crowds Flocking to County Seat
Monster Gathering Expected at Clearwater for Fourth Event
Clearwater, July 4. -- (Independent Bureau) -- This is a big day in the county capital, with a crowd estimated at between 30,000 and 50,000 people at Clearwater Beach.
Secretary Fred J. Lee introduced the 22 entrants in the bathing beauty contest over ratio station WFLA last night and the festivities began with a dance by the Indiana Aces for the visitors at the municipal auditorium which did not end until early today. They all admitted having a wonderful time. Peter Tomasello of Okeechobee City, one of the judges at the beauty review, said over the radio that he had achieved his life amibition and everybody concerned started off the day in a very happy mood.
Last night at 8:30 all of the contestants entered in the state beauty contest, to be held at Clearwater Beach at 5 o'clock this afternoon, appeared on the stage of the Capitol theater in a group and tonight the winner of the state contest will also appear in person at the theater. The celebrtion centers around the beauty contest in which 22 girls from south Florida towns will view for the title of "Miss Florida of 1933." The show is sponsored by the Sparks Theaters and the Clearwater chamber of commerce. The climax of the program will be the review at the city pier on Clearwater Beach at 5 o'clock. If the tropical disturbance which has been advertised brings rain, the event will be held in the municipal auditorium at the foot of Cleveland street.
Today's program includes:
Sailing races on Mandalay marine speedway, sponsored by Clearwater Junior Yacht club, begining at at 11 o'clock.
Nine swimming and diving events for men, women, boys and girls, at city pier, starting at 1:30 o'clock.
Dance, sponsored by chamber of commerce, at municipal auditorium in honor of "Miss Florida," 9:30 o'clock.
Awarding prize to "Miss Florida" and winners of second and third places, at municipal auditorium at 10:30 o'clock.
"Miss Florida" will be introduced to a radio audience from the studio of WSUN between 11 and 11:30 o'clock tonight.

Tuesday, July 4, 1933

(front page) Clearwater Sun
Beauty Contest is Feature of July 4 Program. Miss Fort Myers, Last of 22 Entrants, Arrives; Judging Will Be at 5 p.m.
....The last of the 22 entrants to the All-Florida beauty contest sponsored by the Sparks Theaters and the Chamber of Commerce arrived this morning. She was Miss Minnie Belle Murray, of Fort Myers. The other representatives of cities from Tallahassee to Miami came in yesterday.
If the sun continues to shine the finals of the beauty contest will be held at the City Pier at the beach. In the event of rain at the appointed hour, the review will be held inside the Municipal Auditorium. ...
Entrants in the beauty contest accompanied Fred J. Lee, secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, to the beach this morning to have snapshots made. Last night the girls held a rehearsal at the pier and later were entertained with a moonlight cruise on the Gulf and at a dance at the auditorium.
The highlight of this evening's entertainment will be a dance at the Municipal Auditorium, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, honoring Miss Florida. ...

Wednesday, July 5, 1933

Clearwater Sun (front page)
Ft. Myers Girl Wins Title of 'Miss Florida'
Miss Jacksonville Second, Miss Clearwater Third; 5768 Cars Cross Causeway
With no other amibition at present except "to finish college," Miss Minnie Belle Murray, 17-year-old blonde, returned to her Fort Myers home today carrying the title of Miss Florida of 1933, won in the state bathing beauty contest here yesterday.
The contest, sponsored by the Sparks Theaters and the Chamber of Commerce, was the drawing card of a Fourth of July program which attracted a crowd estimated by Fred J. Lee, Chamber of Commerce secretary, at 35,000 persons. A check made at the causeway draw bridge from early yesterday morning to last night showed 5768 automobiles went to the beach, despite a rainy afternoon. Most of the cars carried capacity loads and there were many trucks transporting 20 to 30 persons.
Because of the rain, the beauty contest was transferred from the City Pier to the Municipal Auditorium. A crowd that filled every available seat and most of the standing room saw the girls from 22 Florida cities pass in review, and then waited for nearly two and a half hours for the judging to be completed. It was 7:30 before the winners were announced.
Miss Enid Hardee, Jacksonville, was runner-up for the title and Miss Ruthe Fulle, Clearwater, was third. Both are brunettes. The first prize was a Willys sedan, given by the Sparks Theaters, and the second and third prizes were $100 and $50 in cash given by the Chamber of Commerce.
Miss Murray remained in Clearwater this morning to pose for news reel scenes, and then left for home driving the car she received as prize. She was accompanied by her mother, Mrs. Robert Louis Murray, and friends from Fort Myers.
Miss Murry was a freshman at the Florida State College for Women last year. And as far as her education is concerned, her selection as Miss Florida will not change her plans.
"I'm interested in dramatics," she said. "I was in plays in high school. But I haven't any plans for trying to go on the stage or in the movies. All I'm thinking about now is finishing college."
Miss Murray is blonde, but not pronouncedly so. She has light brown hair, bobbed, blue eyes and fair complexion. She is five feet four inches in height and weighs 111 pounds. ...
The three winners were chosen from the six girls who stood highest in the scoring after the judges' votes on all 22 were tabulated. ... Under the system of rating used, each contestant was given points on face, figure, carriage and personality. ...
Immediately following the announcement of the selections, Frank Bell, manager of the Deland theater, pinned the Miss Florida ribbon on Miss Murray and presented her with a bouquet of roses, on behalf of the Sparks Theaters. She and the other winners later appeared at the Capitol Theater. ...

The Reading Eagle - August 27, 1933
August 27, 1933 (at right)

Caption: Florida Peach: Miss Minnie Belle Murray, winner of the title "Miss Florida," is shown here with a basket of fruit at the Florida exhibit at A Centry of Progress - the Chicago World's Fair.

The Miami News - October 25, 1933
October 25, 1933 (at left)

Caption: Mrs. Charles Ringling, right, who is in Miami traveling with the circus of which her late husband was one of the founders, had this photograph taken in Chicago recently with Miss Minnie Belle Murray, "Miss Florida," left, of Fort Myers at the Century of Progress. With them is Baraboo, infant zebra born in the town of this name in Wisconsin, where the Ringling show was organized. Mrs. Ringling has lived in Florida 23 years and has a home at Sarasota where she stays during the winter. She will return there tonight when the show breaks up in Miami.

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March 31, 1963

St. Petersburg Times
Former Miss Clearwater
She Won In '33; Still A Winner
Clearwater -- Mrs, Dorman Morris was crowned three decades ago, but she'd still attract attention in any crowd.
Now a housewife in Raleigh, N.C., the former Ruth Fulle was a special guest last night at the coronation ball of Miss Clearwater of 1963.
Mrs. Morris won her crown in 1933 as a 16-year-old Clearwater High School student. She was the youngest contestant in the competition, staged at the Capital Theatre.
The Miss Florida contest was also held here that year and Ruth won second runner-up laurels at Clearwater Auditorium.
"Miss Fort Myers was first and Miss Jacksonville was second," she recalled yesterday at the home of her mother and her realtor husband Jack Cribbs on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard. "I remember the judges called me out first and I thought for a minute I had won. But they were just prolonging the suspense for the winner."
Then, as now, the Miss Clearwater Contest was sponsored by the Junior Chamber of Commerce.
"I might not have won," she says modestly, "if they had the talent competition they do today."
Like any woman looking ahead to Easter, Mrs. Morris, wife of a bank vice-president, brought a hatbox among her luggage, with her Easter hat inside. She still makes a pretty picture.

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Walter C. Sweeney's 1965 obituary.
Minnie's SSDI entry: MINNIE B SWEENEY 25 Oct 1915 20 May 1998 (P) 33157 (Miami, Miami-dade, FL) (none specified) 267-98-9406 Florida