Miss New Jersey 1933 Gertrude Christman - semi-finalist
2nd in the Evening Gown competition


 

Gertrude considered the Miss America pageant the happiest time of her life, and her defining moment. She sought fame and the spotlight, and the Pageant provided this -- she was second in the Evening Dress competition, which is deemed second in importance only to the final selection, and for which she garnered a silver cup. After the Pageant she sang professionally in local clubs with swing bands, even with Frank Sinatra! In later years she told her family she was appalled that Miss Arkansas was married, but never mentioned the residency disqualifications or the underaged contestants, of which she was one at age 15.


1930 Christman family census form
Ridgefield Park Village, Overpeck Township, Bergen County, NJ
William H. Christman 53 (PA) owner of a gas filling station
Eva F. 48 (NY), William R. 20 (NJ), Gertrude 11 (NJ). (Gertrude had two older sisters; on the 1920 census there are also Emma and Vivian, born 1902 and 1907).
Gertrude was born on May 7, 1918, the youngest child of William and Eva Christman.

Gertrude from the panorama shot - age 15
Nothing is known about the qualifying state pageants in New Jersey.

Atlantic City newspaper: Miss N Y Wins Gold Cup For Pageant Girls Judged Best Appearing Girl in Evening Dress; Miss New Jersey Second. Second prize, a silver cup, was awarded to "Miss New Jersey," Gertrude Christman, 17, of Ridgefield, who wore a black and white figured gown. Approximately 3500 persons attended the contest which by tradition is second only in importance to the final selection of a queen of American beauty. (Picture of the three winners at right; source: Philadelphia Inquirer)

The three winners of the evening gown competition (backside)
9/5 Atlantic City - Gertrude is third from right
WI WV OH DE MI VA NJ (backside)
Caption on picture at lower right, which was featured in some newspapers nationwide (e.g., 9/8/33 St Louis): "Here are some of the beauties from the Middle Atlantic States enjoying a stroll along the boardwalk after they arrived in Atlantic City to compete for the title of "Miss America" in the annual Atlantic City beauty pageant. They are, left to right: Evangeline Glidewell, "Miss Virginia"; Geraldine Glassman, "Miss Pennsylvania"; Ruth Le Roy, "Miss Atlantic City" and Hostess to the Beauties; Elsa Donath, "Miss New York City"; Dorota Dennis, "Miss Maryland"; Gertrude Christman, "Miss New Jersey"; Victoria George, "Miss Delaware"; and Flo Myer, "Miss New York State." (reference reverse side of photo.)

Although the Atlantic City newspaper says that Gertrude was 17, in reality she was 15, younger than the minimum age of 16. (At least four of the 31 contestants were under the minimum required age, including winner Marion Bergeron.)

Curiously, she was appalled that one of the contestants was married, but did not mention anything to her son or daughter-in-law about the residency issues or age issues!

As did several contestants, Gertrude had a scrapbook that she treasured, and her family still has her bathing suit, which they say is made out of a very heavy material.

9/6 Mansfield, OH

The September 6th Mansfield, OH newspaper ran a picture of Gertrude along with Miss New York State Florence Meyers -- titled: "Potenial 'Miss Americas,'" We don't want the job of choosing "Miss America" from amongst the bevy of state beauties who will contest the title at Atlantic City, N.J., in the near future. Even if only these two were entered, the task of selecting the more beautiful would be no easy one. Large panel is "Miss New Jersey," otherwise Miss Gertrude Christian [sic] of Richfield Park, N. J. Inset is "Miss New York State," in private life, Miss Florence Meyers of East Rockaway, L. I.

After the pageant, Gertrude sang professionally at local clubs in New Jersey, specifically with swing bands. She sang in the Palisades club, a famous club that was very popular, and one person she sang with was Frank Sinatra, before he became such a superstar! In 1940 Gertrude is married with a son, living at home with her parents and working as a vocalist in an orchestra; it is not certain if this is her first marriage.

Her private life was somewhat dischordant; she was married three times, and had two sons who did not live close to her. According to her son and daughter-in-law, she often reminisced about the Pageant, feeling it was the highlight of her life, a defining moment that set her life on a different course. She was concerned about her beauty all her life, and sought the fame of the spotlight.

Gertrude died in 2003 at age 85.
Social Security Death Index: GERTRUDE E CHRISTMAN, date of birth: 07 May 1918, date of death: 28 Dec 2003 (V), last residence: 92804 (Anaheim, Orange, CA), last benefit: (none specified), social security number: 103-03-4629, place issued: New York

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Located Gertrude through descendants of her brothers, who referred me to her son.