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Fascinating True Stories from the Flip Side of History

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The Most Beautiful Ape in the World Contest

 

Lastly, one of my favorite movies of all time is 1968’s “Planet of the Apes.” The movie proved to be so successful that four sequels were made in quick succession. As a promotional stunt for the fourth film, “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes,” a contest was held to find “The Most Beautiful Ape In The World.”

An advertisement in the June 10, 1972 issue of the Los Angeles Times reads, “Girls… 18 and over! Enter the most Beautiful Ape in the World beauty contest! Sponsored by Gary Owens of radio station KMPC. Monday, June 12, 1972 – Century City Mall, near Broadway Department store – 12 noon. Winner to receive a one-week film role in producer Arthur P. Jacobs’ next Apes film. Music! Stars! Beautiful Apes! Judges, from the newest Apes movie are Ricardo Montalban, Don Murray, Hari Rhodes and Natalie Trundy.”

Each of the contestants was required to wear hotpants or bikinis during the competition. In addition, the young women had to cover their faces with an ape mask and were “judged solely on the basis of their figures and ability to climb trees.”

The winner of the contest, 24-year-old Dominique Green of Malibu, California, was guaranteed a one-week contract to appear in the fifth movie, 1973’s “Battle for the Planet of the Apes,” $350 in cash (approximately $2,150 today), and supposedly all the bananas she could eat.

So, did this make Ms. Green a movie star? According to the Internet Movie Database, the only film that she appeared in was “Battle for the Planet of the Apes.” Her role is listed as “Female Ape (uncredited).”

Colorized photograph of Gary Owens hosting the Most Beautiful Ape contest. Contestant number 2, Dominique Green was named the winner.
Colorized photograph of Gary Owens hosting the Most Beautiful Ape contest. Contestant number 2, Dominique Green was named the winner. Original black and white image appeared on page 87 of the June 15, 1972 publication of the Los Angeles Times.

Rita Hayworth Beautiful Legs Contest

 

On August 3, 1952 it was announced that the Worth Theater in Fort Worth, Texas would be sponsoring a beautiful legs contest to help promote Rita Hayworth’s latest film, “Affair in Trinidad.” The competition was open to any young woman, whether single or married, who had never acted or modeled professionally. All she had to do was complete the contest entry blank printed in the Fort Worth Star and send it, along with a photograph of herself in either a bathing suit or playsuit, to the theater. From the submissions received, the judges would select the top twelve girls solely on the basis of their legs. Then, on August 15, the dozen selected would compete for the best legs in front of a live audience just prior to the premiere of “Affair in Trinidad.”

Advertisement for one of the many Rita Hayworth Beautiful Legs contests. Image appeared on page 16 of the September 19, 1952 publication of the Spokane Chronicle. (Click to enlarge.)

At first glance, it seemed as if the winner of the contest would win an all-expenses-paid trip to Trinidad, plus a two-day trip to New York, a bon voyage party, a contract with a New York model agency, and an additional $3,000 worth of assorted prizes.

But the devil was in the details. In reality, the top winners in Fort Worth would receive prizes from a local women’s clothing store. The grand prize winner would have her photograph forwarded to New York for national judging. That is because the same contest was occurring in cities and towns all across the United States.

The winner of the Rita Hayworth Beautiful Legs Contest in Fort Worth was 18-year-old Miss Charlyne Campbell, a senior at Polytechnic High School. The following May, Charlyne competed in the Miss Fort Worth Pageant. She was described in the newspaper as, “a blond with blue gray eyes, weighs 125 pounds and is five feet, five inches tall. Miss. Campbell has a 37-inch bust measurement, 23-inch waist and 36-inch hips.”

Needless to say, Charlyne did not win the contest. Miss Bettie Harbin, a sophomore at Texas Christian University, was crowned Miss Fort Worth. That made Miss Harbin eligible to compete in the Miss Texas contest, but she lost out to Paula Marie Lane, of which The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported, “The 18-year-old miss is 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighs 128 pounds. She has a 36-inch bust, 34-inch waist and 37-inch hips. She was graduated from Cleburne High School this spring and has ambitions to be an airline stewardess or a model.” Paula Lane went on to compete in the Miss America contest but lost out that year to Evelyn Ay, Miss Pennsylvania.

Fort Worth’s Rita Hayworth Beautiful Legs contest winner Miss Charlyne Campbell. Image appeared on page 5 of the August 16, 1952 publication of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Submarine Rodeo

 

On July 8, 1961, the Pleasant Lake Lyons Club in Indiana held their annual Submarine Rodeo scuba competition. Each year, this event attracted several thousand enthusiastic fans to watch the various diving events that were scheduled.

Some of the contests included the Weight Carry, the Recovery Dive contest, and a Compass Course event.

But, the highlight of this event was the last contest of the day. It was a diving contest that involved homemade midget submarines. These various crafts had been built from old aircraft parts, boilers, and steam fittings. Contestants in this contest came from great distances to compete. Basically, the divers had to use all of their diving skills to capture one of these elusive submarines.

According to the article, the first Submarine Rodeo was held in 1959 at Pleasant Lake. The contest continued through the mid-1960s, although it is unclear when they held it for the last time. It was reported that one of the big problems with these homemade submarines was that Lloyd’s of London refused to insure any of them.

Advertisement for the 1963 Pleasant Lake Submarine Rodeo that appeared on page 12 of the July 17, 1963 issue of the Steuben Republican. (Click on image to enlarge.)

One-Week with the Beatles?

 

On Sunday, August 1, 1965, 17-year-old Cheryl Bedrock of 636 Floral Ave. in Elizabeth, New Jersey received the call of a lifetime. The caller identified himself as Beatle Paul McCartney and told Cheryl that she had won first prize in “The Golden Rolls-Royce Contest.”

She was about to spend an entire week with the Beatles.

Cheryl’s mother got on the phone and spoke to a second man. He said that he was the Beatles manager Brian Epstein and told Cheryl that she be flying aboard BOAC out of Kennedy airport the next Saturday. Upon hanging up, a call was made to BOAC and they confirmed that they had a New York-to-London reservation for Cheryl.

After hanging up, one of Cheryl’s uncles decided to do some further checking. While there had been, in fact, a plane reservation made in Cheryl’s name, records showed that it had been made by her mother, which they knew was untrue. A call to Brian Epstein’s New York office told the uncle that they had never heard of the contest.

Cheryl’s brother Lewis told the press, “If it is a hoax, it’s really amazing. My mother is skeptical about anything like this, and if they convinced her over the phone they must have been good.”

Well, it really was a hoax, but when the promoters of the Beatles legendary August 15, 1965 Shea Stadium concert caught wind of what had happened, they provided Cheryl with two free tickets and limousine service to the show.

Merged photograph showing The Beatles on stage at the King’s Hall, Belfast in 1964. Image from Flickr.