The author of Making Tootsie (1983) and Double De Palma (1984) chronicles the turbulent reigning year of Bess Myerson, Miss America. In its formative years, the Miss America pageant waffled between cheesecake and class and--as a result--sometimes made mistakes. Bess was one of them. Nourished in the Bronx Jewish working-class, and possessing a strong social conscience, she gained her crown with her beauty and dignity, but lost the pageant's support when it became evident that the public would not buy a Jewish Miss America (one scheduled appearance at an exclusive club was cancelled after Bess had already arrived, and endorsement opportunities failed to materialize). Aspiring conductor Bess was furious: (had she worn an undersized white bathing suit for nothing?) But wisely, the Anti-Defamation League snapped her up, offering speaking engagements to dispel anti-Semitism and racism. Thus, while acting as a symbol for American unity and prosperity, Bess helped address American bigotry. Having given meaning to a potentially empty year, Bess descended the throne in relief and rushed into married--and temporary--obscurity. An intriguing social history made more so in light of the recent ""Bess Mess"" scandals.