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URGENT Miss Tennessee Crowned Miss America In Atlantic City

September 14, 1986

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ Miss Tennessee Kellye Cash, the grandniece of country star Johnny Cash, walked the line on the runway Saturday after she was crowned Miss America 1987.

The first runnerup was Miss Virginia Julianne Smith, 21, of Yorktown. The second runnerup was Miss South Carolina Dawn Elizabeth Smith, 22, of Columbia. Third runnerup was Miss Michigan Kelly Garver, 23, of Farmington, and the fourth runnerup was Miss Missouri Tamara Tungate, 21, of St. Peters.

Miss Cash remained calm and dry-eyed as she was pronounced the winner and took her victory stroll down the runway in Convention Hall as emcee Gary Collins sang the pageant standard ″There She Is.″

″Oh, wow, it was like a dream come true,″ she said afterward. ″I’m not much of a crier. I didn’t cry at Miss Tennessee either, but give me time.″

″I’m just excited. I’m just ready to start my year,″ she said, adding, ″I did feel that I had done well, so I was hoping to hear my name.″

When asked what she would like to accomplish during her reign, Miss Cash said, ″I would just want to represent America and the pageant extremely well. I’m the type of person who can do that.″

Wearing a white sequined gown with platinum sequined stripes, the blonde Miss Cash was crowned by Miss America 1986 Susan Akin, 22, of Meridian, Miss.

Miss Cash, a 21-year-old from Memphis, Tenn., whose father is a naval aviator in command of a ship deployed on NATO exercises off the coast of Norway, mouthed the words, ″Oh, my God″ as her name was announced and lifted her palms upward in a gesture of disbelief to the crowd of 20,000 in the hall and a national television audience of millions.

She said that as her name was called out, ″when I was waving, I said, ’I love you, Dad.‴

Her father, Capt. Roy Cash Jr. of the USS El Paso, was not able to attend the pageant but had planned to try to pick up the telecast via satellite.

A senior majoring in communications and public relations at Memphis State University, Miss Cash accompanied herself on the piano as she sang ″I’ll Be Home″ in a voice that began in a whisper and climbed to an emotional crescendo.

Her performance and appearance in a swimsuit last week made her the only double-winner in preliminary competition.

The 5-foot-8, 116-pound Miss Cash, who has green eyes, became the second Miss America from Tennessee and has a connection to the first from birth. She was delivered by the doctor-husband of Miss America 1947 Barbara Walker Hummel.

Miss Cash said her famous granduncle was on tour and couldn’t come to the pageant, but planned to watch it on television from Los Angeles.

″Oh, my God,″ said Cash when told that his grandniece had been crowned the new Miss America. ″Isn’t that wonderful. That is fabulous. I’m so proud of her.″

Her father wrote Johnny Cash’s hit, ″I Still Miss Someone,″ while sitting in an accounting class in the early 1960s, she said.

Her musical style, pops and blues, differs from that of Cash, but Miss Cash said she tries to emulate the presence he has on stage.

″I guess he’s been an inspiration to me in that he has a lot of charisma on stage,″ she said.

A newcomer to the pageant arena, winning the state title the first time she tried, Miss Cash said she nevertheless has been preparing for the pageant all her life by taking 10 years of piano and voice lessons and by living with her family in eight states and four foreign countries.

She said the frequent moves of her military family made her accustomed to getting to know new people and gave her the opportunity to perform in many places.

″I think it (moving) is very good for girls, especially if they want to become very outgoing and learn how to communicate with people,″ said Miss Cash.

She entered her first pageant, a local contest, in March. She lost, but entered another pageant several weeks later to go to the Miss Tennessee competition.

″I didn’t want to enter until I was ready, and I think I was ready,″ she said.

Miss Cash’s family said her victory was God’s will, and that daily prayer meetings they held each morning of pageant week helped bring it about.

″I definitely think it gave her the edge,″ said Miss Cash’s aunt, Judy McClellan of Germantown, Tenn. ″I think she’s here because of that.″

Miss Cash’s mother, Billie H. Cash, said her daughter’s faith helped carry her through.

″Our faith is rather practical. We prayed for what God wanted,″ she said, adding that her daughter is ″ready to communicate to America.″

She said she thought it was more difficult for her father, captain of the USS El Paso, not to be able to attend the pageant than it was for her, because of her large gallery of supporters from Tennessee. Miss Cash has a brother, Carey, 16. She plans a career in public relations and communications for a major corporation.

The names of eight non-finalists awarded $3,000 scholarships in recognition of their talents also were announced Saturday. They are: Miss California Lisa Karen Kahre, 19, of Salinas; Miss Colorado Carol Janson, 21, of Boulder; Miss Florida Molly Scott Pesce, 23, of Longwood; Miss Hawaii Cheryl Bartlett, 23, of Honolulu; Miss Kentucky Melinda Katharine Cumberledge, 23, of Lexington; Miss Louisiana Amanda Mainord, 20, of Baton Rouge; Miss Oklahoma Mignon Merchant, 25, of Oklahoma City; and Miss Vermont Michelle Shelley Dawson, 18, of Charlotte.

The 65-year-old Miss America Pageant is the largest contributor of scholarships to young women, awarding more than $5 million among many of the estimated 80,000 contestants who enter local contests every year.

Miss America receives a $30,000 scholarship, which she can request in cash after her year’s reign, and can expect to earn more than $100,000 in appearance fees. Many former queens have used the experience to launch careers in show business.

The first runner-up wins a $17,000 scholarship and the next three finishers get $11,000, $8,000 and $6,000 in scholarships.

The other finalists are awarded $4,000 to be used toward their educations.

″There She Is″ was first sung at the pageant in 1951, but was dropped in 1981 in a dispute with composer Bernie Wayne over money. The song returned last year.

The judges were film and stage star Theodore Bikel; Miss America 1975 Shirley Cothran Barrett; actress Dody Goodman; television agent Sam Haskell; choreographer Dee Dee Wood; 1983 Tony Award winner Liliane Montevecchi; Bernard J. Dobroski, dean of the School of Music at the University of Oregon; and Bernard A. Maguire, the federal government’s associate director for national preparedness.

This year’s pageant was a relatively quiet affair.

Interest in the pageant was piqued two years ago by the resignation of Miss America 1984 Vanessa Williams of New York after nude photos of her appeared in Penthouse magazine.

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