I don't know if time heals all wounds, but it often smooths edges. When Bess Myerson was chosen Miss America in 1945, she reportedly still found hotels and other sites still closed to her as a Jew. But to me as a boy, she was just that pretty brunette panelist on the TV game show I've Got a Secret.
If anything, attitudes changed toward American Jews have changed even more thoroughly. Or maybe, mainstream just don't like to mention religion at all. So many media obits of Myerson, who died Dec. 14, play down her faith and heritage beyond the phrase "the first (and, to this day, only) Jewish Miss America."
CNN does one of the better jobs with Myerson's Jewish connections. It says many American Jews looked up to her as a role model, as they admired Jewish ballplayers Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax.
One of CNN's best remarks, though, is borrowed:
"Her victory was seen by many as a symbolic statement of America's post-war rejection of the crimes and prejudices that ravaged Europe as well as a representation of the vitality of the American Jewish community," noted a biography on the Jewish Women's Archive site.
Most of the report is the "classic rags-to-riches" story -- yes, CNN actually uses that phrase -- of a Bronx girl who became a media figure, then entered public service in New York and took a fling at the U.S. Senate. It also briefly reviews, as do other media, the "Bess Mess," a "mid-'80s scandal involving a romantic affair with a married contractor and an alleged quid pro quo with the judge in his divorce trial."