Bess Myerson, Former Miss America Defamed by Scandal, Dies at 90

The first Jewish to be declared Miss America, whose career fell apart after a scandalous affair, passed away in December in California.

AceShowbiz - %cBess Myerson%, who was very much in the public eye as a television personality and a force in public affairs, died at the age of 90 at her home in Santa Monica, California, on December 14. The death was confirmed by public records, but it wasn't publicly announced.

The statuesque lady was crowned Miss America in 1945, just days after the brutal World War II ended, and she rose as a symbol of the Jews' ethnic pride. Following her coronation, the elegant brown-haired lady became a panelist and a hostess of game show "I've Got a Secret".

Myerson's political career started in the 1960s. As a consumer affairs commissioner later in 1970s, she successfully made reformations in consumer-protection laws, such as unit pricing and open dating of perishable food. Her vibrant career continued as she became the major force behind Mayor Edward I. Koch's electoral success in 1977. Media consultant David Garth told New York magazine, "Koch wouldn't have won without Bess."

Behind the sparks of her political victories, however, there was a turbulent personal life. Myerson married twice, both ended in divorce, and besides more romantic relationships that crashed awfully, there were arrests of shoplifting and reports of her erratic behavior.

Her downfall started when she met a sewer contractor 21 years her junior, Andy Capasso, during her campaign in 1980. The wealthy, married man volunteered to help her clear her debts and raise funds. They were having an affair, and Capasso's wife, Nancy, decided to make it public and took him to Family Court, followed by different cases of bribery allegations and indictments that had a huge impact on Myerson's reputation.

In her later days, the fallen queen seemed to avoid public attention. Mostly for Jewish causes, she occasionally did charity work and gave lectures. She also joined Share, an organization which supported women with ovarian and breast cancer. "Everybody asks me, 'So what are you doing now?' Why must I be doing something? All my life I've been doing. For now, I'm busy being - being quiet, being grateful. Finally, finally, it's time for me. Not the public Bess Myerson. The private me," she said.

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