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Queen Bess: An Unauthorized Biography of Bess Myerson

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As detailed in this absorbing biography, Bess Myerson dazzled as a beauty queen, television personality, and politician—before scandal toppled her career When Bess Myerson, the Bronx-born daughter of Jewish immigrants, was crowned Miss America in 1945, she was determined to break down gender barriers and be more than a beauty queen. Amid rampant anti-Semitism, she took ad As detailed in this absorbing biography, Bess Myerson dazzled as a beauty queen, television personality, and politician—before scandal toppled her career When Bess Myerson, the Bronx-born daughter of Jewish immigrants, was crowned Miss America in 1945, she was determined to break down gender barriers and be more than a beauty queen. Amid rampant anti-Semitism, she took advantage of her reign to call for an end to bigotry and hate. Then, after more than two decades as a glamorous television personality, Myerson took on corporate America, applying her celebrity as a consumer advocate to become an influential New York City political figure credited with helping elect Mayor Edward I. Koch. But behind the glittering public image, Myerson struggled with unhappy marriages. Then, in her early sixties, she found love with a much younger married man. The romance put her at the center of a political corruption scandal that led to federal charges brought by US Attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, ending the reign of Queen Bess, New York’s favorite daughter, after more than forty years.   Award-winning investigative journalist Jennifer Preston reveals Myerson’s fascinating life story in this engaging biography. Featuring interviews with Myerson herself and a new introduction from the author, Queen Bess remains the most comprehensive account of this ambitious and talented woman who inspired, entertained, and shocked millions.


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As detailed in this absorbing biography, Bess Myerson dazzled as a beauty queen, television personality, and politician—before scandal toppled her career When Bess Myerson, the Bronx-born daughter of Jewish immigrants, was crowned Miss America in 1945, she was determined to break down gender barriers and be more than a beauty queen. Amid rampant anti-Semitism, she took ad As detailed in this absorbing biography, Bess Myerson dazzled as a beauty queen, television personality, and politician—before scandal toppled her career When Bess Myerson, the Bronx-born daughter of Jewish immigrants, was crowned Miss America in 1945, she was determined to break down gender barriers and be more than a beauty queen. Amid rampant anti-Semitism, she took advantage of her reign to call for an end to bigotry and hate. Then, after more than two decades as a glamorous television personality, Myerson took on corporate America, applying her celebrity as a consumer advocate to become an influential New York City political figure credited with helping elect Mayor Edward I. Koch. But behind the glittering public image, Myerson struggled with unhappy marriages. Then, in her early sixties, she found love with a much younger married man. The romance put her at the center of a political corruption scandal that led to federal charges brought by US Attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, ending the reign of Queen Bess, New York’s favorite daughter, after more than forty years.   Award-winning investigative journalist Jennifer Preston reveals Myerson’s fascinating life story in this engaging biography. Featuring interviews with Myerson herself and a new introduction from the author, Queen Bess remains the most comprehensive account of this ambitious and talented woman who inspired, entertained, and shocked millions.

30 review for Queen Bess: An Unauthorized Biography of Bess Myerson

  1. 5 out of 5

    SundayAtDusk

    "Looking back now, I wonder whether I was too young to write a biography of someone twice my age. I knew I had much to learn about life before writing someone else's biography. That's perhaps why this story of Bess Myerson relies less on opinions and assumptions, and more heavily on in-depth reporting, public records, transcripts and interviews. I let the reporting lead me on the journey to tell her story." Queen Bess: The Unauthorized Biography of Bess Myerson, which first came out in 1990, has "Looking back now, I wonder whether I was too young to write a biography of someone twice my age. I knew I had much to learn about life before writing someone else's biography. That's perhaps why this story of Bess Myerson relies less on opinions and assumptions, and more heavily on in-depth reporting, public records, transcripts and interviews. I let the reporting lead me on the journey to tell her story." Queen Bess: The Unauthorized Biography of Bess Myerson, which first came out in 1990, has a Kindle edition coming out later this month, and an updated introduction is apparently the only new thing in the Kindle version. The above quote by author Jennifer Preston is from that new introduction. It's an intelligent and insightful quote from someone who obviously realized she didn't know everything in her late 20s. She's also hitting on the main problem of this book, however. While maybe her youthful opinions and assumptions would not have been the most discerning, there were others, during the time she was writing the book, who could have been asked to provide wiser observations, and who should have been quoted in this biography. Having such limited analysis of Beth Myerson will unfortunately probably leave many readers wondering what in the world happened to such an intelligent, beautiful woman who obviously cared for others besides herself. Or, even worse, many readers, who are far from being prejudice-free, may simply see her as being a money obsessed Jew. My feelings at the end of the story were something else. Even though I thought this biography was a good read that I would definitely recommend to others, I felt nothing but emptiness the day after finishing the book, when thinking about how to review it. There was strangely no analysis going on in my mind, no thoughts as to why Bess Myerson did what she did. Her trial was over. Her story was over. Her life was over in 2014. The end. (Note: I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gail O'Connor

    Compelling account of someone I only thought of as a Miss America. Keeps you interested right to the end

  3. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Not too long ago, I stumbled upon a biography of Bill Cullen. I'm a huge fan of fifties and early sixties game shows, and have a special fondness for Cullen, so I bought it and read it. It was everything I hoped it would be, and it turns out Bill was essentially the nice guy we saw on our tv screens. A few months later, this title was listed in on Amazon at a deeply discounted price. Since arguably my favorite game show of all time is I've Got a Secret, and my favorite panel configuration from th Not too long ago, I stumbled upon a biography of Bill Cullen. I'm a huge fan of fifties and early sixties game shows, and have a special fondness for Cullen, so I bought it and read it. It was everything I hoped it would be, and it turns out Bill was essentially the nice guy we saw on our tv screens. A few months later, this title was listed in on Amazon at a deeply discounted price. Since arguably my favorite game show of all time is I've Got a Secret, and my favorite panel configuration from that show is Bill Cullen, Betsy Palmer, Henry Morgan, and Bess Myerson, and the e-book was dirt cheap, I considered the purchase a no-brainer. I was hoping to find a few tidbits about Myerson's personal life, and maybe some behind the scenes info about IGAS. What I got instead was deeply discounted despondency. The beginning of the book was fascinating, as it covered Bess's upbringing in New York, and progressed through her being crowned Miss America. As soon as she got married, the troubles seemed to begin. Bess was always worried about money, and never stopped worrying about it, even after her net worth was in the millions. When she thought she'd been wronged, she fought back, hard, and without worrying about little things like fairness or legalities. By the end, Bess had amassed a personal fortune, two ex-husbands, one much younger boyfriend with questionable business practices, a television career, a public service career in consumer affairs and the arts, a couple of shoplifting arrests, and one giant scandal which culminated in a trial that received massive publicity in New York City. She was acquitted, the much younger boyfriend was acquitted (even as he was serving a prison term for insurance fraud), and the judge Bess was accused of having influenced to amend the boyfriend's divorce settlement was acquitted. Going strictly by the information presented in the book (which had the benefit of hindsight, and the ability to present information that the jury was not allowed to hear), they were all guilty-- federal prosecutors simply did not prove their case. The book lets us know that the majority of jury members at the trial felt the same way-- probably guilty, yes, but the evidence to convict wasn't there. I suppose it's nearly impossible to live a high-profile life in NYC, have a lot of money, be closely associated with politics, and not have some dirt sticking to you somewhere. But I'll never be able to watch an episode of I've Got a Secret again without thinking of this book. The brainy brunette on the right end of the desk was a lot more complicated-- and troubled-- than she seemed. I've already read Henry Morgan's autobiography-- his persona on IGAS was that of a grumpy rapscallion, so I was prepared for what I learned about him. I'd really love to find a book about Betsy Palmer, but I'm afraid I'd find out things I'd really rather not know about the woman who seemed so utterly sweet and naive on television. And if you have any incriminating information about Garry Moore, I do not want to know.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Hope

    Category: A Character With The Same First, Last, Or Middle Name As You The biography of the first Jewish Miss America. This book details her life and all the sordid details. I wish that the book were about 50% shorter, but I did find her story captivating.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Good read The book is an interesting, fun read, even if you are only vaguely aware of Bess Myerson. It's a very New York story. She was very disciplined, which accounts for her success. Also many of her problems. I feel sad for the Gabels, all of them. The parents had it tough with their smart daughter and her emotional-psychological fault lines. The daughter has it hard trying to figure out how to successfully navigate a world, and its social interactions, she doesn't understand.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

    Interesting story about the rich and famous though too long in some chapters about other people on the outskirts of her life. I remember being familiar with her back in the 80s and always wondered what led to her fall from grace.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Mayer sharp

    Interesting book Her life was interesting and certainly her relationships but at times it seemed almost too detailed but it certainly was though.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Corie

  9. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Wetzel

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sue Brady

  11. 5 out of 5

    thomas r hixenbaugh

  12. 4 out of 5

    diane forde

  13. 5 out of 5

    Teddie

  14. 4 out of 5

    Carol Miller

  15. 5 out of 5

    Stacey Cohen

  16. 5 out of 5

    Brent P Payne

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sandra L. Klein

  18. 5 out of 5

    Liz B Boyd

  19. 4 out of 5

    Carol Goodkin

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ann

  21. 4 out of 5

    Deb

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bj Strickland

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sarahm

  24. 5 out of 5

    George Jay

  25. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

  26. 4 out of 5

    Marjorie Milnes

  27. 5 out of 5

    Annie

  28. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

  29. 5 out of 5

    Julie Crowl

  30. 4 out of 5

    Frances Harkins

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