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Venus Ramey Murphy (September 26, 1924 – June 17, 2017) was an American beauty pageant contestant, and later an activist. She won the Miss America competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey on September 9, 1944.

Venus Ramey
Venus Ramey in 2007
Born (1924-09-26)September 26, 1924
Ashland, Kentucky
Died June 17, 2017(2017-06-17) (aged 92)
Science Hill, Kentucky
Occupation Tobacco farmer, activist
Title Miss America 1944
Predecessor Jean Bartel
Successor Bess Myerson
Children 2 sons

Born in Ashland, Kentucky[1], she left Kentucky to work for the war effort in Washington, DC, and won the Miss District of Columbia pageant and then became Miss America in 1944. She was the first red-haired contestant to win the title.[2]


Ramey became the first Miss America to successfully run for public office, seeking a seat in the Kentucky House of Representatives.[2]

She was wooed by Hollywood in 1947, but dissatisfied with show business, she returned home to her Eubank, Kentucky, tobacco farm (which she maintained for over 50 years) in Lincoln County, Kentucky. She married and raised two sons who survive her.[2]

In the 1970s, Ramey successfully campaigned to save Over-the-Rhine, a neighborhood in Cincinnati, Ohio. The neighborhood was eventually listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and her work led her to make an unsuccessful bid for a spot on the Cincinnati City Council.[2]

In April 2007, at age 82, Ramey confronted intruders who had entered a storage building on her farm where thieves had previously stolen equipment. She used a snub-nose .38 revolver to shoot out the tires on their pickup truck, then flagged down a car and had the driver call 911, holding the would-be thieves until the sheriff arrived. "I didn't even think twice. I just went and did it", she said. "If they'd even dared come close to me, they'd be six feet under by now."[3]

Tributes and deathEdit

In 1944, a B-17 of the 15th Air Force, 301st bomb group was named the Venus Ramey. This plane is reputed to be one of the longest-lived B-17s of the war, having flown over 150 missions and survived the war. It was later scrapped.[4]

There was also a B-24 Liberator bomber (42-52312) in the 454th bomb group named MISS AMERICA '44 which flew 133 missions.[5]

Ramey died in a Kentucky nursing home on June 17, 2017 at the age of 92.[6]


  1. ^ "Johnson County History... and That's a Fact". Retrieved 2007-04-20. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Miss America History 1944". Archived from the original on 2006-09-23. Retrieved 2006-12-30. 
  3. ^ "Armed Miss America 1944 stops intruder". April 20, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-03. 
  4. ^ Excerpt from National Review,, May 14, 2007.
  5. ^ B-24 Best Web
  6. ^ Venus Ramey | 1924 - 2017 | Obituary
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Jean Bartel
Miss America
Succeeded by
Bess Myerson
Preceded by
Dixie Lou Rafter
Miss Washington, D.C.
Succeeded by
Dorothy Powell