This post is a part of TMP’s Historical Context series, where I share excerpts from my collection of vintage publications.
Myrna Hansen, by all accounts a regular Chicago girl, had a huge year in 1953.
After graduating from Carl Schurz High School in June of that year, Myrna was chosen as the Chicago Press Photographers Association’s Miss Photoflash. After winning this title, Myrna went on to compete in the Miss USA contest, taking home the crown and moving on to Miss Universe.
Myrna placed second for Miss Universe (losing to Christiane Martel, a French girl who would lose her crown for lying about her age), but she went on to find even greater fame.
Before making a name from her beauty, Myrna had wanted to be a veterinarian. But when she began taking home big pageant titles, she found a new path as an actress, and as the 1954 cover girl of True Story magazine.
I happen to own two of the issues that feature Hansen on the cover: January 1954 and December 1954, her first and last issues as cover girl.
Page four of the January issue has a little blurb about her titled “Meet the New ‘Miss True Story.'” The mag mentions Myrna’s Miss USA win and describes her as “the ideal American girl in looks, likes and ambitions.” It is mentioned that she graduated from high school with honors and has a great interest in swimming, figure skating and horseback riding. She’s also a good Samaritan, having jumped into Lake Michigan to save a drowning young man!
Marriage is not on the horizon for young Myrna, the mag states, because she’s focused on her new career as a model and actress. Winning Miss USA scored her a contract with Universal Pictures, which she had negotiated up to a seven-year contract by the end of 1954, starting at $200 per week with the option to increase to up to $900 per week.
Only a few years later, though, Hansen began to be scouted by MGM. She did extensive “undercover” research so her performances would be more sincere, and after some time away from Hollywood to do this research, MGM signed her.
“Her fresh good looks and her sweet, direct manner give Myrna Hansen every chance of success,” the True Story bio states.
Myrna did find some Hollywood success. She worked in both film and television, taking on 26 roles in total and extending her career through the early 1970s. Included in her filmography are small roles in Douglas Sirk’s There’s Always Tomorrow, Nicholas Ray’s Party Girl and Richard Quine’s So This Is Paris. She gave her final performance in Larry Cohen’s 1973 crime drama Black Caesar.
NOW I know why I like that cover girl so much! She was one of the favorite models of an artist I like, Gil Elvgren, who did ‘girl next door’ pin-ups for calendars and advertising from the 1930s to the 1970s. Thanks for the cool write-up about her!
I love Gil Elvgren’s work. Didn’t know that she modeled for him! Cool!