That Time in the 80s When Two Owensboro, Kentucky Women Made the Miss USA Top Five [VIDEOS]
It seems anyone can be famous in the 2020s. All you need is the right video on Tik Tok, Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube and it can happen.
But back in the early 1980s, there was no Internet and consequently no available platform on which you could post something for all the world to see. Heck, back then, "post" meant the mail or a box of cereal.
OWENSBORO REPRESENTS IN THE MISS USA PAGEANT PART I: 1980
So it was arguably even more exciting 40 years ago when someone you knew or someone from your hometown made it onto national television. Such was the case in 1980 when Owensboro native and Daviess County High School graduate Lisa Devillez became Miss Kentucky and then went on to become a finalist in the 1980 Miss USA pageant.
Among many other things, that meant she got to meet and have a conversation with TV icon Bob Barker. I'm not sure what the pageant's format is these days, but back then, one of the competitions for the SEMI-finalists was the interview round.
At the 15:48 mark, Barker interviews Lisa Devillez:
And once she was named as a finalist, Lisa got one more question from the legendary host. Fast forward to the 7:02 mark for the interaction:
The excitement sort of tempered a bit at the end of the pageant; Lisa Devillez was a finalist, but she FINISHED in fifth place. But that just meant she got to be visible longer than 46 other contestants.
OWENSBORO REPRESENTS IN THE MISS USA PAGEANT PART II: 1982
Two years later, in 1982, history would repeat itself as Kristina Chapman of Owensboro--ALSO a Daviess County High School graduate--enjoyed a long run at the Miss USA pageant. Her question from Bob Barker in the semi-finals comes at the 9:37 mark:
And, like Lisa, when Kristina made the top five, she got her final question from Barker, which comes at the 3:23 mark:
Also, like Lisa--it's so weird how many common bonds are present between these two women and these two pageants--Kristina's stay in the finals wasn't long, but she still got there. Most impressive.
KENTUCKY REPRESENTS IN THE MISS USA PAGEANT
Johanna Reid in 1964, Julie Andrus in 1965, Patricia Barnstable in 1971, Kristen Johnson in 2005, and Maria Montgomery in 2009 are other Kentucky representatives who made the Miss USA finals.
In 2006, Tara Conner--born in Dallas, Texas but raised in Russell Springs, Kentucky--became the first contestant from the Commonwealth to win the Miss USA title.
In 2021, Elle Smith--a reporter for WHAS-Louisville--became the second.
LET'S NOT FORGET MISS AMERICA
And I would be remiss if I didn't include Heather French Henry--just Heather French at the time--who became Miss America 2000 in September of 1999. So far, she's the only Kentuckian to win that pageant.
Since Kentucky was done well over the long history of national pageants--the Miss USA Pageant, in particular--I always keep an eye on it.
It's still exciting to see someone from Owensboro or Kentucky on national television. I guess that doesn't get old.