Dear Mr. And Mrs. America:
The American phenomenon of gospel show business is on the wane, but it’s far from dead. Converted motion-picture actors, television personalities, and rock ’n roll singers (like Dick Van Dyke, Pat Boone, Cliff Richard) are still frequently stellar attractions at Christian mass meetings. A recent San Francisco Youth for Christ rally featuring Miss America of 1965, Vonda Kay Van Dyke, is a vivid case.
After a preliminary Soupy Sales-type pie-in-the-face fun fest, rally director Guy Rowe introduced the teen-age YFC King and Queen who brought on The Celebrity Herself. The curtains parted revealing the former Miss America seated in regal splendor on an elevated golden throne in the midst of four majestic columns topped by the banner: “Vonda Kay Van Dyke.” Hair beautifully coiffed high on her head and wearing a discreet filmy, flowing rose gown, Miss Van Dyke gracefully descended to down center stage to receive a bouquet of roses. Regrettably, Bert Parks wasn’t present to sing you-know-what.
The beauty, charm, and talent of Miss Van Dyke (now a real-life Mrs.) showed why she was chosen both Miss Congeniality and Miss America. A fifteen minute routine with her dummy, “Kurly-Q,” displayed her versatility as a ventriloquist (which will soon land her guest shots on network television). Her bright personality, humorous “dialogue,” and sweet singing made a smash hit with the clean-cut, unhippie teenagers in the audience of 400 (or evangelistically speaking, 600).
Then Vonda gave a direct statement of her personal commitment to Christ. She recounted experiences and rewards of being Miss America—travel, appearances, friendships, a scholarship, a car, and a $10,000 wardrobe (at which teenyboppers audibly sighed). ...1
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