Leona Gage, one of the most memorable Miss USA winners, has died in Los Angeles at the age of 71. Leona Gage was crowned Miss USA in 1957 only to have her title stripped the next day after pageant officials learned that she was married with two children.
The rules were strict back then and Leona Gage spoke to reporters after her win blatantly lying. “I want to wait until I’m 26 before I become seriously interested in the opposite sex,” she said. The day after her win, the truth came out and the public learned she had been married twice (at the age of 14!), had a second child at age 16 and was 18 years old, not 21.
Leona Gage hid her pregnancy for as long as she could and told The Sun,
To my mother, that was the biggest scandal there could be. All my life, she said, ‘Don’t you dare go into the bushes with a boy and get yourself pregnant.’
Just like winners that came decades later, Leona Gage was the first Carrie Prejean and used her infamous status to garner nationwide attention. She made appearances on many television programs including The Ed Sullivan Show.
Despite her notoriety, life was no picnic for her as time went on. She married six times and had five children, two of whom died before she did. Gage also battled addiction.
So what is the lesson here? Don’t lie.