- Associated Press - Sunday, February 14, 2016

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (AP) - Orangeburg’s best-known beauty queen, Betty Lane Cherry Gramling, has some advice for Miss Colombia, who was crowned Miss Universe in December but lost the crown to Miss Philippines within minutes.

“Hold your head high because you’re going to get opportunities like you’ve never seen before,” Gramling said. “You’re going to meet people you never dreamed of meeting and you’re going to have a chance to raise money for charities all over the world.

“You’ll get to travel and meet people who will be friends for a lifetime.”

Gramling, first runner-up in the 1956 Miss World competition, knows firsthand.

Like Miss Colombia, it appeared that Gramling had been named Miss World. However, within minutes, Miss Germany was proclaimed Miss World and Gramling was runner-up.

But her story was a little different from that of Miss Colombia, in which host Steve Harvey incorrectly announced the wrong winner. On the other hand, Gramling was never actually proclaimed Miss World.

She was among the six finalists called on stage.

“As we were walking out, someone from backstage took the Miss World sash and threw it over my shoulders and that was seen on all the newsreels everywhere,” she said.

“But I didn’t know,” she said. “I thought everybody had a sash.”

Everyone else was aghast because she had the sash on and the winner hadn’t been announced.

“Someone came up behind me and took it off,” she said. “Then Miss Germany was called the winner and I was first runner-up. The judges asked me why I had proclaimed myself the winner. They thought I had put that sash on myself. They told me that I was going to win, but they didn’t like that.”

However, she didn’t lose out by being runner-up, Gramling said.

“I was invited to so many countries after that as a guest,” she said. “I got the most publicity and everywhere we went, it was in the paper - all over Europe.”

Along with her chaperone, she visited France, where she was in a fashion show. She also visited Germany, Italy, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

“I was known everywhere we went because of all the publicity,” she said. “A girl is in a pageant like that - just for being there - is going to have opportunities that she’s dreamed about.”

Being runner-up opened doors for her to model and be in the movies, Gramling said. She got offers from Walt Disney and Howard Hughes.

She turned down a role in “Sweet Smell of Success” and the girl who took the part won an Academy Award, Gramling said.

“I was a homebody,” she said. “I had to make choices.”

After graduating from Columbia College, she returned to Orangeburg and married John “Johnny” Gramling. She also found her own calling.

She has no regrets about missing out on being Miss World or any of the opportunities she turned down, Gramling said.

“I opened my own school here,” she said. “Through the years, I’ve taken hundreds and hundreds of young people to New York to compete in competitions. I was the president of the Modeling Association of America International three different times - was a member for almost 50 years.”

“It was my calling, absolutely. A lot of my former students have gone on and are doing really well,” she said. “The things I did every year in New York were big and they helped young people.

“Everything that you do is a step toward something else, if you handle yourself correctly.”

Strangely enough, they never found out who threw the sash over her shoulder, she said. It was really a scandal in Europe.

___

Information from: The Times & Democrat, https://www.timesanddemocrat.com


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