Miss Idaho 1933 Margaret Wittman - Disqualified (residency)


It is unknown how Margaret Wittman came to represent the state of Idaho when her hometown was Spokane, Washington, but somehow she came to the attention of the Pageant Promotional Director James Carrier who was responsible for contestants from the MidWest. It is not thought that Margaret competed in any local or regional beauty pageants, but she did join the seven MidWest contestants on the seven-week Whistle Stop Tour leading up to the National Pageant. On the final night in Atlantic City her name was simply dropped from the voting ballot, as were those of the other three disqualified contestants.


1930 Wittman family census - Spokane, Washington -- CLICK ON ANY PICTURE FOR A LARGER VIEW
1930 census: Spokane, Washington:
West 2414 Dalton Avenue
Joe Wittman 43 (WI) chief clerk of a railroad
Virginia 40 (IL), Margaret 16 (WA). Note: her parents were born in Wisconsin and Illinois, Margaret was born in Washington (Spokane), but one of Joseph's sisters lived in Idaho.

Margaret from the panorama picture - age 19
It is unknown exactly how Margaret was chosen Miss Idaho in June/July. Spokane is just 15 miles from the Idaho border, and its newspapers and radio serve several Idaho communties too, and Margaret had lived in Coeur D'Alene for a time. However, Idaho is not known to have had a state contest, and Margaret was living in Spokane, and she herself implicated Pageant Promotional Director James Carrier who chose several MidWest contestants. Thus, it is thought that her path ran across that of Pageant promotional director James Carrier sometime in June/July, somewhere in the MidWest, as Idaho/Washington are 1800 miles from Chicago and St. Louis. It is hypothesized that perhaps her family went to the Chicago World Fair, and ran into James Carrier there, as two other MidWest contestants were chosen by Carrier after participating in the Court of Honor beauty contest for the Fair. In fact, Miss America Organization Ric Ferentz had thought three contestants were picked from a contest in Illinois -- it is thought these might be Arkansas, Idaho, and Kentucky. And Margaret's father being a railroad chief clerk may have encouraged the family to take such a long train trip.

Margaret was one of the seven Midwest contestants who traveled together from the end of July from Chicago and St. Louis to Atlantic City on the seven-week Whistle Stop pageant beauties tour. On many occasions the tour included a vaudeville act with short performances by the beauties; the Cape Girardeau article on August 1 mentions that Margaret was a tap dancer. One newspaper that states hometowns lists an Ilinois city for Miss Illinois and the Idaho city of Couer D'Alene for Margaret.

1933 - Margaret is fourth from the left
1933 - Margaret is second from right
Margaret is listed in July 23 picture and caption in the St. Louis newspaper with Miss Missouri, and featured on August 6th with Miss Kentucky Lucille Rader having a cooking lesson. Margaret is mentioned in the August 26-29 articles in Charleston, WV with the other seven MidWest contestants, and pictured in the Sep 6-8 articles nationwide with a picture of six Midwest contestants who visited the Nation's capital; this is thought to be a picture from when many contestants performed at Chevy Chase Lake, a suburb of Washington, DC. The only contestant known to have visited Washington, DC was Miss Wisconsin who made a special trip after the Pageant ended and was received in the Oval Office by President Roosevelt!

Margaret is not specified in the Atlantic City Newspapers until the disqualification issue: "I can't say anything to the newspapers," said Margaret Wittman, 19, brunette, who wears the ribbon of "Miss Idaho." The New Castle, PA newspaper on Sep 7th, prior to the announcements, specified that "The second girl said she never resided in the state she represents and had not competed in any sort of contest in that state" -- this is clearly Miss Idaho Margaret Wittman. This article says that the three "girls, interviewd by International news Service ... attributed the mistake to a promoter..." -- see more details on disqualification.

9/12/1933 Tyrone, PA newspaper
At the end of the Pageant, the Pageant Committee refused to give the disqualified contestants funds to get back to their home towns, but only to their (inaccurate) stated home town; for Margaret this was to Boise, 400 miles from Spokane. As Miss Illinois Lillian Kroener described it in her 1936 exposé -- "Then came the crowning insult. Margaret Witteman -- "Miss Idaho" came bursting into my room. "What do you think, Lillian?" she sobbed. "They'll only give me my fare as far as Boise, Idaho. They say as far as they're concerned, I can hoof it from there back to Spokane where they got me."" In addition to the Atlantic City articles reporting on the disqualification issue, there were several subsequent articles nationwide about the women disqualified. The 9/12 article at right specified that Margaret was a resident of Spokane, and the two newspaper sources that mention details on the disqualified contestants (9/7 New Castle, PA and 9/12 Tyrone, PA) both say that all the MidWest contestants disqualified, including Margaret, blamed promoter Jimmy Carrier. Miss Illinois' exposé also places all the blame on James Carrier, and since Margaret did meet up with the other MidWest contestants (while Miss Washington did not), it is assumed Carrier was indeed responsible. It is unknown if Margaret had been involved in any beauty contest in Washington; she only stated that she was not involved in any beauty contest in Idaho.

1964 Yuba City obituaries
Subsequently, Margaret Wittman did return home and lived at home with her parents where she graduated from Washington State University and subsequently worked as a Branch Manager for the Western Union Company 1938-1941. Her father died unexpectedly in 1939. While she lived in Spokane, she briefly dated Bing Crosby, who came to one of her birthday parties! In 1942, Margaret and her mother moved to Los Angeles, where Margaret worked as a model and was active in the Red Cross. In 1940 Margaret Wittman is living in Los Angeles and works as a solicitor for a newspaper. She married Film Director John H. Salm, and became the mother to three step-children.

Margaret was the first 1933 contestant to die, in 1964 at the young age of 50, after a long battle with lung cancer.

Social Security Death Index: There is no Social Security Death Index for her as records prior to 1968 were not computerized.
Birth record: Margaret Virginia Wittman, 8 Feb 1914, Female, Spokane City, Joe Wittman, Virginia May Staley.
California Death Index, 1940-1997 Name: Margaret V Salm Social Security #: 533031012 Sex: FEMALE Birth Date: 9 Feb 1914 Birthplace: Washington Death Date: 17 Dec 1964 Death Place: Sutter -- but her birth date was supposed to be the 8th not the 9th. This is 22 years before her mother dies, and coincides with the mother living in Spokane for 20 years before her death.

(maybe) SALM, JOHN 19 Dec 1901 Oct 1971 69 94101 (San Francisco, San Francisco, CA) (none specified) California 551-09-2659

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1932 yearbook entry (click here for full entry)
1932 yearbook entry (click here for full entry)
Margaret had graduated from North Central High School in 1932 (yearbook photos at right). I am indebted to the principal who looked up the old yearbooks and sent me the photos for me to make sure I had the correct Margaret Wittman. I am also deeply indebted to Spokane Librarian Becky Menzel, who was so intrigued with this project that she looked up a multitude of directories and obituaries for me; without her help I would never have found the family of Margaret Wittman, since Virginia Wittman's (Margaret's mother) 1986 obituary did not list a daughter, alive or predeceased, and also said she lived in Spokane for only 20 years.
I spoke with a first cousin-once removed of Margaret's who confirmed her identity, and is delighted to have these pictures; she had not known that Margaret had been involved with the Pageant. She was the one who related the story that Margaret had dated Bing Crosby, and he had even attended one of her birthday parties! Harry "Bing" Crosby (1903-1977) was a popular singer and actor, born in Tacoma, Washington and got his start in a band in Spokane, Washington in the 1920s. However, Bing Crosby was married to acress Dixie Lee in 1930 until her death in 1947; it is not clear if Bing and Margaret "dated" in 1930 when she was 16 and he was 27 or in 1947+. The cousin said Margaret married a Film Director, died in Northern California in the 1960s of lung cancer, and was estranged from her mother (which seems odd as her mother had moved from Los Angeles to Yuba with the Salms just 10 months before Margaret's death, according to her obituary). She is confirming the surname of Salm.
I have not confirmed that John H. Salm was a film director. (Note that Margaret Salm's obituaries state her mother is Mrs. Joseph Wittman, and that Margaret was a native of Spokane, confirming this is the correct Margaret.) Thanks are extended to the Sutter County Library for looking up the obituaries.