MACLEAN'S REPORTS

LIMELIGHT

Next chore for our courts: judging beauty contests

ALEXANDER ROSS December 14 1964
MACLEAN'S REPORTS

LIMELIGHT

Next chore for our courts: judging beauty contests

ALEXANDER ROSS December 14 1964

LIMELIGHT

MACLEAN'S REPORTS

Next chore for our courts: judging beauty contests

LINDA DOUMA is a blue-eyed brunette from Sidney, B.C. who doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, and sings spirituals very nicely. Mary Lou Farrell is a brown-haired confection from St. John’s, Newfoundland, and she sings nicely too, leaning to light opera.

Linda is Miss Canada. She won her title last month in Toronto’s O’Keefe Centre, while an estimated three million viewers looked on through a twelve - station CTV hookup. Mary Lou is Miss Dominion of Canada, and she won her crown last July 1 in Niagara Falls. Both queens were chosen over girls from all parts of the country, and both can plausibly claim to represent the flower of young Canadian womanhood.

The trouble is, their titles are so similar that the opportunities for confusion are almost limitless. For the public, which isn’t inclined to delve deeply into the nuances of the beauty-contest industry, it’s practically impossible to tell which queen is which. Even the Toronto Star Weekly is confused. A recent article about the Miss Dominion of Canada pageant was headlined: “I WAS A JUDGE IN THE MISS CANADA CONTEST.” The error aggrieved Walter Pasko, one of the chief promoters of the $200,000 Miss Canada pageant. His lawyer dispatched several curt letters to the Weekly, and Pasko returned to brooding over a three-inch-thick pile of beauty-contest press clippings, he’s accumulated over the past year. Every third story, he says, got the two contests mixed up.

So which girl is Canada’s number one beauty queen? Pasko, naturally, plumps for Miss Canada. “Our girl represents Canada—period,” he says. “We feel that we’re a national organization, and that the Dominion crowd isn’t.” He’s partly right. The Miss Canada pageant is bigger, costlier, older, and seen by more people than its competitor. But it’s still fighting its way out of the red, and it isn’t pure, one-hundred-per-cent Canadian. The deficit for this year’s pageant, estimated at about $40,000, will be met through a loan from a Los Angeles TV producer named Tony Bell. And the company that Pasko hired to stage, choreograph and rehearse the three-day affair bears the resoundingly un-Canadian name of Marketing Concepts of New York, Inc. Finally, Pasko stresses that Miss Canada isn’t really a beauty queen at all, since .»he gets more marks for poise and talent than she does for appearance. “We’re not look-

MACLEAN’S REPORTS DECEMBER 14, 1964

ing for beautiful girls,” he says. “We’re looking for beautiful human beings. We don’t want a Liz Taylor—we want a Jackie Kennedy type of girl.”

The man behind Miss Dominion of Canada, John C. Bruno of Hamilton, is less concerned about the talents of the girls who enter his contest, as long as they look good in a Mountie costume. “We’re a straight beauty contest,” says Bruno. “No marks for talent at all.” His company, Canadian Beauty Spectaculars Limited, doesn’t choose Miss Dominion; this is done by the non-profit Niagara Falls pageant. But after she’s selected, Bruno owns her; and this year his company took in about $45,000 from product endorsations, franchises for a string of charm schools and sales of Miss Dominion of Canada cosmetics to charm-school students. Miss Dominion’s big advantage is that she represents Canada at the Miss World, Miss Universe and Miss International pageants. Bruno believes this gives her a clear edge on her competitor. “It’s just like the Olympics,” he says. Pasko (he runs Miss Canada, remember?) disagrees. “Using her title as a stepping stone to something else,” he says, “is a slur to Canadians.”

So far, the rivalry between the two pageants has been conducted on a fairly ladylike plane. But Pasko, a thirty-four-year-old Toronto bachelor, is becoming increasingly concerned about the confusion. Unless the press can somehow be persuaded to stop

mixing up the two contests, Pasko thinks he’ll have to ask Ottawa to clear up the confusion. This could mean an appeal to the Registrar of Trade Marks in Ottawa (who approved the Miss Canada trade marks in 1958, and Miss Dominion of Canada in 1960) and possibly a case before the Exchequer Court of Canada to revoke the Dominion trade mark. “We’re primarily concerned with eliminating confusion rather than with eliminating a rival,” says Pasko’s partner Tom Reynolds. “But first we’re appealing to the press to get the distinction straight.”

He’d better hurry. By next year, the confusion could be worse. Toronto PR man Bob Gray has launched an appeal in the Exchequer court because the registrar turned down his trade mark application. Gray’s project? The Mrs. Canada pageant. ALEXANDER ROSS