Marjorie Wallace

For the writer and charity worker, see Marjorie Wallace (SANE).

Marjorie Wallace (born January 23, 1954) is an American actress, TV Host, model, and beauty queen. In 1973, she made history as the first woman from the United States to be crowned Miss World, but just 104 days later, pageant officials announced she would be the first Miss World to have her title taken from her. Years later, she helped launch the television program Entertainment Tonight as an original co-host.

Early life

Wallace was born in Indianapolis, Indiana where her family ran an industrial supply business and raised her in the suburbs, she told People magazine. With a population of about 740,000 in 1970, "dancing at the Holiday Inn was the biggest thing in town," she joked.

When she was 14, her parents divorced and Wallace was already showing her wild side. Once she suddenly went on a 1,200-mile road trip with a friend to Miami, Florida. But her teen years also included typical high school pursuits, such as competitive swimming and cheerleading, according to the magazine. Men began to play a larger role in her life. At age 17, she moved in with a guitarist in the Indy rock band "Pure Funk."[1]

"My mother always says that if I ever have a daughter, I deserve to have one like myself," she said in 1976.[2]

Wallace also began traveling the 180 miles between Indianapolis and Chicago, Illinois, to work as a model. A modeling agent pushed her to enter the Miss Indiana World and Miss World USA beauty pageants, which she won, opening the door to the 1973 Miss World contest in London.[3]

Win and loss of Miss World title

On November 23, 1973, Wallace defeated 53 competitors at Royal Albert Hall in London as the first American to be crowned Miss World.

During her time in the UK, she dated celebrities including Welsh singer Tom Jones, Northern Irish football star George Best, and American Indianapolis 500 and Formula One driver Peter Revson, with whom she was reportedly engaged to be married. During her engagement to Revson, she carried on an affair with Tom Jones, being seen kissing him on a beach in Barbados. This violated Wallace's Miss World contract, which prompted pageant authorities to take away her title on March 7, 1974, 104 days after she was crowned.[4] Contest officials announced that Wallace "had failed to fulfill the basic requirements of the job."[5]

First runner-up, Evangeline Pascual of the Philippines, was offered to fulfill the duties left by the winner (without the title and the crown) but refused. The second runner-up, Patsy Yuen of Jamaica, accepted the offer to complete the Miss World duties without being officially crowned as Miss World.[6]

Death of Peter Revson

Fifteen days after Wallace was stripped of her crown, Peter Revson was killed in a fiery crash on March 22, 1974 while practicing for the South African Grand Prix in Johannesburg. He died en route to a hospital and was wearing a gold locket Wallace had given him bearing the engraving, "If not for you ..." [7] Wallace attended Revson's closed-casket funeral at Manhattan's Unitarian Church of All Souls.[8]


Less than three months later, Wallace was rushed to St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital after her sister, Nancy, found her unconscious in her apartment, apparently from an overdose of the sleeping pill Doriden. A doctor stated that Wallace was "comatose, and in pretty bad shape." She was put on a dialysis machine to clear her kidneys.[9]

Wallace's mother Alice stated, "She might have felt like she couldn't go on",[10] however, Wallace herself said two years later, "I was depressed and OD'd on a few too many sleeping pills. I never attempted suicide." [11]

Television career

Wallace won television acting roles on some of the top shows of the 1970s, including Baretta with Robert Blake and Get Christie Love! with Teresa Graves. She also appeared as a panelist on the television game show, Match Game.[12]

By 1976, she moved into the Los Angeles apartment of tennis champion Jimmy Connors. "Marji (sic) and I don't even have to talk to each other if we don't feel like it," Connors reportedly said. "But I feel I have found someone to share the things I like, and that makes it all worthwhile." Connors, Wallace said, was "a fantastic person. A very different person off the court." [13]

The relationship with the tennis star did not last long. After the breakup, Wallace moved to New York where she auditioned for television sportscasting positions with ABC and CBS. She also appeared in television commercials for Ultra Brite toothpaste, Wella products and American Express.[14]

In the summer of 1977 she met film producer Michael Klein at a Beverly Hills party and they were married in May 1978. Klein's father was Eugene V. Klein, owner of the National Football League's San Diego Chargers. They had a son named Adam.[15]

In 1981, she became co-anchor on the television show, Entertainment Tonight. A few months later, producers decided to make a change, offering her a reporter position on the program, which she declined.

In 1982, her marriage to Klein ended in divorce. Soon after, newspapers reported she was dating Richard Cohen, the estranged husband of Tina Sinatra.[16] She later married and divorced real estate developer Donald Soffer.[17]


  1. Smilgis, Martha. Marjie & Her Men. People magazine, November 22, 1976, p. 34, line 44. Accessed September 2, 2011.
  2. Smilgis, Martha. "Margie & Her Men." People magazine, November 22, 1976, p 34, line 33. Accessed September 2, 2011.
  3. Smilgis, Martha. Marjie & Her Men. People magazine, November 22, 1976, p. 32, line 26. Accessed September 2, 2011.
  4. Smilgis, Martha. "Margie & Her Men." People magazine, November 22, 1976, p 34, line 10. Accessed September 2, 2011.
  5. Associated Press. "Britons Dethrone Indianapolis Girl as 'Miss World'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 8, 1974, p. 4, line 8. Accessed September 2, 2011.
  6. Accessed September 2, 2011.
  7. "'The Last Race for Peter Revson". People magazine, April 8, 1974, p. 11. line 46. Accessed September 2, 2011.
  8. United Press International. "The Bryan Times," Bryan, Ohio, "Revson Rites Are Held," March 29, 1974, p. 10. Accessed September 1, 2011
  9. Associated Press. Ex-Beauty Queen Suffers Overdose. "St. Petersburg Independent," St. Petersburg, Florida, June 5, 1974, p. 24A. Accessed September 1, 2011.
  10. Knight, Ben. Another Fad Arrives on Scene". "The Times Daily," Florence, Alabama, June 11, 1974, p. 4. Accessed September 1, 2011
  11. Smilgis, Martha. Marjie & Her Men. People magazine, November 22, 1976, p. 34, line 22. Accessed September 2, 2011.
  12. Internet Movie Database. Accessed September 1, 2011
  13. Merkin, Robert. Jimmy's a Big Boy Now,. The Miami News, June 25, 1976, p. 1B. Accessed September 1, 2011.
  14. Smilgis, Martha. Playgirl Marjie Wallace Meets Playboy Michael Klein. People magazine, January 29, 1979, Vol. 11. No. 4. Accessed September 1, 2011.
  15. Scott, Walter. Parade Magazine, Personality Parade. "The Spokesman-Review," Spokane, Washington, June 24, 1978. Accessed September 1, 2011.
  16. Martin, Jack. Garbo Tired of Being Alone?. "The Evening News," Newburgh, New York, Copley News Service, November 20, 1982, p. 3B. Accessed September 1, 2011.
  17. New York Daily News: "NO ROD AROUND THE CLOCK" April 8, 1996

External links

Preceded by
Host of Entertainment Tonight with Ron Hendren and Tom Hallick
Succeeded by
Ron Hendren and Dixie Whatley
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