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Beauties Barely Out of Spotlight

--Beauty, usually confined to the eye of the beholder, was hard to miss last weekend. In Atlantic City, N.J., a Swedish miss with classical airs took the plunge as America’s new sweetheart and in North Dakota, a Shoshone beauty took on the mantle of Miss Indian America. But it was a miss in Lesotho, Africa, where they canceled the Miss Nude contest because of the papal visit. The beauty of it all for Miss America Gretchen Elizabeth Carlson, who frolicked in the Atlantic in the traditional post-pageant photo opportunity a day after her crowning, was that she used to be the fat teen-ager who couldn’t get a date: “When I was fat they used to call me ‘Blimpo,’ ” the former Miss Minnesota recalled. “I wanted to go out with a star basketball player and he said, ‘Well, she’s such a nice girl but she’s just a little too plump.’ Then I . . . lost all this weight and he wanted to go out with me and I said, ‘No.’ ” Carlson, 23, who has 17 years of violin training, charmed the judges with a rendition of the classical “Gypsy Airs.” In Bismarck, N.D., Bobette Wildcat made her debut as Miss Indian America with a court composed of Arizonan Theresa Benally, a Navajo; Lona Ponds, a Umatilla from Oklahoma, and Dawn Brave Eagle, an Oglala from South Dakota. In Maseru, Lesotho, where Pope John Paul II is scheduled to visit this week, officials postponed the annual Miss Nude contest after officials determined that “the man of cloth and women without clothes don’t mix,” contest organizer Solly Chesno said.

--It wasn’t easy gift-wrapping the $150,000 bulletproof Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL, but former Philippines President Ferdinand E. Marcos, who has been in ill health, reportedly was considerably cheered by the gift from his supporters on the occasion of his 71st birthday Sunday. More than 5,000 people were invited to the birthday bash in Honolulu, where Marcos and his wife, Imelda, have been living since he was deposed as the islands nation’s leader in February, 1986.

--Another birthday celebrant used the occasion to set out on a record cross-country flight that he had been prohibited from making because of his age. Federal regulations ban solo flights until the age of 16, so it was a red-letter day for Thad Mitchell when he turned 16 on Saturday. The Pensacola, Fla., teen-ager promptly set out in a single-engine Mooney 201 from San Diego, landing Sunday in Jacksonville, Fla., just under 24 hours later. Younger pilots have flown across the country, but always with instructors. Mitchell became the first pilot of any age to make his first solo flight a transcontinental trip, according to the National Aeronautics Assn.


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