When Miss Rheingold ruled New York City

Miss Harlem. Miss subways. Miss Brooklyn. The list of long-gone local beauty contests is filled with small-time titles and pageants. 

But one mattered so much to residents, it reportedly attracted almost as many city voters as a presidential election at the time did: Miss Rheingold.


A promotional jackpot for Brooklyn’s Rheingold Brewing Company, the Miss Rheingold pageant ran from 1941 to 1964. 

Every summer, grocery stores would be stocked with ballots featuring six finalists. The winner spent the following year on Rheingold billboards and in magazine ads. (Tippi Hendren, a 1953 finalist, above, didn’t snag the title.)

Miss Rheingold helped make the beer New York’s most popular in the 1950s and 1960s. Rheingold goes way back in the city; it opened in 1883 in Bushwick on the nabe’s famed “Brewers Row,” which earned its moniker because so many German-American beer companies began there.

Alas, they shut down in 1976, but the brand was revived in the 1990s. A new Miss Rheingold contest was also reinstated recently, but the contestants are all female bartenders.

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23 Responses to “When Miss Rheingold ruled New York City”

  1. Lidian Says:

    I don’t recognize the other names but Tippi Hedren would be (or was then, not sure) a Hitchcock actress and later on, the mother of Melanie Griffith, whose Working Girl would NOT have been on a poster like this.

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    I guess Tippi is years away from fame at this point. I think The Birds came out in the early 1960s.

  3. kdg Says:

    The Birds was 1963, but Mary Austin won the Miss Rheingold contest.

  4. wildnewyork Says:

    Thanks! They all have the same girl-next-door look, I wonder how she came out on top.

  5. Ruth Edebohls Says:

    Brings back memories. My parents owned a German Delicatessen in the South Slope and I must confess to stuffing the ballot box with my favorite when my parents weren’t looking. I thought that Nancy Woodruff won this one – or maybe she was my personal favorite. As a child, I always wanted to be either Miss Rheingold or Miss Subways!

    • leslie Clark Says:

      Dear Ruth Edebohls — I’m working on a documentary about the Miss Rheingold contest and I’d love to talk to you about your memories. You can contact me at leslie@flist.org Many thanks, Leslie

  6. PizzaBagel Says:

    Vote early, vote often, and vote inebriated!

  7. a shout out to old timey new york before i cheat on it with the pacific northwest « The Slow Gin Fizz Says:

    […] a shout out to old timey new york before i cheat on it with the pacific northwest October 19, 2009 Filed under: Lisa's Lists — theslowginfizz @ 3:56 am Tags: beauty contest, misanthrope, miss you much, nyc, old timey thought this was kinda cool:  https://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com/2009/10/17/new-york-citys-favorite-beauty-contest/ […]

  8. petey Says:

    “They all have the same girl-next-door look”
    oooooh i’d have to disagree, i don’t trust that helen ryan at all

  9. wildnewyork Says:

    Hmm, I hear you about Helen. But they all look like Stepford junior misses to me.

  10. CP Says:

    Anyone have info on Mia Darrow Miss Rhinegold 1958?

    Lists of the Miss Rhinegolds?


  11. Beauty queens of the New York City subway « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] another revival of Miss Subways should duke it out with a new version of Miss Rheingold, the beauty pageant that gripped New Yorkers in the 1940s and […]

  12. Studs Says:

    Was Pat Shalvey ( Moore ) A contestant on the Miss Reingold contest and also Audie Murphy’s wife was a Miss Subways ( Wanda Hendricks )

    Thank you
    Tommy Flanagan SHS class of 1947

    From Ogden ave.

  13. J obrien Says:

    Winner in 1953 Mary AUSTIN Alive and will living in Long Island

    • lclark@globalvillagemedia.org Says:

      I’m working on a documentary about the MISS RHEINGOLD contest. Do you know if Mary Austin is still alive and still living in Long Island? Could you give me any details that would help me find her?

  14. Donna killeen Says:

    She is the best mother-in-law ever and I pray for her everyday for she is very sick . She is a warm hearted woman

  15. Donna Killeen Says:

    I’m sorry to report that Mary Austin 1953 Miss Rheingold past away 6:38 pm March 16th 2012. She was 83 yrs old . Leaves behind 7 children and 7 grandchildren .

  16. Sheila Says:

    I have read that Grace Kelly was up for Miss Rheingold in either 1948 or 49 (possibly 1950 but I doubt it). I’m a G.K. collector and if anyone has pix or info about her bid I would LOVE to see it. Email me: dacogomeluv@gmail.com

  17. Who was crowned Miss Brooklyn in 1939? | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Brooklyn wasn’t the only beauty contest of the era. Miss Rheingold, running until 1964, may have been even more […]

  18. Paul Duca Says:

    Rheingold described the contest as “The nation’s second-largest election”

  19. Steffie Goshen Doyle Says:

    Wondering if Joan (Meryl)Tebbe is still in N.Y.C.

  20. Pam Says:

    My daddy has his pic with them

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