Many girls come to Hollywood via the chorus line, with no dramatic experience but with impressive physical attributes. Another variation of that theme are the girls who landed in Hollywood via the beauty pageant route. They often have no dramatic background, but are young, nimble and beautiful. Evelyn Lovequist was one of these girls, and she experienced first-hand how unfortunate and ungrateful it was to be a pageant winner who came to Hollywood hoping for a career. Nobody took you seriously and you could amount to little more than an extra. Some broke the mold, the vast majority did not. Evelyn, for all her striving, never did break the mold. She did have, however, a successful secondary and career and ended up quite the businesswoman.
Evelyn Ellen Lovequist was born on March 30, 1931, in Chicago, Illinois, to Martin Lovequist and Helen Mackey. Her younger sister Myrna was born on March 9, 1939, in Chicago.
Her father, who was born in Sweden and emigrated to the US in the 1920s, was a manufacturer of tools for sewing machines and dies for sewing. He owned his very own company (Lovequist Inc.) and was well off. In his youth he was a keen amateur boxer. Her mother was born in Wisconsin and was a housewife.
The family moved to Los Angeles in the mid 1940s. Evelyn graduated from Hollywod high school in California, and became a serious contender on the beauty pageant scene. She won hundreds of titles, and she became Miss USA in 1950, and this netted her a contract with a movie studio.
Evelyn started her career in Two Tickets to Broadway, one of the thinner 1950s musicals. The plot: Janet Leigh, Gloria de Haven, and Ann Miller want to make it big in show-business, and decide to stage a show that they hope will be taken up by the Bob Crosby Show (brother of the better known Bing). Enter Tony Martin as the male love interest. It’s can’t compete with the cream de la crem of the genre, despite a good cast and not so bad music. Ah well!
She switched studios and appeared in more serious fare, The Las Vegas Story. While no master piece, it’s a late film noir worth watching for some good chemistry between the leads – Jane Russell, Victor Mature and Vincent Price. Neither was a top thespian, but all three have immense charisma and charm and they rub of each other deliciously well. The story is atypical love triangle with gangster thrown in, but as I said, nobody is going to watch it for the plot. Evelyn then appeared in Aaron Slick from Punkin Crick, a insipid, totally mediocre movie about a county bumpkin who lands in the great big city and of course, falls in a jam with gangsters and swindlers. People nowadays only watch it to see Dinah Shore in one of her “most embarrassing roles”- since I’m not a great fan, no reason to see it in fact.
Evelyn’s last movie under her contract ended up being Eight Iron Men, one of the few low-key war movie with little to no action and plenty of drama. The movie shows the relations between eight GIs stuck in a small town during WW2. They are all on the edge, mentally and physically, after fighting for what seems like an eternity. It’s a mature and serious movie, and there is nothing breezy and fleezy about it. The cast is made out of actors who, with the exception of Lee Marvin, never reached upper echelons of stardom – Arthur Franz, Dickie Moore, and Richar Kiley, but they are all good in their roles and make it work.
Evelyn took a hiatus from movie work, and returned only in 1955, with Son of Sinbad, a movie made for visual enjoyment and little more. Plot, acting, anything of depth – no sirree. But beautiful women, great costumes and other eye candy – yes please! The movie even gently spoof the sword-and-sandal genre, so ti does have at least a bit of depth (nothing much, mind you!).
Her last movie appearance was the Three Stooges short comedy skit, Hot Stuff. And that was that from Evelyn and the big screen. She did some theater work in the late 1960s, was a regular in Bob Cummings Show, appeared in a string of unknown TV series, and then retired from acting for good.
Evelyn married Warren Homer Smith on September 24, 1949, when she was only 18 years old. Warren was only a few year older, born on January 27, 1928 in Los Angeles, to Warren Smith and Mildred Miller. I could not find any information about Warren, so I have no idea what he did for a living and how did the two meet. The marriage was of brief duration – the next year, Evelyn competed to become Miss America, so she was quite probably divorced by then. Warren later married Audrey Blanche James on November 12, 1955, divorced her, and married Alayne L Harmon in 1980. He slips from view from then on.
Evelyn married her second husband, James Robert McClelland, on January 4, 1953. McClelland was born in 1926 in Ohio, to William McClelland and Marion Lamond. He moved to California ta some point and started working for her father’s firm, and that’s how they met. They settled in Los Angeles. Their son, James Martin McClelland, was born on November 7, 1954.
Evelyn was very dismissed of her career as a beauty queen later, when she became an actress. She claimed that nobody took beauty queens seriously, nobody even expected them to be anything but pretty faces. Her acting career was not helped but rather hampered by this. She liked the publicity a beauty queen got, but it lasted only a brief time and never amounted to much more. She claimed she would have done it differently is she could do it al over again, and go to drama school and the stage first, and then
Here is a short article about Evelyn from 1956:
Ever wonder what happens to the hopeful beauty after she becomes Miss America or loses to Miss Universe and packs her bathing suit and goes home? Well, everybody thinks they marry millionaire playboys and live happily ever after but some of them don’t, since it’s the fashion today to have brains as well as beauty. They’re doing things that require brains as well as beauty. Like Evelyn Lovequist. She was named Miss America in 1950 and she cashed in on her title to some extent by doing professional modeling and some acting. In Exclusive Club She’s a member of another exclusive club, the Bob Cummings Girls’ Club, which is a unique organization composed of beauties “second to none,” says Bob, who have appeared on his show. But acting and modeling are only a sideline with Evelyn. She has a profession that has nothing to do with show business and one that will last long after her professional beauty days are over. She’s a sales engineer. Of course, she got the job the easy way. She works for her dad. But that doesn’t stop her from being a real good sales engineer. She knows such uninteresting and unexciting things as schematic diagrams, cost indexes and variable condensers. She goes on the road representing Lovequist Engineering Co. of Van Nuys and she brings home the MISS AMERICA trophy for 1950 decorates modern desk of Evelyn Lovequist, singer, dancer, actress, model and tales engineer, and she accomplished it all with figures. wid world potato bacon, which in this case is the order that keeps the firm’s wheels turning. In Seattle recently, Evelyn had an appointment with the office manager of a local firm who got the surprise of his life when the expected “contact man” walked into his office complete with brief case and a breath-taking red knit outfit that didn’t do its wearer a bit of harm with her impressionable customer. In fact, it may have had some- in today’s busy world?
Orders invited on pettyskirt thing to do with her landing the desired contract. Evelyn is no girl to hide her natural talents under a bushel. When she goes on the road, she carries enough wardrobe changes and applies her make-up -as deftly as though she was about to walk on stage. Easy and Attractive “There’s just no use kidding ourselves,” she says. “Men are men, thank goodness, and there’s no use pretending that they aren’t impressionable. I always feel that it’s a good idea to make their work as easy and attractive as possible, and I choose my wardrobe with an eye to that end.” In addition to her professional and business life, Evelyn is a successful wife and mother. She’s married to James McClelland, who’s sales manager at the Lovequist plant, and the McClellands have a 2-year-old son James Jr. Jim and Evelyn are considering buying their own plane to expedite their coverage of business conferences and conventions in all parts of the country and Evelyn is taking flying lessons and will get her pilot’s license soon. We tried to figure out just how and why a professional beauty should be such a success in business and we think we have it. Figures! Whether they’re mathematical or physical, figures are the answer. Slide rule or bathing suit, it’s figures that bring success to a beauty who also has brains and who has time for the other kind.
Evelyn also always stressed out the importance to good posture and a ladylike carriage. In a Lydia Lane article from 1957, she claimed that it was her posture that won her the title of Miss USA – there were more beautiful women than her on the pageant, but she always stood straight as a pole and won her due.
Evelyn and James divorced sometime before 1960. Evelyn married her last husband, David J Levinson, on December 30, 1961. Levinson was born in 1916, making him a bit older than Evelyn. Little is known of the marriage. They were together until his death in 1993.
Evelyn Lovequist Levinson died on May 31, 1996 in Los Angeles, California.