Although she won the applause of the Nation in 1944 when she was crowned Miss America, Venus Ramey won the hearts of American gun owners just recently when she demonstrated that a firearm in the hands of a law-abiding 82-year-old woman can be used to fight crime.
In nominating Venus Ramey as CCRKBA Gun Rights Defender of the Month for June, John M. Snyder, CCRKBA Public Affairs Director, said that “her action in late April, and her straight forward defense of the action demonstrated for the whole country to observe the truth that guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens, including law-abiding elderly women, can be and are used to prevent, deter or interrupt crime. In this particular situation, our former Miss America demonstrated that, with the use of a gun, you don’t necessarily even have to cause physical harm to stop a crime. She certainly is most deserving of this Award.”
As the Associated Press reported from Waynesburg, Kentucky, “Miss America 1944 has a talent that likely has never appeared on a beauty pageant page: She fired a handgun to shoot out a vehicle’s tires and stop an intruder.”
She confronted a man on her farm in south-central Kentucky after she saw her dog run into a storage building where thieves some time before had stolen her old farm equipment.
Ramey reportedly said the man told her he would leave. “I said, ‘Oh, no you won’t,’ and I shot their tires so they wouldn’t leave,” she said.
She had to balance on her walker as she pulled out a snub-nose .39 caliber handgun.
“I didn’t even think twice. I just went and did it,” Ramey said. “If they’d even dared come close to me, they’d be six feet under by now.”
Ramey then flagged down a motorist, who called 911.
Curtis Parrish, of Ohio, was charged with misdemeanor trespassing, Deputy Dan Gilliam said. According to an AP report, the man’s hometown wasn’t available. Three other people were questioned but were not arrested.
According to the Miss America Pageant website, Venus Ramey represented the District of Columbia when she competed in the Miss America contest. She had left her native Kentucky after serving as a page in the Kentucky House of Representatives in order to work for the war effort in the Nation’s Capital. “With her dancing, singing and comedic talents she became the first redheaded Miss America. Venus was also the first Miss America to be photographed in color.”
As Miss America, Venus Ramey got into show business. She performed in vaudeville as part of her pageant duties, but made sure she sold war bonds all along the way across the country. The United States Treasury Department presented her with a Special Citation for her efforts.
In her honor, her picture graced a B-17 “Flying Fortress” in World War Two. The plane made 68 sorties over war-torn Germany and never lost a man, according to an Associated Press article of the time noted by the Miss America Pageant.
During her tenure as Miss America, Venus Ramey worked with the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives promoting suffrage bills for Washington, D.C. in 1945. The measure was enacted and signed by the President.
A Hollywood movie producer, Milton Sperling of Warner Brothers Studio, tried to sign Venus for a major Hollywood film in 1947. The young lady, however, decided to give up show business. She returned home to her Kentucky farm, which she maintained for over 50 years. She married and began raising her two sons.
With Kentucky educational issues and a burning desire to see the word “illegitimate” eradicated from the birth certificates of innocent children as a major issue, Venus ran for a seat in the Kentucky House of Representatives, thus becoming the first Miss America to run for public office. Later, she hosted her own radio show and published her own political newspaper.
In the 1970s, Venus received an Ohio real estate license to save a Cincinnati District called Over-The-Rhine, a four square mile area full of 19th Century Germanic and Italianate buildings. Her efforts resulted in a full-page story in the Cincinnati Post, and subsequently led to a bid for a seat on the Cincinnati City Council.
She lost the election but won her battle, as Over-The-Rhine eventually was listed on the U.S. Registry of Historic Places, the largest group of buildings on the list in the country.
In 1990, Venus Ramey returned to Kentucky to live on her farm.