Tuesday, September 1, 2015

And the winner of Miss American Vampire is ...

We're coming up on the 45th anniversary of the Miss American Vampire competition. Surprisingly, there's still some consternation on who actually took top honors the 1970 pageant. The two women most often cited as having won are Sacheen Littlefeather (best-know as the woman who represented Marlon Brando when he refused his Oscar for THE GODFATHER in 1973) and Christine Domaniecki, who nabbed a cameo appearance on an episode of DARK SHADOWS thanks to her involvement in the event.

Domaniecki in episode 1,126 of DARK SHADOWS, broadcast Oct. 19, 1970.
For the record: Sacheen Littlefeather was the national winner.

The Miss American Vampire competition was conducted in 1970 as a promotional tool for HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS (you can see a video ad for it at the top of the page). Regional contests were held around the country, but New York City and Los Angeles generated the most interest from competitors. Almost all of the documentary evidence circulating the Internet these days comes from the New York regional contest, which took place at Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey in September, 1970. Jonathan Frid was on hand to crown the winner.

Christine Domaniecki gets into character,
Domaniecki was the winner of the New York regional event. She and eight regional winners (among them Barbara Marciel, Diane Kirby, Nina Johns, Signe Vernon and Beverly Rose) later traveled to Los Angeles for the national finals, where Littlefeather (aka Marie Cruz) won top honors. DARK SHADOWS cast member Nancy Barrett and cultural pestilence Regis Philbin were among the judges.

I don't think any of the women involved in the pageant lost any sleep over who won the pageant. While Littlefeather technically took home the title, history has declared Domaniecki the true winner of the event. Hers is the name most often associated with stories about it, and she appears in the few photos from the campaign that remain in circulation. In fact, I've yet to see any photos from the pageant finals in Los Angeles.

Below are rare, candid images you might not have seen before of Frid, Domaniecki and Nancy Barrett taken during the New Jersey event. Note the "Miss American Teen" logo which features the odd inclusion of Captain America's shield as part of the design.

These color photos are courtesy of Elena Nacanther, who is part of an effort to get Jonathan Frid nominated to Canada's Walk of Fame. You can see more photos from her group HERE.

This past summer, Domaniecki was a guest at a DARK SHADOWS gathering of fans in Norwalk, Connecticut. That's her above with fans Gene Caruso and David Caruso. 

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