... actress and queen

Throughout the years the beauty found in White Plains has gained national recognition. Not for its landscape, but for the beauty and talent of its local ladies -- acclaimed nationally 60-some years apart. Addie McPhail, a White Plains native, was a well-known Hollywood actress in the '20s and '30s. The town's most recent claim to fame was last year's Miss Kentucky, Mitzi Jones, who went on to compete in the Miss America Pageant in Texas.
Addie was the daughter of Van and Cordelia Dukes. The Dukes family was well-known in White Plains for many years. The remaining members of the family moved away from the area several years ago, but some distant relatives still make their homes in the area. Young Addie went to school in Madisonville and Providence and gave her first performance on the stage of the First Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Madisonville. Addie moved to Chicago with her family when she was 13. She won several stage contests in Chicago and by the time she graduated from high school she had decided she wanted to be an actress. Addie married pianist Lindsey McPhail and two years later they had a daughter, Marilyn. A short time later she moved to Hollywood, where she quickly found success as an extra in several movies. But, her big break came when the studio she had been working with offered her the leading role in"The Newlyweds and Their Baby." "The Newlyweds" became a series and Addie found time to act in the "Winnie Winkle" series. Addie landed a role in her first talking picture, "The New Bankroll," in the late '20s. Shortly thereafter she and her husband either separated or he died, no one is exactly sure which, and she and Fatty Arbuckle became "an item." Addie did mostly light comedy and Arbuckle, who is probably best known as one of the Keystone Cops, directed several of her later films. She starred in pictures for Twentieth Century Fox, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and United Artists, just to name a few. She made a name for herself in such fils as "Body and Soul" and "Cosair" and a film called "Girls Demand Excitement," that also starred John Wayne. Arbuckle died in 1933 and shortly after Addie married again, this time to a man who was not involved in show business and she retired from acting. They made their home in Canoga Park, Calif., where Addie lives today.
While Addie was enjoying her golden years in California, Mitzi Jones was in White Plains preparing for a myriad of competitions that would eventually lead her to the honor of representing Kentucky in the 1995 Miss America Pageant. Mitzi began her career on the stage when she was only 4 years old. Dancing lessons turned her on to a love for performing for others. She never missed a chance to take to the stage and entertain. A couple of years later Mitzi and her sister Mia began competing in various children's pageants. The two sisters competed all over the South. Mitzi and Mia's parents were always at every competition cheering them on. "Competing in all the competitions was just a really great thing to do as a family," Mitzi said. As Mitzi got older she entered the Miss Hopkins County Fair Pageant and went on to compete in several other county fairs in the area. While attending college at Murray State, Mitzi was nominated by the Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority to compete in the school's annual Miss MSU Pageant. She became Miss MSU 1991 and went on to four more years of competitions, eventually earning the title of Miss Kentucky USA the right to compete in the Miss America Pageant in South Padre Island, Tex. Mitzi spent countless hours preparing for that pageant. "Most people don't realize how much hard work goes into preparing for something like that," she said. She spent a great deal of her time exercising so that she would be in top physical condition as well as hours working with a designer to get her evening gown to fit perfectly. She took advantage of every opportunity she had to do public speaking and took voice lessons from an acting coach in Nashville. Mitzi placed in the top 12 in the Miss America pageant that year. After she returned home she was contacted by two modeling and acting agencies and immediately signed with them. She was also hired by the Hopkins County Board of Education as a motivational speaker. Mitzi also went to a couple of auditions for country music videos in Nashville, but found that they "just weren't her cup of tea." Recently married, Mitzi is enjoying her time away from the pageant circuit. She still makes appearances at civic organizations and clubs -- she is often asked to speak at clubs and meetings to address issues such as self-confidence and how to be a better person. Mitzi teaches pre-school and that means spending a lot of time working with children, something she claims she enjoys every minute. "I think people are surprised that I didn't go on to do something in the entertainment field," she said. "They don't expect to see me with (finger) paint all over my clothes." A life in the limelight was never what Mitzi wanted, though. She has always wanted to be a teacher. For Mitzi that goal, like so many others in her life, has been realized. "It was a lot of fun competing in the pageants," she said; "but, this (teaching) is my calling; this is what I was meant to do."

This feature story originally appeared in the The Messenger in the small towns section of their "Changing Face of Hopkins County" on September 6, 1996 and was written by Slone Hutchison, a summer intern from Murray State University working with The Messenger to gain practical news papering skills during her summer vacation.

My thanks to The Messenger for granting permission to publish on the Hopkins County, Kentucky KyGenWeb page.

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Nancy Trice
Hopkins Co, Ky
© 1997