Leona Gage appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show on July 21, 1957, just days after having the Miss USA title stripped from her. Gage had won the contest representing the state of Maryland, but when pageant officials found out she was married and a mother of two children they revoked the crown. It was also soon revealed that Leona Gage was only 18 years old although she had said she was 21 when she entered the contest.
Shortly after news of the scandal broke Leona Gage was booked on The Ed Sullivan Show to explain why she had misled people. Ed Sullivan actually didn’t get the opportunity to interview Gage as he was away on vacation and the cigar smoking comedian Ernie Kovacs was filling in as host of that evening’s show. Kovacs introduced her husband, Sgt. Gene Ennis and questioned a contrite Gage who claimed “we needed the money.” Following her appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, Leona Gage pursued an acting career but had little success in show business.
Here is the video of Ernie Kovacs interviewing Leona Gage on The Ed Sullivan Show:
Leona Gage, born Mary Leona Gage, passed away on October 5, 2010 in Los Angeles due to heart failure. Here is a good New York Times article about Leona Gage.