Valentine Vixen — Nancy Jo Hooper, Miss February 1964

The lovely and talented Nancy Jo Hooper was, in addition to being a born model and Playboy‘s Miss February 1964, several other “Misses” as well. We will get there.

Photographed by Pompeo Posar.

I say she was a born model because she knows what she is supposed to be selling here — but, like any good model, she is “selling” it by dint of excellent effort, and not necessarily because she “feels” it.

Though she oozes that kind of satisfied, curvy, cat-like sexuality that made Sophia Loren and Elizabeth Taylor famous, Pompeo Posar said in the Playmate Book that, when he asked Nancy to give him a pose that was “a little more sexy,” she responded immediately, “But I don’t know anything about sex!” a disarmingly nervous and virginal response from a practical woman with some chutzpah and a good gift for acting, but a more bookish actual personality.

From the heart of the old Confederacy we recently received a pair of candid snapshots and a few hopeful words, enticing enough for us to send a staffer to Savannah to meet Nancy Jo Hooper, the walnut-haired 20-year-old who was to become this February’s Playmate. Hazel-eyed Nancy Jo has lived all her life with her parents and younger sister in the same Georgia town, so small that she asked us not to name it, because if six visitors arrived at once they’d cause a traffic jam. (“Georgia Peach.” Playboy, February 1964.)

Actually, I’m pretty sure that is bullshit and she was from Spartanburg, South Carolina. The small-town thing is true, but the Georgia part is a smokescreen, just like the name she is modeling under — it’s similar enough to her real facts to have the ring of truth, but is not quite the truth itself. Understandable subterfuge in a person trying to make a national name for herself under her real name. But I’ll get to there.

Now a telephone-company employee, this Southern bell ringer previously clerked in a drugstore, there heard Playboy purchasers tell her she was Playmate material herself.

Discarding daydreams of discovery, she took the initiative by sending us snapshots of herself, because, as she explained in a caramel drawl, “It occurred to me that no one from Playboy would ever find me here on his own.” (Ibid.)

Nancy Jo’s flight to Chicago for test shots marked her first airplane trip, and her first visit to any city besides Savannah. Soft-mannered, soft-spoken and shy (“I really enjoy walking alone in the park”), well-read Nancy Jo offers the sort of attractions that could once more set armies marching through Georgia. (Ibid.)

Also they would march to a second Civil War because of Nancy’s controversial positions on state’s rights and slave ownership. (Joke. I just thought the write-up got a little overreaching there.)

AMBITIONS: To become a wife and mother.
TURN-ONS: Shoes of all kinds.
TURNOFFS: Insincerity, rudeness.
I LOVE BEING A PLAYMATE: Because I’ll look back on it as an important experience of my youth.

(Playmate data sheet)

PLAY ME SOME: Louis Armstrong, Al Hirt.
GREAT FLICKS: “Jane Eyre,” “Wuthering Heights.”
THEY SAY I RESEMBLE: Sophia Loren. Do you think?

Always a fan of a Brontë-loving girl. And Satchmo, too? Right on! And yes. She looks like Sophia Loren. Keep that in mind as I go on, here. Because it comes up again.

Okay, so in a search for Nancy Jo Hooper, I ran across a post at “If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger (There’d be a lot of dead copycats),” to which I already link in my blogroll but I’m happy to provide a specific post link here. It was a critique of the lovely lighting and photography done in her spread.

A gentleman commented to that post that he was looking for Nancy for a class reunion. He said her real name was Nancy Ann Harrison, and she was from Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Now, if you’ve been following the comments today, you’ll see I was way off base about thinking I’d turned up the modern incarnation of a former Playmate, although I am happy to report about it because I stand by being pleased to have discovered the work of the nonetheless wonderful Ms. L. F. (at whose request posts pertaining to her have been removed.) Sure, it ended up good because I got to read some new stuff and learn some new ideas, but I was understandably gun-shy about turning up a false lead again.

Being wrong is cool and it’s important because we are forced outside our comfort zones, given the opportunity to uncover something new and to show humility and the ability to learn from our mistakes, but, cheeseballs! I don’t want to always be the chump ringing in my buzzer only to stammer out the “incorrect” answer — being right sometimes is nice too.

So, I dug as hard as I could this time, much more strictly with myself than last time. And I turned up the following clipping from the Spartanburg, South Carolina Herald-Journal, an article dated July 8, 1962.

Yeah, she is the same girl, and yep, she still looks like Sophia — although the weight they give in the article is heavier than the one she listed two years later in Playboy. Either she went on a diet or the same fact-wrangler that invented her alternate name for her Playboy appearance also took liberties with her already-admirable figure.

Ms. Harrison placed as second runner-up in the Miss Dixie pageant; first place was Rita Wilson of Humbold, Tennessee (center in the above picture), and first runner-up was Susan Woodall of Weldon, North Carolina. There were twenty girls who competed altogether in the 1962 Miss Dixie pageant.

If you are like me and have been forced in your life, often against your will, to take your pageants seriously, or even if you are lucky enough to be unlike me and have never accidentally called the city of Patterson “a shithole” into an open mic during the Miss Apricot Fiesta competition, you may still be interested to read a little run-down of the Miss Dixie pageant rules.

Via the amazing Pageantopolis:

Miss Dixie (“Queen of the South”)

This southern states regional pageant was held annually during the Fourth of July holiday in Daytona Beach (FL) since 1946. It was held by the Daytona Beach Chamber of Commerce. It seemed to have been discontinued in 1968.

To be eligible for the Miss Dixie contest, the girls had to have placed first or second in another major contest and be from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas or the District of Columbia.

They must be unmarried & between the ages of 17 and 26. Eligible Southern beauties had until June 18 (2 weeks prior) to file their applications. From 1957 onwards, the first 20 successful applications were accepted for the pageant. There were a Top 7, from which the Top 3 were announced.

Each contestant was judged on five qualities: intellect (5%), personality (10%), appearance in evening gown (15%), talent (30%), and appearance in swim suit (30%). The judges each picked the girls they rated from first to seventh in each classification of competition. The girl with the highest cumulative point score became Miss Dixie. (source)

Nancy qualified to enter the Miss Dixie contest by earning the title of Miss Sun Fun South Carolina, a pageant held at Myrtle Beach. She came in second in the national competition about a month before the Miss Dixie pageant, on June 9, 1962 — the winner was Ginger Poitevint of Huntsville, Alabama. Nancy made an impressive showing at the Miss Sun Fun USA contest; besides being first runner-up in the pageant as a whole, she also took top honors in the Swimsuit and Photogenic categories.

As they are rather obviously the same gal, I can only conjecture that all that pretty airy nonsense about Georgia was malarkey the same way Nancy’s name was, although it’s easy to see how they came up with it. I assume the strategy went, keep the first name, Nancy, because it is common and easy enough to keep track of, then use Jo (like Jo-Ann) instead of Ann, though as far as Harrison instead of Hooper — actually, that one I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine. I’m out of gas on thinking I knew how this went!

Dig the little trumpet hand puppet — super-cute. I would like to as a final grateful thought link once more to Pageantopolis , without which most of this post would’ve been boring and impossible, and the site is really great and tons of fun — I think I am going to have to start featuring more links to the work and online scrapbook of the very fun Donald West. Thanks!

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11 Responses to “Valentine Vixen — Nancy Jo Hooper, Miss February 1964”

  1. Happiness Bastard Says:

    In case you missed it Nancy Ann Harrison is also in the original 2000 Maniacs. Her role made me marry a southern girl.

  2. Sandy Says:

    I was cleaning out some old stuff today and came across my February 1964 Playboy. I kept it because Nancy and I went to high school together and worked at the telephone company while in college. I would love to know wher she is now and how she is doing. Boy, that was a big deal in Spartanburg back in thise days.

    • wink windsor Says:

      Sandy she may be deceased. lists a Nancy Ann Harrison Fisk who was born July 17, 1943 in Spartanburg. The grave is in Charleston, S.C. If it is the same person she died Nov 15 , 2012. Again this may not be her but the name, age and place of birth are close.

      • MadTom Says:

        I’m saddened to hear this. The date of birth is an exact match to her Playmate Data Sheet, and the Find-a-Grave obituary lists a sister named Doris, who was included in Nancy’s Playmate pictorial. Rest in Peace and God bless, Nancy. You’re right at the top of my list of favorite Playmates. I would have loved to have chatted with you in the Playboy Cyber club chatroom back in the days when they had online chats with past and present Playmates.

        • wink windsor Says:

          No mention was made of a husband in her obituary. She did have children. I looked up her address and she was not living in an affluent area of Charleston. In fact it may have been HUD type apartments. I don’t believe Nancy cashed in on her moment of fame. She was an exceptionally beautiful woman.

  3. Dano Says:

    A pictorial In the Aug. 2010 Playboy features ‘Mad Men’ actress Christa Flanagan In very innocent early-’60s style, recreating a couple of Nancy’s poses. Thought you should know for a Showdown! maybe.

  4. Dano Says:

    Almost forgot to mention – if that sitting-on-the-bed pose (second photo from top) is from the 1964 pictorial, it may be historic — the first glimpse of pubic hair in Playboy. The magazine’s website even had a recent feature called ‘Waxing Nostalgic’ revisiting the era when its models were natural women and the delta of Venus was respected in the assessment of female beauty. . . Cheers to you for your wonderful and thoughtful blog — and to Nancy Jo!

    • E. Says:

      Thanks for the heads-up, Dano!

    • MadTom Says:

      “Almost forgot to mention – if that sitting-on-the-bed pose (second photo from top) is from the 1964 pictorial, it may be historic — the first glimpse of pubic hair in Playboy.”

      No, it wasn’t in the 1964 pictorial. It’s an out-take which was published in the Playboy Cyber Club when it went online in 1997. It wasn’t until around 1967 that Playboy started including other nudes besides the centerfold itself in the Playmate of the Month layouts; the first appearance of pubic hair in Playboy was in a layout of dancer-actress Paula Kelly in 1969; the first appearance of pubic hair in a Playmate layout was in a barely noticeable non-centerfold shot of Miss February 1970 Linda Forsythe, and the first appearance of pubic hair in the centerfold itself was with Miss January 1971 Liv Lindeland.

  5. Liana Jo H. Says:

    No matter what her name was, I still love the Nancy Jo Hooper name (same middle name as me!). It has a better ring to it. She is gorgeous. I look like her too! My hair is shorter though, but we have the same complexion, haircolor, & breast size. I think she’s my favorite now.

  6. charles hatchette Says:

    Nancy and I always sat one desk apart in high school and at Spartanburg Junior College since our last names were similar. She was Harri… and I was Hatch….. Nancy had a generous soul. Her smile was constant. She was shy. She was innocent. Her manners were impeccable. She was a little girl who never fit into the world stage. She had pride. She had dignity. She was smart. She downplayed her beauty and physical assets. I’m not so sure her Playboy experience was of her choosing. Her family may have encouraged her in this endeavor. Nancy, my friend, may God take care of the gentle souI I knew in high school and in college. Love You. Charles – Spartanburg, SC

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