Pageant winner and ‘Today Girl’ Robin Ben dies at 87

Pageant winner and 'Today Girl' Robin Ben dies at 87

Robin Mele Gaudieri, who, as Robin Ben, was the winner of a beauty contest designed to promote beer in 1959 and later handled the fashion and beauty segments on the popular NBC-TV morning show “Today Girl” “As played traditional women’s roles. , died in Southampton, NY, on Long Island, on October 21. She was 87 years old.

Her daughter Lara McClanahan said the cause was breast cancer.

In 1959, it was chosen Miss Rhinegold, representing the most popular beer in the New York area at the time and also sold in Pennsylvania and throughout New England. She defeated five other finalists in the election, which the brewer said received 24 million votes.

As Miss Rhinegold, she received $50,000 (about $530,000 in today’s dollars) and spent a year performing in the United States and Europe. She also starred in newspaper advertisements in which she was seen in the kitchen during a party, at a barbecue outside, and in front of a Christmas tree, among other places.

An advertisement run at the beginning of her reign stated, “You’ll soon see Robin Bain almost everywhere, it’s such a charming reminder of the popular beer she represents – Rhinegold Extra Dry!”

In 2000, he recalled the qualities sought in Miss Rhinegold.

“It wasn’t a physical thing,” he told The Daily News of New York. “Individuality and integrity were very important. You have to look very natural to people sitting at the bar or going to the supermarket.

Barbara Jane Benn was born on August 10, 1936, in Flushing, Queens, and grew up in Bronxville, NY, in Westchester County. His father, James, was an executive at Mack Trucks. His mother, Margaret (Davison) Benn, was a housewife.

While pursuing a career as a model, Barbara appeared in commercials for Helena Rubinstein and Revlon. She was one of four women, called “Portraits”, who introduced Jackie Gleason on his television variety show, “The Jackie Gleason Show”, in 1956 and 1957. The following year, he graduated from Bradford Junior College with an associate degree. What later became Bradford College in Haverhill, Mass., where he studied psychology, art and theater.

Early in her career, she changed her first name to Robin to avoid confusion with actress Barbara Ben.

Ms. Benn was famous enough to be a panelist in 1961 “to tell the truth,” A game show whose objective was to find out who was real among three people claiming to be the same person. In one episode she was so good in each segment that another panelist, Betty White, joked, “I think Robin is disgusting.” In response, Ms. Benn lightly punched Ms. White on the shoulder.

In late August 1961, Ms. Benn joined NBC as the “Today Girl”, working with host John Chancellor and news anchor Frank Blair. It was a stereotypical female role that had previously been played by actresses Estelle Parsons, Lee Meriwether and Florence Henderson; Robert BendikThe “Today” show producers at the time devised it in 1959.

“A girl is necessary for the show,” he told The Associated Press. “You need a woman’s face to make things shine. And you also need a woman to have certain types of characteristics – fashion, beauty and to talk to certain guests.”

Before she became a major force in television news, Barbara Walters was a “Today Girl.” In her autobiography, “Audition: A Memoir” (2008), she compared the role to pouring tea and wrote that “Neanderthals” were assigned to cover “features designed for women.”

But Ms. Benn said she liked it. “I was the only woman on the set except the make-up woman,” She said during the “Today Girls” reunion On “Today” in 2012. And, Ms. McClanahan said: “The role morphed into co-host. She always felt like she was the leader in that sense.”

Ms. Benn left “Today” after only two months; The press speculated that she did not like the hours, but in fact she was pregnant with her first daughter, Dina.

His daughter, now known as Dina Nemeth, joked in a phone interview, “I ruined his career.”

Ms. Ben later became an interior designer.

In addition to her daughters, Ms. Bain is survived by her husband, Alexander Guadieri; a stepson, Alexandre Guadiri; and six grandchildren. Her marriage to Arno Scheffler ended in divorce. Her second husband, Edward Fair, died in 2003.

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