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jhbonline.net: 2007 in review

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Dear Friends…


I cannot believe it is Holiday time again… another year has come and gone! And what a year it has been!  Both of my siblings and I experienced major health issues. Hopefully, we’ll all be on the mend in 2008; and 2007 wasn’t all bad…


The Miss America finals returned to the Planet Hollywood resort and Mom & I returned as well. We enjoyed our Vegas excursion which included encounters with several former titleholders including Lee Meriwether (CA, 1955); Phyllis George (TX, 1971); Kellye Cash (TN, 1987); Carolyn Sapp (HI, 1992); Heather French (KY, 2000) Katie Harman (OR, 2002) and Erika Dunlap (FL, 2004) among others…


One of the most interesting, was our visit with Illinois’ Miss America 1997, Kate Shindle. I had never met Kate before, but we have had a few near misses in the past. I had always admired the work with HIV/AIDS patients that she began as Miss America; work she continues today. Since passing on the title, Kate has starred on Broadway in Jekyll & Hyde and Cabaret. Currently, She plays Vivienne Kensington in Legally Blonde: The Musical—a Broadway extravaganza based upon one of my favorite films! When she learned how much I love the movie, Kate insisted on sending me a poster from the show, autographed by the entire cast!


Thanks, Kate!  It was so sweet of you, and I loved the recent MTV broadcast of the show. Bravo to all! I hope to get to NYC to see the show live soon!


 Lauren Nelson was the second consecutive winner from Oklahoma. We have now attended Miss America 3 times, and each time Miss OK has won: Shawntel Smith (1996), Jennifer Berry (2006) and Lauren Nelson (2007). Tune in to see if the string is broken on January 26, 2008 when TLC (formerly the Learning Channel) airs MISS AMERICA LIVE! from Las Vegas’ Planet Hollywood resort. We plan to be there!



Miss USA 2007 was held at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, as it had been in 2004.

Just as in 2004, I predicted the winner, Rachel Smith, Miss Tennessee-USA. Of course, I had a bit of a head start. Mom and I were invited to have lunch with the contestants and Miss USA 2006, Tara Conner at Universal Studios, prior to the competition. Although the ladies were all great, when I met Rachel, I knew she had something special. Apparently the judges agreed. Watch the 2008 Miss USA pageant this Spring on NBC!


Miss Teen-USA 2007, Hilary Cruz of Colorado was crowned in Pasadena, CA in August.

Mom was thrilled to return to Pasadena (her birthplace) and re-visit the Civic Auditorium where she danced years earlier.

Many thanks to Paula Shugart, Rachel Frimer, Lark-Marie Anton, Esther Swan, Gail Holmes, Scott Grossman, Susie Dicker, Tami Farrell (Miss Teen-USA ’03), her Mom, Stephanie; Chelsea Cooley (Miss USA ’05), Rachel Smith, Riyo Mori (Miss Universe ’07), Katie Blair (Miss Teen-USA 2006) , Shawn Mc Clain  and everyone at the MUO for their help at these events; and even more for their friendship and support throughout this trying year!


A return trip to the Kodak Theatre brought event more excitement. Mom and I were thrilled to be in attendance, as our dear friend, Rick Hearst accepted the 2007 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. The Emmys are not new to Rick (This was his third win from seven nominations.); but it was a new experience for us! One that I will never forget, as Rick graciously stopped along the red carpet to say a warm hello. The next day at a party, Rick allowed me to hold his coveted prize. He did so, again, at his wonderful annual fan luncheon. By then my health problems had begun, so I want to thank Rick, his wife, Donna; his Mom, Ann; fan-club president, Debby O’ Connor and Rick’s GH cast-mates, Derk and Drew Cheetwood for putting up with me when I was not at my best!


No doubt, the highlight of 2007 was the adoption of our precious little girl, Shandi (named after Miss USA 2004, Shandi Finnessey). Our Shandi is half Shih-tsu, half Bichon-friese: known as a “Zu-chon”, “Bich-tsu” or “Teddy Bear”) She is all energy and love – that’s for sure!


Ours was a year of mixed blessings. It taught us to appreciate all we have and hope for the best for next year. We wish you peace, health and prosperity in 2008!


Happy Holidays,

Joonn, John and Shandi

The Baker Family





















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