Sharon Kay Ritchie Mullin
Class of 1954
Hall of Honor 2011
After graduating from Grand Island Senior High School, Sharon Kay Ritchie attended the Colorado Women’s College in Denver. Ritchie was elected president of her class, student chaplain and received the Laurice Carlin Most Outstanding Student Award. Ritchie was also chosen as freshman class beauty queen.
In 1955, Ritchie won the first ever Colorado Women’s College Campus Pageant and proceeded to compete in the Miss Colorado pageant in July of that year. Ritchie won the title of Miss Colorado and therefore a trip to Atlantic City that September to compete for the Miss America Crown.
At 18 years old, Ritchie was crowned Miss America 1956 with her high marks in several categories and her captivating dramatic presentation of the “Murder of Lidice.” During her year as Miss America, Ritchie was invited to Europe on an official visit sponsored by Philco International. Several grand balls were held in her honor, and she made many personal appearances.
Ritchie married singer/golfer Don Cherry and they had two sons, Shawn and Stephen. The couple divorced when the boys were small.
Ritchie had a successful career in theater and television where she made guest appearances in numerous game shows, sitcoms, and commercials. She also appeared in the productions of “Brigadoon,” “The Man,” the “Reluctant Debutante,” “Come Blow Your Horn” and “Sweet Charity” on stages in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Additionally in Chicago, Ritchie was nominated for the Sarah Siddons Best Actress Award for her role as the debutante. Over the years Ritchie worked with Joan Bennet, John Emery, Gwen Verdon, and the legendary Bob Fosse.
Ritchie then turned her attention to business, where she used her talents in drama and public speaking to become a corporate spokeswoman. She was the first woman to be elected as a trustee of the New York Boy Scouts.
Ritchie’s younger son, Stephen Cherry, was a limited partner for Cantor Fitzgerald in New York. Stephen perished during the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center where he worked on the 104th floor.
Ritchie and her husband Terry Mullin live in Los Angeles and Hawaii. They are benefactors of Stanford University and Pepperdine University. At the Malibu campus of Pepperdine, the Mullins have created and built “Mullin Town Square” as a memorial to their lost sons, Stephen Cherry and Tom and Russell Mullin, who both lost their battles with cancer. Ritchie has four grandchildren and continues to believe in the goodness of life and the power of positive thinking.