The year that World War II ended, and Allied forces liberated Holocaust prisoners at the Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps was the same year the first Jewish Miss America was crowned. Bess Myerson spent 1945 making public appearances, modeling evening wear, and speaking out for tolerance on behalf of the Anti-Defamation League. She was also turned away from a restricted country club because she was Jewish. Myerson went on to become New York City Commissioner of Consumer Affairs, breaking barriers for women in politics as she had done for Jews in the beauty pageant. In her book, Miss America 1945: Bess Myerson and the Year That Changed Our Lives, she recounts, with the help of author Susan Dwork, her exceptional life story. She'll talk about it today at 1 p.m. at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 11820 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines. Admission is free. Call 954-441-0444.
Playwright-composer Jonathan Larson died in his New York City apartment in the East Village of an aortic aneurysm just before the opening of his show, Rent. He was only 35 years old, but the musical encapsulates his life and that of the other edgy artist-types among whom he lived. The show, sort of an update of Puccini's opera La Boheme, follows a cast of avant-garde characters more interested in pursuing artistic careers than doing the nine-to-five thing. Consequently they're always short on money for rent. Despite the show's hundred-year-old source material, Rent is definitely a contemporary story, complete with rock-opera score, up-to-date sexual politics, and characters dealing with the fallout from AIDS. The show, which has already racked up major theater awards, including a 1996 Tony Award for Best Musical, continues its run at the Broward Center For the Performing Arts (201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale) through January 17. Evening performances continue through Sunday at 8 p.m.; matinees continue Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2 p.m. Ticket prices range from $20 to $55. Call 954-462-0222.