Here are some of the controversies in the Miss Universe pageant collected to us by Joyce Lamela. This was sent to me by a reader.
Miss Universe, just like any other prestigious event and contest, is mixed with great anticipation and intrigues. Here, the author listed several controversies that happened in one of the oldest beauty pageant in the world.
MIRIAM STEVENSON OF USA (1954)-was the first Miss USA winner of the Miss Universe title in 1954. There it happen the first controversy of the pageant. Miriam tied with Miss Brazil’s Martha Rocha, the organizers decided to break the tie through the pageant’s major sponsor-the Catalina Swimwear, eventually the judging boiled down to who has the greater body. The votes favored Miriam Stevenson, because according to reports, she had the fitter hips compared to Miss Brazil.
GLADYS ZENDER OF PERU(1957)-born on October 1939, Gladys made history as the first Latin woman to win the prestigious Miss Universe title, but she was controversial because of her age. Few months after the pageant, it was revealed that the Peruvian beauty queen was only 17 years old, a year younger than the minimum age requirement of the pageant (18). The pageant organizers however was quick to defend that in Peru a person is considered one year older than their age after 6 months of their actual birthday. She was not dethroned however. She married Antonio Meier in 1965 and had 4 children together. Gladys Zender, the youngest Miss Universe winner ever, chose to live a quiet life away from the glittery world of show business.
AMPARO MUÑOZ OF SPAIN (1974)- born on June 22, 1954 in Spain, Amparo was the only Miss Universe titlist from Spain. She won the title in 1974 in Manila, Philippines. Several months after she was crowned, she gave up her title to pursue a showbiz career. She did not replace by the pageant organizer and managed to keep her crown.
MARITZA SAYALERO OF VENEZUELA (1979)- born on Feb.16,1961 in Caracas, Venezuela, Maritza became the first Venezuelan to win the Miss Unverse title. When she was named Miss Venezuela, her first runner up Maria Fernanda Ramirez refused to accept the result, Ramirez’s family confronted the jury, nevertheless the title secured by Maritza. But another unfortunate event greeted the first few hours of her reign in Perth, Australia where the pageant was held, when the live telecast was over, the stage collapsed due to the presence of so many journalists taking her photos, several contestants were injured including Miss Brazil and Miss Turkey. The audience panicked but Maritza, with her tiara and sash on, had the presence of mind to save one contestant from a hole of the stage. She then went to New York City to serve her term and responded her role with determination to help charities. She married in 1981 to a Mexican tennis player Raul Ramirez and presently lived in Mexico
IRENE SAEZ CONDE OF VENEZUELA (1981)-born in December 13, 1961 was the only Miss Universe titlist who floated to the world of politics. In early 1990’s she served a two term as mayor in the municipality of Chacao, Venezuela. Her performance as mayor gained her a nationwide popularity that in 1997 she was considered a potential presidential candidate, but in the 1998 Venezuelan national election she lost to Hugo Chavez. She regained her political career in 1999 when she won the gubernatorial race in the province of Nueva Esparta but gave up her post in the late 2000 when she got married and moved to Florida, USA.
DAYANARA TORRES OF PUERTO RICO (1993)-born on October 28,1974 in Puerto Rico, Dayanara’s victory in the Miss Universe tilt attracted controversy because she did not win any of the 3 major categories in that pageant held in Mexico. She placed 4th in the question & answer portion, fifth in both swimsuit and evening gown competition, nevertheless, Dayanara proved her worth on the crown, during her reign, she worked endlessly on various charities, she became an ambassador of UNICEF helping underprivileged children through out the world. After her reign, she established a foundation which provided scholarships to children. She lived for five years in the Philippines where she became a well-known TV host, actress and model. After her stint in Philippine television, she moved to Puerto Rico and to the US and started a singing and acting career, she married Latin singer Marc Anthony on May 9, 2000 where she had 2 sons, but on October 2003, they announced the sad news of separation and divorced a year after. Currently, Dayanara is dating American actor Amaury Nolasco. Her ex-husband Marc Anthony married Jennifer Lopez whom he had twins.
SUSHMITA SEN OF INDIA (1994)- born on November 19, 1975 in West Bengal, India, is the daughter of Indian Air force wing commander Shubeer Sen and Subhra Sen, a fashion artist and jewelry designer. In May 10, 1994, Sushmita became the first Indian to win the Miss Unverse title in Manila, Philippnes. The pageant result at first, did not suits well to the fame craze Pinoy audience who favored the Venezuelan bet Minorka Mercado, a towering 6’2 varsity player in volleyball. Sushmita, who was a dark horse during the contest, did not win the crowd’s admiration with her not-so elegant gown and appearance, even in the fearless forecast before the actual show she failed to capture the public’s fantasy, whose favorites were Kristelle Rolandt of Belgium, Areeya Chumsai of Thailand, Minorka Mercado of Venezuela and the home bet Charlene Gonzales. Sushmita only emerged 3rd during the interview portion and fourth on the swimsuit and evening gown competitions. But she impressed the 8 panel of judges, including the hairstylist of Princess Diana- Richard Dalton, with her unique poise, grace and intellect, her winning answer to the final question “What is the essence of being a woman” was inspiring that it became a household quotes among the Filipinos, she said: “A woman is a gift and it should be appreciated, she is the origin of life, therefore should be treated not as a mere sexual object but as an important human being”. After her reign, she joined Bollywood showbiz in India and became a famous actress. At 34, Sushmita Sen, however, is still single but adopted a girl in 2000 whom she named Renee.
ALICIA MACHADO OF VENEZUELA (1996)-born on December 6, 1976 in Maracay, Venezuela, Alicia almost lost her title when she gained too much weight during her reign. As Miss Universe, she was expected to stay fit and trim as she would represent the Miss Universe Organization with glamour and grace. Though Alicia is one of the most beautiful Miss Universe winners ever, she looked haggard and worn out when she ballooned beyond limit. The Miss Universe organization was considering of replacing her with her first runner up Taryn Mansell of Aruba, Alicia, pressured by her title and responsibilities tried hard to loss weight. In the end, she managed to shed off extra pounds and kept her crown. The pageant owner, American billionaire Donald Trump, slighted her with the dismissive title “an eating machine” in the 1997 promotion of the next Miss Universe pageant. After her reign, she made showbiz her lifetime career, debuting on Venezuelan soap opera as “Samantha”, the telenovela, which was shown in Philippine television GMA channel in 2000, was an instant hit. In February 2006, Alicia generated another controversy when she appeared in the Mexican issue of Playboy magazine as centerfold, making her as the only Miss Universe titlist to pose nude for playboy. She got married and gave birth to a daughter last June 2008.
DENISE MARIE QUIÑONEZ OF PUERTO RICO (2001)-born on September 9, 1980 at Ponce, Puerto Rico. She was the first Miss Universe winner to win at home, which gave rise to rumors “ home court decision”. In Miss Universe history, no pageant host country wins the title. Denise bested more than 80 delegates including the crowd favorite (and my favorite too) Greek model Evelina Papantoniou whom journalists regarded as a deserving winner. Denise pursued a movie career after her term.
OXANA FEDOROVA OF RUSSIA (2002)- born on December 17, 1977 in Russia, Oxana is the daughter of a Russian nuclear physicist whom she did not meet, her parents separated when she was 3 years old and she never heard from her father since then. Oxana became the first Russian to be crowned Miss Universe in the 2002 pageant held in Puerto Rico. She graduated from Russia’s Police Academy and became a police officer, later on, she enrolled at the Russian Ministry of Internal affairs University to become an investigator, she also worked as a fashion model. In 2001 she easily won the Miss Russia title but declined to represent Russia in Miss Universe 2001 for unknown reasons, but in 2002 she went on to join the pageant, her glamorous physique made her an event favorite and scored high in three major categories, according to the official tally of scores, she earned an almost perfect score of 9.88 in the swimsuit portion, making her as the only candidate with a highest score for that event in the history of the pageant. But several months after her victory, Oxana was dethroned by Miss Universe organizers for her failures to function on her responsibilities as Miss Universe. In her interview, she denied rumors of pregnancy. She was the only official title holder of Miss Universe who was dethroned and the organization did not recognized her as “former Miss Universe winner”, she was replaced by her first runner up, Justine Pasek of Panama.