By Julio Rodríguez Matute
A BIGGER DREAM.-
In 1955, the organizers of the Miss Universe contest, also owners of the Miss USA, and who were sending their First Runner-up to the Morley’s Miss World contest, contacted him to offer the rights of sending a Miss England to Miss Universe. The Butlin´s directors, who had acquired the rights in 1952, didn’t work properly and had not sent the British representative in the last two years. Morley gladly accepted!
Although he had an agreement with Morecambe and the Sunday Dispatch so that the British representative for the Miss World would be elected by them and he would not be directly related in the selection of their country’s representative for his world competition, Morley had created the Miss England contest to send the English candidate to Miss Europe back in 1952. He had traveled with his beauty queen to the continental contest, making contacts with directors of other European countries who would then send representatives to his contest. Beauty events became increasingly popular in the United Kingdom and with the new rights of Miss Universe, this would happen that many more young girls would be interested in entering and seeking the dream of reaching Hollywood. In return, this would generate extra income to Mecca Dancing, which would continue to organize preliminaries in their ballrooms throughout England.
Eric Douglas Morley had bigger dreams and was determined to make his Miss World contest grow and make it a much more important event globally. That year of 1955, Morley got a car company to donate as a prize to the winner a convertible sports car valued in a thousand pounds sterling, a fortune for the time, so surely more and more countries would be interested in joining his contest. In addition, he managed to have a group of advisers at the diplomatic level, influential people, to get contacts in Embassies and thus formalize invitations to new countries to send a representative to Miss World. Morley was strongly struck by the fact that, until now, the Soviet Union had not been represented in Miss Europe or Miss Universe, and he wanted to have that first! One of his contacts, Army Major Neville Willing, visited the Soviet Embassy in London to make a formal invitation for a Russian candidate to be represented at the 1955 Miss World contest. Soviet diplomats in the cultural area initially became interested in the idea and asked many questions such as how long the representative would have to be in London, if the wearing of a bathing suit was mandatory and how and who would be responsible for judging. However, upon learning that they had to pay the cost of air travel of the Russian representative from Moscow to London, they dismissed the invitation and the negotiation did not come to a happy end.
After choosing the first Miss England for Miss Universe and interested to get new ideas and new relationships with other directors in other countries, Morley took a plane to Long Beach, California, where the American international competition was held, accompanying the brand new beauty queen, the British Margaret Rowe. Morley wanted to see with his own eyes how Americans organized their universal contest and how he could copy or improve his ideas for the benefit of his Miss World pageant.
The first thing he noticed was a similarity, and despite being a “National Director” he was not allowed to stay in the same hotel as his candidate, which he understood perfectly. But he realized that the security around the girls was somewhat exaggerated, so much so that the girls felt like in a jail! Even phone calls were intercepted and had to be approved by Miss Universe executives before being answered by a contestant. In fact, Morley had a hard time approaching, seeing or talking to his own candidate! And when he succeeded, it had to be with the presence of the chaperone, an American grandmother who seemed to have not many friends. The contestants attended a good number of social events, where the judges were invited and evaluated them in their social behavior. The pressure was so great that one night, Miss England wanted to give up and return to London! Morley advised her, managing to calm her down, and told her that the excess of security was due to the fact that the young women had to be protected, especially of men who sought to take advantage of them. Morley, in his autobiographical book published in 1967, tells that one night, at his Long Beach hotel and where some contestants were staying, he had left opened a window of his second floor room while he slept and that, in the early morning, a man entered through the window believing that the room belonged to one of the Universe girls. The police, who guarded the lobby and the fifth floor of the hotel, where the candidates were, did not realize the incident until the English organizer gave the alarm, although the intruder managed to escape without any trace.
Morley learned a lot from his trip to the Miss Universe contest and, seeing how the universal winner was crowned by the outgoing queen, decided that this year the winner of Miss World would also receive a crown that would be handed over by her predecessor. Another of the things he saw and took into account for his own contest was the publication of the souvenir program book, a magazine with photographs of all the contestants and the history of the contest. Among other novelties, Morley also decided that part of the profits from the contest would be destined to charities and thus the idea would be much more striking for countries to want to take part in the event.
When staying in Long Beach, Morley invited the candidates from Venezuela, Honduras, Cuba, Argentina and Alaska to go to London to participate in Miss World and achieved the corresponding contacts to formally invite their directors. The cash prize, in addition to a convertible car, would surely attract the participation of new countries, especially in Latin America.
Morley met Bob Russell in Long Beach who was a well-known professional producer and worked for the Miss Universe contest. Without skimping costs and in his eagerness to improve his world contest, Morley offered him to produce his Miss World event that same year. Luckily, Russell would not charge fees, only his expenses, since Morley had decided that part of the proceeds of the contest would be destined to charity.
As usual, the “National Bathing Beauty Contest” where Miss Great Britain was chosen for Miss World was held at the Morecambe National Stadium on September 5th, with the participation of 43 candidates. And it was precisely the last girl, number 43, blonde Jennifer Chimes, 21, 5 feet 5 inches tall, measurements 35-23-35, from Portland Place, Leamington, who won the title and the Thousand pounds sterling prize from the Sunday Dispatch newspaper. Jennifer was married to Frank Chimes, 32, since 1950 and had two children Martin, 3 and a half years old, and Julie, 1. In fact, her husband was the one with the idea of her participating while on vacation in Morecambe and that’s why she was the last contestant to register. Morley was not very happy with the participation of married women in these events and did not understand how their husbands allowed them to compete. He was definitely determined to change the rules to prevent married women from participating, but due to certain pressures he could not make the change in the regulation until the early 60s.
While Italy chose the Sicilian Franca Incorvaia of Palermo in September as their representative to Miss World and in France the French Committee of Elegance chose the Parisian model Gisele Thierry as her flag bearer, others would arrive at the contest by mere chance.
It was the case of the Australian Beverley Prowse, 23, born in Towoomba, Queensland but residing in the suburb of South Yarra in Melbourne. She had been “Miss Victoria” in her country in 1954 and during a vacation in London, she saw the announcement of a London newspaper where they were looking for candidates for a local swimsuit beauty event. She signed up and won. Since she was an Australian, she was invited to participate in Miss World and she accepted. She decided to remain in London and sought work as a model in the English capital while the contest date arrived.
While some dreamed of entering the contest, others were not very interested in competing. Miss Norway, Solveig Borstad did not want to participate in Miss World; The same happened with Miss Turkey, Suna Soley who gave up going to London after having been the First Runner-up in the recently concluded Miss Europe pageant.
Hawaii’s The Advertiser newspaper received Morley’s invitation to send a representative of this territory to the Miss World contest for the very first time. At that time, Hawaii was not yet a state of the American union and Miss Hawaii on duty, Barbara Mamo Vieira loved the idea of participating. She just arrived from competing in the Miss America contest achieving the awards of Best in Swimsuit and Miss Congeniality and wanted to go for more. However, an air ticket from Honolulu cost nothing less and nothing more than USD 1050.80. The newspaper published several times looking for possible sponsors for Miss Hawaii, being the deadline for arrival in London on October 14th, but unfortunately their participation in Miss World was not achieved. Something similar happened in Alaska, a territory that was not a US state at that time. Morley sent an invitation to the Alaska Chamber of Commerce, which was responsible for the local beauty contest to send their current beauty queen, Lorna Mae Margaret McLeod to London. However, they rejected the invitation because they did not have enough money to send her to the English orb.
Due to the coup d’etat of September 1955 and the consequent economical crisis, Miss Argentina, Hilda Isabel Sarli Gorrindo, 26, of Concordia, Entre Ríos, could not attend the Miss World contest. And in Brazil, they ruled out the possibility of sending a representative for the same economic issue.
On the other hand, Miss Egypt 1954, Iolanda Cristina Gigliotti, of Italian origin but born in Cairo, 22 years old and who was to represent her country in the 1955 Miss World contest, was not sent to London despite having been expected until last minute, this is due to political friction between the United Kingdom and Egypt due to the Suez Canal. For the same reason, the reigning queen, Egyptian Antigone Constanda did not travel to the British capital either. Iolanda subsequently adopted Dalila’s stage name, she was a singer and renowned film actress and died in 1987 at age 54 after committing suicide, ingesting an overdose of sleeping pills.
In Finland, for unknown reasons, they would not send the current Miss Suomi, Inga-Britt Soderberg, being replaced by her First Runner-up, Mirva Orvakki Arvinen.
In Venezuela, their beauty queen Carmen Susana Duijm Zubillaga had just arrived in Caracas having achieved the first classification in history as a semifinalist in the Miss Universe contest. She talked to the organizers of Miss Venezuela about the possibility of attending the Miss World contest thanks to the invitation of Morley, but Reinaldo Espinoza Hernández, journalist, musicologist and brand new director of Miss Venezuela at that time, decided not to support her due to the costs incurred in sending her to London. However, Susana was determined, the air ticket was of some Bs. 3326.50 and Susana began making numerous commercials to get that sum of money. Finally, with the help of Mrs. Lola Alfaro de Gutiérrez, wife of the Minister of Health of the time, Susana got her air ticket and some dollars for expenses and with borrowed clothes she traveled without much expectation to the British capital.
ARRIVAL IN LONDON.-
The Miss World contest of 1955 would bring together a record number of 23 participating countries, seven more than the previous year. Six nations would be debuting: Australia, Austria, Cuba, Honduras, Iceland and Venezuela. The arrival of the contestants was scheduled for between October 12th and 14th and the final, which was held on a Monday, would now be Thursday, the 20th of that month.
The representative of the United States, Margaret Anne Haywood, the First Runner-up of the Miss USA, made previous presentations on radio and television in Chicago and New York before leaving on Tuesday, October 11th towards Britain.
Venezuelan Susana Duijm traveled on Sunday October 9th to the British capital by Air France, a flight that had stop overs in the Azores Islands, in Lisbon and in Paris, and she finally arrived in London on Monday, October 10th.
Upon arriving at the London airport, at 5:30 p.m. on that Monday, Susana, as she preferred to be called, found herself completely alone. No one was waiting for her !! She cried inconsolably until a reporter from the Daily Sketch saw her. In her little English, Susana explained what was happening to her and the man gently “adopted” her and took her to the newspaper, took photos of her in a bathing suit and the next day the picture of her appeared on the cover, with the legend “Lost Latin American beauty in the haze of London”. That same day they took her to a discreet hotel in the city center and took her out for a walk. The newspaper’s Director contacted Eric Morley and he did not understand the situation. What did Miss Venezuela do in London if they had not confirmed her presence? At midnight, after the walk, Susana arrived back at the hotel, where she met Eric Morley, who was waiting for her furiously. What are you doing here? Morley asked. Susana, in her little English, could explain that she had sent a telegram confirming her arrival in London, but the blessed telegram never reached the British organizer. It turned out that Susana had given money to a man who was always in the Plaza Bolívar (Caracas), to send a cable warning of her arrival date, but it seems as if he took the money and never did.
Morley told her that the contest officially began on October 14th and that she had arrived four days earlier so he could not attend her. The next day, Miss Duijm mounted a drama before the Director of the Daily Sketch newspaper and he promised to help her with the expenses. He gave her 13 pounds a day for her meals and sent a journalist to attend and take her out to see the city. In return, Susana had to agree to be photographed and would be portrayed every day on the cover of the newspaper. One of the most remembered one was the photograph where she was surrounded by Soviet marines in a tavern in Portsmouth.
Morley was very upset to see her two consecutive days at the front page of the newspaper, and called her to explain that she could not continue to appear in that newspaper because it was the direct competition of his main sponsor, the Sunday Dispatch and that she ran the risk of being disqualified. But Susana, with her irreverent character replied “I came alone to London, I am paying my hotel, my expenses. When I start the contest I will stop being on that newspaper. Meanwhile, I do with my life what I want”.It was the end of the conversation. And Susana continued to appear in the Daily Sketch the following days and was already being recognized by the London public. On Friday the 14th, she moved to the Howard hotel, the official lodging of the contest.
Between October 12th and 14th, the representatives from the United States (Margaret Anne Haywood), Israel (Miriam Kotler), Denmark (Karin Palm-Rasmussen), Finland (Mirva Orvakki Arvinen), Sweden (Anita Åstrand), Holland (Angelina) arrived Kalkhoven), Iceland (Arna Hjorleifsdóttir), Ireland (Evelyn Foley), France (Gisele Thierry), Monte Carlo (Josette Travers), Belgium (Rosette Ghislain), Honduras (Pastora Pagán Valenzuela) and Cuba (Gilda Marín) arrived in London, being joined by Miss Great Britain (Jennifer Chimes) and Miss Australia (Beverley Prowse). Morley presented to each of them a copy of the “program book” in the welcome cocktail.
On Saturday the 15th, two more candidates arrived, Miss Italy (Franca Incorvaia) and Miss Ceylon (Viola Sita Gunaratne). On that day, at 6 pm, the usual Press Presentation was held at the Lyceum Ballroom, where the 18 contestants who had arrived so far, were shown to the media in bathing suits. That same day it was reported that due to hostilities between the United Kingdom and Egypt, the representative of that country would not take part in the contest this year.
On Sunday, October 16th, Miss Greece (Tzoulia “Julia” Georgia Coumoundourou) and Miss Austria (Felicitas Von Goebel) arrived in London. The candidates spent that Sunday touring emblematic parks and museums, and at night, they had an elegant dinner at the Stork Club of Streathem-Hill. That Sunday, Morley received a telegram informing him that Miss Switzerland, Claude Ivry, 23, of Zurich, would not arrive at the contest due to an unexpected event. But there was still a candidate to come. Miss Germany did not appear anywhere and Morley had not even received her identity. The directors of Miss Germany sent excuses that they could not send their contestant and Morley, at the last minute, managed to get a German representative. She was Heidi Beate Kruger, who had been Miss Germany 1953 with 16 years of age in an event parallel to the original Miss Germany, organized by a Hamburg newspaper. Already being 18 she had tried to compete in Miss Europe but had not been accepted because the original Miss Germany was already registered. Thirsty to represent her country internationally, the now blonde candidate accepted Morley’s invitation and immediately flew to London, being the last candidate to arrive in the British capital.
On Monday, October 17th, the girls saw the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, had lunch at the Café de Paris invited by the Press Club and later returned to pose in bathing suits and national costumes. Susana’s was a white costume, with sandals and a hat, the same one she had taken to Long Beach.
The next day, the candidates visited the deputies in the House of Commons and attended another elegant dinner at a bombastic place in the city, like almost every night. In one of these events of the English “socialite”, Miss Venezuela was smoking, when they suddenly announced the presence of Queen Elizabeth II and the Venezuelan had to swallow the puff of smoke out of respect for her majesty the Queen !. On Wednesday the 19th, the beauties visited the Lyceum Ballroom for the first time and spent the whole day to rehearsals. The representatives from Australia, France and the United States were mentioned as favorites by the local press.
THE HAPPENINGS OF MISS WORLD 1955.-
Bob Russell had arrived in London days before to handle the entire production of the show. Among his requests was the hiring of an orchestra of 36 people, much larger than that of 16 or 20 members that Morley had in previous years. This year’s contest would last 3 hours instead of the usual hour and a half and would include numerous musical performances, in which Bob Russell himself, who would also be the Master of Ceremonies, would sing.
The contest, once again, was sponsored by Mecca Dancing and the Sunday Dispatch newspaper. On the night of Thursday, October 20th of that year, there were some changes in the Lyceum Ballroom where the event was usually held. This year it was adorned with the flags of the participating countries. The theater was modified and now it had become a rotating stage and that included stairs, being considered as a pleasant novelty for the audience and for the press there. The judges were placed on the right side of the stage along with the red convertible car that the winner would get as a prize. The pedestals of the participants were removed and, along the catwalk, signs with the names of the participating countries were placed just where each of the representatives of world beauty would stand. For the first time there would be a throne and the new queen would receive not only a crown but also a royal cape.
The opening of the event was at 8 o’clock at night, with clarion chords by the female band of firefighters in London. The 21 contestants appeared in a bathing suit on the stairs of the stage, covering themselves with a thin embroidered cape in dark tones. They were presented individually and, for the first time in history, in alphabetical order. In this parade, Miss United States decided to wear blue pantyhose to get the judge’s attention. After the individual presentation, they wore the cape again and went to the microphone test, where each participant was interviewed by Bob Russell. In her response, Miss Germany achieved the underestimation of the night when she said: “In the past, Germany has had some misunderstandings with England” … In this segment, the representative of the United States again wanted to shine by publicly announcing the Director of Mecca Dancing as the new Arkansas Honorary Ambassador. Meanwhile, Miss Venezuela was nervous and did not know what to answer in the first question. Then she clasped her hands in front of her face and began to laugh out loud, shaking her head and making her earrings clink, breaking the ice in this embarrassing situation.
Later, the judges were introduced and the panel was composed of nine personalities: Mr. Gerald Kelly, president of the Royal Academy of Arts; British designer Hardy Amies, seamstress of Queen Elizabeth II; two film actresses, the American Gloria Swanson and the British Hermione Gingold; British theater producer and renowned pianist Jack Hylton; American actor Steve Cochran; Claude Berr of the Miss Europe Committee; a lady of high society, Mrs. Smith Crighton and, as always, Charles Eade Sunday Dispatch newspaper as Chairman and President of the panel of Judges.
After a musical interlude by Bob Russell, the 21 candidates in evening gowns were presented individually, curiously almost all of them white, with the exception of Miss Ceylon’s. Again there was a musical intermission by the orchestra and the Venezuelan Susana Duijm, who thought she had no chance to advance in the contest, decided to sit in the front row to enjoy the pleasant music of the orchestra. Suddenly, a chaperone pulled her arm and told her she had to go to dressing rooms to put on her swimsuit again. Surprised, Susana obeyed and minutes later, the judges announced the 8 semifinalists. They were Miss Australia, Miss Austria, Miss Cuba, Miss France, Miss Greece, Miss Sweden, Miss United States and Miss Venezuela. The 8 semifinalists appeared again in bathing suits and the judges had to cast their final vote, choosing only six of the eight and placing the final position for each of them. Morley used the Vote by Majority system again.
The final result was as follows: In the sixth place and winner of £ 25, Miss France, 21-year-old Gisele Thierry, from Paris. Fifth place went to Miss Sweden, Anita Åstrand, 21, from the city of Alingsas and who won a prize of £ 50. Fourth place went to Miss Cuba, Gilda Marín, a 26-year-old teacher and TV presenter from Havana, earning £ 60 as a prize.
In third place was Miss Greece, Tzoulia (Julia) Georgia Coumoundourou, 18, from Ikaria Island, with a check for £ 75. Second place went to Miss United States, Margaret Anne Haywood, a 20-year-old green-eyed blonde from Jonesboro, Arkansas, with a £ 100 prize; curiously and for two consecutive years, the American representative qualified as First Runner-up! The beautiful American told the media that she felt happy and satisfied with her placement in the contest and that in her immediate plans she was going to spend a few days in Paris and Rome before returning to the United States.
The winner of the title and the crown of Miss World 1955, was the Venezuelan Carmen Susana Duijm Zubillaga, better known as Susana Duijm, being the first Latin American to win this prestigious title. The 19 year old Caracas girl, with long black hair, brown eyes, measures of 34-21-34 and a height of 5 feet 8 inches, Susana was one of the tallest contestants in this edition of the contest. She received the crown from the British actress Eunice Gayson and also got a royal cape, a check for 500 pounds sterling (about 1400 dollars of the time), a silver rose-bowl courtesy of the Sunday Dispatch, a huge bouquet of flowers and her Red convertible car valued in Thousand pounds, as well as a two-week trip for two people to Paris, France, with all expenses paid, offered by the French Committee of Elegance. At the time of being announced as the winner, she was attacked by laughter, nerves and the unexpected of her victory. She told the press that her dream was to become a famous model and that while the judges deliberated, those had been the worst 10 minutes of her life. Upon being interviewed after her triumph, Susana, as always innocently sincere, told the media that she deeply appreciated all the support that the Daily Sketch newspaper had given her, ignoring the Sunday Dispatch newspaper that was the main sponsor of the event and main rival of the mentioned newspaper. The next day, of course, the Daily Sketch titled “Our Girl Won” on the front page.
Meanwhile, in Venezuela, Radio Caracas interrupted its programming to announce the triumph of the beautiful Susana. The president on duty, General Marcos Pérez Jiménez sent a congratulatory telegram to London.
Susana told a funny story: “I really thought that the one that was going to win was Miss United States, because she had arrived with all her entourage of makeup artists, assistants, representative. Me and the other Latinas were the only “Cinderellas””.
Almost all of the contestants were satisfied with the results, even though they thought Miss France deserved a better position. In fact, Miss France was the only one who cried after her defeat declaring to the media that “This is ridiculous, she is not the winner, this is unfair.” Another one that was not satisfied was Miss Montecarlo who, the next day at the airport, declared that she felt robbed and that the Venezuelan was “too skinny.”
“I WANT TO THROW MYSELF IN A HAMMOCK”.-
The day after her triumph, the brand new Miss World posed at Lex Garages, the car dealer that sponsored the contest, climbed on the car she won, the TR-2 convertible sports car, but she liked the model TR-3 more, and the sponsors changed it and sent the car to Venezuela by ship. The next day she traveled to Paris accompanied by her best friend in the contest, the Honduran Pastora Pagán, 18, of San Pedro Sula. They stayed at the Napoleon Hotel, a few steps from the “Arc de Triomphe” and there she received journalists from the Caracas newspaper El Nacional. The cold Parisian autumn did not forgive her and she got a cold. She told the reporter that she had dispatched journalists, photographers, designers and hairdressers because she felt a little bad and wanted to rest. “I am exhausted, boy, I am fed up of journalists, photographers and cocktails” and when she said fed up, she brought her index finger to her forehead, at the limit just where her famous black hair begins to shine. She also declared that not only did she like spaghetti with black beans, but she liked to eat it all scrambled! When asked if she had accepted the offer of a modeling course with Jacques Fath, Susana replied, “Look, what I want is to go back home. Going far away to a little village where I don’t hear about any contests and throw myself there in a hammock”.
In Paris, Susana went shopping, did countless photo shoots, attended Jacques Fath’s fashion show and numerous receptions, including one at the Consulate of Venezuela and a dinner at the Venezuelan Ambassador’s residence in France, Mr. Enrique Gil Fortoul. A famous jewelry gave her a small golden tulip. One day she escaped to the cinema with her Honduran friend being surprised by journalists at the exit of the cinema. Susana declared that, for her, being Miss World “does not matter to me, I am the same as always, just in case …”.
On one occasion she had to do a modelling job for Jacques Fath and when she arrived at the dressing room and saw her dress, she did not want to wear it because she had not liked it, so she took her purse and left, leaving the famous fashion designer with no Miss World. Following this incident, the magazine “Paris Match” gave her the nickname “Carmen the Savage”.
Susana finally returned to her beloved and missed Venezuela on Tuesday, November 1st, 1955, being apotheosically received by some six thousand people euphorically taken away by her triumph at the Maiquetía International Airport.
The story of the Queen “Pepeada” takes us to its humble origin from the hands of a Venezuelan matron: María de los Santos Álvarez and her children who create a chain of Creole food restaurants called “Criollos Nutrition Centers of the Álvarez Brothers” . In 1955 after Susana Duijm was crowned as Miss World, the Álvarez Brothers decided to honor her particular beauty with an arepa filling which they called “Pepiada Queen” in her honor. The rest is history, since then, many theories have been formulated around the Creole arepa type Reina Pepiada; but we all know that Susana Duijm is and will be forever, our only Pepeada Queen.
Carmen Susana was born in El Paraíso, Caracas, on August 11th, 1936. Her mother, Carmen Zubillaga, was a native of Aragua de Barcelona and her father, Abraham Duijm, was a Jewish immigrant from Suriname. She lived in Bello Monte Hills in Caracas. She was crowned Miss Venezuela on July 9th, 1955 after being convinced to enter the contest when discovered at a bus stop in Chacaíto. She represented Venezuela in the Miss Universe contest, managing to place herself as a semifinalist, being the first classification of a Venezuelan in this contest. She got the crown of Miss World on October 20th, 1955 in London, becoming the first Latin American to obtain the title. It was the first Venezuelan who appeared on the cover of the French magazine “Paris Match” on November 5th, 1955, which included an extensive report about her during her time in Paris after winning the Miss World of that year. She served as a model for the famous designer Oleg Cassini and was combed by Alexander, the most renowned stylist of the time.
Finally she returned to Caracas on the 1st. November 1955. Later she was welcomed in Valencia, San Cristóbal and Maracaibo, among other cities. “I will never forget how they welcomed me in Maracaibo after I won Miss World. It was spectacular! I toured the streets in a caravan and they even took me to the Sabaneta prison because the prisoners also wanted to meet me. They made me songs, everything, so I cried like crazy”, Susana remembered. There was a rumor that General Marcos Pérez Jiménez had given her a house in Las Palmas, Caracas, after her triumph as Miss World, but Susana denied it. The confusion came from that in that luxurious urbanization a big house had been built at that time and since the water tank was round and had a world drawn, people began to circulate that rumor.
She worked as a model in New York and Paris and subsequently made an acting career in Mexico. She also worked as a film and theater actress in Spain and Italy. Then she was a soap opera actress and television hostess in Venezuela. Sentimentally she was related to the American actor George Hamilton, but she married the Argentine publicist Martín Cerruti from whom she divorced after seven years and three children: Carolina del Valle, Marianela and José Martín. Carolina competed in the Miss Venezuela 1983 pageant representing the state of Apure, and representing her country in the Miss World contest that same year. Susana attended as a special guest at the celebration of the 25 years of the Miss World in London in 1975. In 1979 everyone remembers her when she shouted in the Venevision broadcast “Venezuelaaaa won” when Maritza Sayalero was crowned as the first Venezuelan Miss Universe. On September 15th, 2005, the Miss Venezuela organization paid tribute to her fiftieth anniversary as Miss World. She worked for many years as a public relationist for the Rattan department store on Margarita Island. She lived until her last days with her sister Giocconda in a house near La Asunción, which is named “1955”. In neighboring Porlamar she maintained a radio program for 20 years on the 98.1 FM station entitled “Tone to Tone with Susana”. She lost the silver rose-bowl she won as Miss World in an assault that took place at her home shortly before she died.
In June 2016, at 79, she suffered a stroke, a condition that surprised her while she was sleeping and left her in critical condition. She died on June 18th, 2016 at La Fe de Porlamar Clinic in Margarita Island. She was buried in the Cemetery of that population on June 19th. We will always remember you dear Susana !!
Thanks to Donald West, Daryl Schabinger, Tony Hidalgo, Humberto Acevedo, Angel Toro and Angel Alvarez