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Miss World 1963

By Julio Rodríguez Matute


                1963 was a historic year that marked a milestone in society and left an imperishable mark on the world. Starting the year, Harvey Gantt, becomes the first African-American student admitted to an American university, at Clemson University in South Carolina. In Japan, the series “Astroboy” precursor to the current “anime” begins to be broadcast and, in China, one human hand is reimplanted successfully. NASA launches the first experimental geostationary satellite into space, Syncom 1 and the Soviet Union launches Vostok 6, with the first cosmonaut woman, Valentina Tereshkova. On political issues, in Iran the government implements the right to vote and parliamentary eligibility of women and revolts broke out led by Ayatollah Khomeini who is against it; In the USA, the famous red telephone is connected – actually black – that linked the office of communist leader Nikita Khrushchev (in Moscow) with that of US President John F. Kennedy (in Washington). On June 3rd of that year Pope John XXIII dies in the Vatican and Cardinal Montini is elected his successor by adopting the pseudonym “Paul VI”. On August 28th, the Civil Rights Demonstration is held in Washington DC and where Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his famous “I have a dream” speech. On September 29th, in Venezuela, the train “El Encanto” is raided near Caracas, a terrorist action in which it was assured that the then deputy of the PCV, Teodoro Petkoff, had participated. In early October, Hurricane Flora causes more than a thousand deaths in Cuba and on November 22nd the president of the United States, Democrat John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas (Texas). The suspect of his murder, Lee Harvey Oswald, is murdered two days later. In the United Kingdom the first chapter of the science fiction television series “Doctor Who” is broadcast and, musically speaking, “The Beatles” released their first album entitled “Please, Please me” kicking off the Beatlemania while “The Beach Boys” reached the peak of success with their theme “Surfin ‘USA”. In Latin America, the Spanish Rocío Durcal, the Brazilian Roberto Carlos and the Great Combo of Puerto Rico were very well known. Also in this year of 1963 the audio cassette was invented in Europe, in Miami Beach the Brazilian Ieda María Vargas is chosen as Miss Universe and a future Miss World was born in Caracas, the Venezuelan Astrid Carolina Herrera.


                Morley was expecting a record 50 countries in Miss World this year. On this occasion, Chile, Colombia, Liberia, Malaysia and Nigeria would be debuting, in addition to the return of Mexico, which had not participated since the inaugural edition of 1951. However, in the Free China (Taiwan), a national beauty pageant was not held that year, in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic no candidates were selected for the English contest, in the latter country because of the political situation due to the recent military coup d’etat. On the other hand, although the “Eve’s Weekly Miss India” contest was held, the organizers decided not to send the winner and said their trip would waste much-needed foreign currency for the country.

                In some South American countries the situation was quite the same, and for not being able to cover travel expenses to London Miss ECUADOR (Tania Valle Moreno) and Miss PARAGUAY (Mirta Fernández Cameron) were absent and Miss URUGUAY (Martha Vivas Velásquez) didn’t go because their organizers decided to send her to the first edition of the Miss Nations in Palma de Mallorca instead. For unknown reasons Miss TAHITI (Marie-Louise Metuarea) did not travel while in Lebanon there was no national competition but they had appointed Mona Slim, who had participated in Miss International the previous year, as the official representative, however, for reasons that are unknown she did not travel either.

Franca Dall’Olio, Miss Italy 1963

                Miss Italy 1962, Rafaella de Carolis, when returned the year before to her country, she spoke bad things about Miss World after not having classified even among the first 15, so the organizer, Enzo Mirigliani, decided not to send his Miss Italy 1963, Franca Dall’Olio, to London. Morley sent a telegram asking for the candidate’s details to which Mirigliani reported that he would not send any girl that year. Then Morley went to the organizers of the parallel contest in Italy and who sent the representative of that country to the Miss Universe pageant, to send their queen, Gianna Serra (whose birth name was Giovanna Erbetta), to Miss World.


                In Lagos, a contest was held with eight finalists to choose a Miss Nigeria for Miss World, but the authorities refused to name a winner saying that the girls were too “ugly” to represent the country abroad. In the end, and in the midst of the protests, the judges had to decide and among the less graceful candidates they crowned Martha Bassey of 16 years of age as “Miss World Nigeria 1963”. However, Morley rejected her for not having the required minimum age that was 17 years. The first runner-up, Therese Gina Onyejiaka of the city of Enugu, was 24, but the organizers refused to send her to London. Miss Onyejiaka sent a letter to Mecca Dancing explaining the situation but Morley replied saying that unfortunately they could not cover their air transfer to the British capital because if they did it with her, they would have to do it with all the others. A spokesman for the Miss World competition told reporters that Nigerian officials were still looking for a girl worthy of representing the country, however, Morley assumed that Nigeria would no longer participate that year.


                On December 31st, 1962, the “Miss France 1963” contest was held at the Grand Theater of Bordeaux. The winner was Miss Ile de France, Muguette Fabris, 22 years old and 5 feet 6 1/2 inches tall, a math teacher at an Angouleme school. Her resemblance to the Egyptian queen Cleopatra was widely publicized. 18 candidates participated.

                After receiving Morley’s first invitation in 1960, Malaysia (which until the previous year was known as Malaya) organized a national pageant for Miss World on Saturday April 20th, 1963 at the Negara Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, being elected Catherine Loh, 19, 5 feet 6 inches tall, from Brunei Town, as “Miss Malaysia 1963”. The new queen was crowned by the French actress Capuccine in an event that was attended by 25 candidates from across the federation. In second and third places were Anne Woodford and Alice Woon, both from Singapore. Catherine had been “Miss Brunei” for three consecutive years. On the eve of her trip to London and when Brunei had decided not to be part of the Malaysian Federation, it was speculated that Catherine would not be able to represent that country in Miss World. However, she showed her birth certificate (she was born in Sabah) therefore, although she resided in Brunei, she was a Malaysian national.

Milagros on the left, next to Miss Venezuela 1963, Irene Morales
  (to the center) and the second runner-up, Norah Luisa Duarte (right).

                Miss Venezuela for Miss World, Milagros Eugenia Galíndez Castillo was born in Caracas on January 25th, 1940, under the sign Aquarius, was 23 years old, was 5 feet 4 1/2 inches tall, had black hair and brown eyes. She competed at Miss Venezuela 1963, thanks to the journalist of the time, Mariahé Pabón, who when she saw her invited her to participate in the national beauty pageant; Mariahe was in charge of talking to her mother to request permission and then took her to the contest offices. When the organizers saw Milagros, they observed that she met the requirements to be a contestant and asked her what State she wanted to represent, to which Galíndez replied: “I want to be Miss Miranda”, because in that entity she was known because she had been “Queen of the Carnivals of Los Teques” and “Queen of the Navy.” She had already tried to participate in the Miss Venezuela contest in 1956 when she was a candidate for Miss Distrito Federal, but under pressure from her older brothers who were military, she declined her participation, her bust, waist and hips measurements were 36, 25 and 37, respectively, she weighed 128 pounds and was a bilingual executive secretary. During the “Beauty Week”, which took place days before the finals, the contestants carried out several activities such as attending a mass in the Cathedral of Caracas, placed floral offerings to the Liberator in the Plaza Bolivar, visited the media, held the parade in bathing suits in Club Valle Arriba, which was privately for the judges and special guests; they paraded in a full black swimsuit. On Thursday, May 30th, 1963, the finals of Miss Venezuela were held, which was broadcast by Radio Caracas Television, from the Paris Theater in Caracas. The 18 participants held three parades: sports dress, cocktail dress and evening outfit. Milagros Galíndez wore a very formal evening dress, in black with big sleeves, which she bought in Selemar Stores; she remembers that when she was parading, the orchestra, which was on the sides of the catwalk, began to play the Waltz “Dama Antañona”, a tune that always reminds her of her pleasant participation. The night of the election the winners were not crowned, that was done in the “Coronation Ball” of Miss Venezuela 1963, which was held on Friday June 14th, at the Circulo Militar of Caracas. Milagros won no cash prize, only the air ticket with a companion to London, and the evening dress for the final night of Miss World, which was presented by Selemar Stores, sponsor of Miss Venezuela as well as Helene Curtis. She was accompanied by her mother, Mrs. Carmen Luisa Castillo de Galíndez. Her national costume was the traditional Venezuelan, plain style in white with a wide lace skirt, which was adorned with necklaces and several bracelets; in her hair she used two red flowers. The evening gown was made in white torchon laces, tight to the body from which a mermaid skirt came out, it was strapless, also by Selemar.

                On Friday June 14th, in Niagara Falls, the “Miss Dominion of Canada 1963″contest was held with the participation of 12 candidates in the event organized by John Bruno of Hamilton. The winner was Jane Kmita, a 24-year-old nurse from Regina, Saskatchewan, who would be the representative of Canada in both the Miss Universe and the Miss World contests. The finalists were Ingrid Kanper, 20, of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario and Glennis Hermanson, also 20, of Hull, Quebec.

Miss Brazil

                On June 22nd, the “Miss Brazil 1963” contest was held at the Maracanãzinho Gymnasium in Rio de Janeiro. Vera Lúcia Ferreira Maia, who was in third place, was in charge of representing her country in Miss World. It was the third consecutive time that the former state of Guanabara had that honor. The winner of Miss Brazil, Ieda Maria Vargas, went on to win Miss Universe weeks later.

                On Friday, August 2nd, the election of “Miss Jamaica 1963” was held at the Sheraton Kingston Hotel with the participation of 15 candidates, at an event sponsored by the Jamaican Broadcasting Corporation. The winner was “Miss Pepsi Cola” Carole Joan Crawford, at that time she was 20 years of age and who got her name in honor of the legendary actress Joan Crawford, with whom she regularly corresponded. Among the awards, Carole received an air ticket for two people with all expenses paid for a week in New York City and from there to London for Miss World. The finalists were Jean Murray and Merle Fray.

                On Saturday, August 31st, the Miss USA for Miss World contest was held in Huntington, West Virginia. This title was won by Miss Michele Bettina Metrinko, an 18-year-old Georgetown University student in Washington DC, a native of New York City and who months before had participated in the Miss USA for Miss Universe as Miss District of Columbia , being there as First Runner-up. Curiously, she attended Miami Beach with her sister, Marsha Barbara Metrinko, who was Miss Maryland and who would also accompany her to London. Michele, with 5 feet 8 inches in height and measurements 36-24-36, was studying for a career in the diplomatic corps and hoped to work in the foreign service. The finalists were Kathy Miller of Alabama, Diane Budan of Ohio, Kathleen Barden of Arkansas and Sandy Bawol of Missouri. A total of 45 participants competed.

                In countries like Colombia, Mexico and Chile there was no national contest for Miss World but the representatives were selected through castings in their respective nations. The Mexican Ana Beatriz Martínez Solórzano, who was 17 and 5 feet 3 inches tall, was encouraged to enter the casting by the Argentine host Raúl Astor, earning the right to represent Mexico in Miss World after many years of absence. Meanwhile, Miss Chile, Pilar Aguirre, was from Santiago, also 5 feet 3 inches tall, who spoke perfectly English and had been chosen in a closed-door casting. Meanwhile, in Peru, those who had the rights of Miss World, also did not hold a contest. They decided to send one of the girls who had participated in Miss Venus 1959, Lucia Buonanni Dawson, who had been left with the “thorn” to go to an international competition despite not having won the “Miss Venus” title; apparently she was willing to pay her travel expenses to the United Kingdom.

                On Saturday night, October 19th, in Studio 3 of Channel 9, the election of “Miss Cosmética Argentina 1963” was held for Miss World in London with the presence of three international queens, Miss Mexico, Miss Chile and Miss Peru, who were invited by Mrs. Nelly Raymond to crown the new sovereign of beauty. The winner was Diana Sarti, 18 years old and 5 feet 6 inches tall who won over other fourteen finalists. Diana was a student and was preparing to enter the Faculty of Electrotechnical Engineering, spoke French and some English. As runner-ups were crowned Ada Banegas and Norma Oyon. Before her trip to London, Diana competed in the “Miss International Objective” contest in Brazil. In July 1964, Diana represented her country again in the “Miss Nations” contest held in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

Miss Chile, Miss Mexico and Miss Peru with the girls of the Miss Argentina contest


                The election of “Miss United Kingdom 1963” was held on Tuesday, September 3rd at the Blackpool Open-Air Bath Stadium, an event that was won by 19-year-old Diane Westbury of Ilkeston, Derbyshire, who had changed her original Hickingbotham surname to enter the world of beauty pageants. She had previously won the title of “Miss Britain” that gave her the right to represent England in the Miss International contest held in Long Beach on August 16th where she qualified as First Runner-up (the best classification of an Englishwoman in that contest until then). Upon being crowned as Miss United Kingdom, she won a Thousand Guineas (£ 1050) prize. Diane’s finalists in the Blackpool pageant were Maureen Gay and Sylvia Sidney (who actually was Ann Sidney and who would later win the Miss World a year later).

                After the contest there was a scandal, as two of the four judges, tenor David Whitfield and singer Lonnie Donegan had claimed that they had not voted for Diane but for Maureen for the winner, while comedian Max Bygraves had voted for Sylvia Sidney and Eric Morley, the fourth and last judge, by Diane Westbury. The problem was that a fifth judge did not attend the event and with only four judges remaining, the majority vote decision was complicated. After the incident, the Mayor of Blackpool promised to make a thorough investigation about what happened and the title of “Miss United Kingdom” was temporarily vacant until the end of the process, on Friday, September 13th. That day, at a press conference, Morley managed to demonstrate with his majority vote theory that the winner was indeed Diane. The director of Mecca Dancing explained that with this system, for a girl to win she had to have an absolute majority of 3 of 4 judges; As this did not happen, they had to count then the majority of second places. In this case, of the last seven finalists, Whitfield and Donegan had both voted for Maureen Gay first, Diane Westbury second and Sylvia Sidney third. While Bygraves had given first place to Sylvia Sidney, second Westbury and fifth Gay; and Morley had voted for Westbury, second Sidney and seventh Gay. By not having obtained 3 votes for the winner, the second places were counted and that was how it was shown that Diane Westbury had been the correct winner with a first place and three seconds.


Miss Argentina

                The 13th edition of Miss World would be held from November 1st to the 8th, as usual, in the British capital. As always, days before, the beauties of the entire planet began to arrive in London. The first to do so was Miss South Africa, who arrived at the international airport on Thursday, October 24th. On Saturday, October 26th, Miss Jamaica Carole Joan Crawford accompanied by her mother left Montego Bay for New York in a plane of the BOAC. She was in New York City for four days as a guest of the “Cornwall College Old Boys Association” and estimated her arrival in London on Thursday, October 31st. Miss Malaysia arrived on Monday the 28th, while Miss Canada, Miss New Zealand and Miss Cyprus arrived on Tuesday the 29th. On Wednesday, October 30th, Miss Denmark, Miss Argentina, Miss Tunisia, Miss United States, Miss Suriname and Miss Israel made their appearance at the airport, these last three arrived with their sisters Marsha Metrinko, Rita Hardjo and Miriam Talmi, who by the way was a twin sister of Sara, the Israeli contestant. On Thursday, October 31st, a large contingent of 22 candidates arrived to total 33 contestants at the end of that day. Meanwhile, those who had arrived days before took walks around the city and received journalists at the Waldorf Hotel, where they were staying. Most of the candidates interviewed told the media that they aspired to become wives and mothers. However, upon arrival at the airport, Miss Luxembourg, Triny Paulos, said: “I hate men. All of them. I have no intention of getting married, I have no reason for that at all. I just don’t seem to have much time for them”. Miss Canada, who was a nurse, had to attend Miss Malaysia, who due to the change of the weather fell in bed with a bad cold. Miss Brazil shared a room with Miss Venezuela and Miss Colombia, and in the next room, which had a direct communication with the South American room, were Miss Spain and Miss Portugal. The five turned the two rooms into one and helped each other by sharing clothes, shoes and makeup among them.




Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, Mexico and Brazil

                The customary Press Presentation, an activity that officially started the Miss World pageant, was held at the Lyceum Ballroom in London on Friday November 1st in the afternoon. Early that day two more contestants had arrived: Miss Japan and Miss United Kingdom, who along with their other 33 companions posed in one-piece swimsuits for graphic reporters. They were: Miss ARGENTINA (Diana Sarti), Miss AUSTRIA (Sonja Russ), Miss BELGIUM (Irène Godin), Miss BOLIVIA (Rosario Lopera), Miss BRAZIL (Vera Lúcia Ferreira Maia), Miss CANADA (Jane Kmita), Miss CEYLON ( Jennifer Anne Fonseka), Miss COLOMBIA (Maria Eugenia Cucalón Venegas), Miss CYPRUS (Maro Zorna), Miss DENMARK (Aino Korwa), Miss FINLAND (Marja-Liisa Ståhlberg), Miss FRANCE (Muguette Fabris), Miss GERMANY (Susie Gruner) , Miss GREECE (Athanasia “Soula” Idromenou), Miss HOLLAND (Elsa Onstenk), Miss ICELAND (Maria Ragnarsdóttir), Miss IRELAND (Joan Power), Miss ISRAEL (Sara Talmi), Miss JAMAICA (Carole Joan Crawford), Miss JAPAN ( Miyako Harada) Miss JORDAN (Despo Drakolakis), Miss KOREA (Keum-shil Choi), Miss LIBERIA (Ethel Zoe Norman), Miss LUXEMBOURG (Catherine “Triny” Paulus), Miss MALAYSIA (Catherine Loh), Miss MEXICO (Ana Beatriz Martínez Solórzano), Miss NEW ZEALAND (Elaine Miscall), Miss SOUTH AFRICA (Louise Crous), Miss SPAIN (Encarnacion Zalabardo), Miss SURINAM (Virginia Blanche Hardjo), Miss SWEDEN (Grete Qviberg), Miss TUNISIA (Claudine Younes), Miss UNITED KINGDOM (Diane Westbury), Miss UNITED STATES (Michele Bettina Metrinko) and Miss VENEZUELA (Milagros Eugenia Galíndez Castillo). Miss Israel cheated the press when her sister Miriam impersonated her in the presentation wearing a swimsuit. All contestants wore a button with the name of the country they represented on their chest. The first favorites of the press were the representatives of Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Germany, South Africa and the United Kingdom.


                Sponsors of the Miss World contest stationed guards around the girl’s hotel in a move to deter would-be Romeos. Said Peter Wild, one of the sponsors: “We’re watching every door, and it’s impossible for any of the girls to leave the hotel unchaperoned. It’s also impossible for anyone to get to them and try to date them”. “We’ve even got chaperones eavesdropping on telephone conversations,” said Wild. On a daily basis, the contestants received dozens of phone calls and each call had to be checked by the head of chaperones, Miss Gibbons. The favorite tricks of the gentlemen who wished to meet the Misses were always the same. They were posing as friends from their home country, cousins, uncles, reporters, photographers … Also those who said they brought messages from their parents or had to give a gift, or wanted to have an autograph signed or simply , those who said they wanted to date one of them. Miss Gibbons filtered all those calls. If it was a journalist or photographer, she asked the name of the media and checked if it was true. If it was a relative or friend, she asked them to leave their number to check with the candidate if it was true, and if so, she would return the call. If they brought gifts or wanted autograph signatures, they could leave them at the hotel reception, and those who had the audacity to ask for appointments, they were told that the girls did not have time for that even if they wanted to.

Denmark, Sweden and Finland

                There was a commotion when an army lieutenant in his uniform arrived at the Waldorf Hotel one night and tried to invite 21-year-old Miss South Africa, Louise Crous. The lieutenant explained that a Miss World contestant was one of the “objects” that had to be acquired in one of the initiation tests. The military was heard genuine and even embarrassed and Miss Gibbons asked his company name and regiment for her to call the officer in charge and corroborate the story. The lieutenant felt so ashamed that he left the hotel in terror. Half an hour later, a second army officer arrived at the hotel with the same request. He gave Miss Gibbons the details of his commander and she was able to confirm the story. Then, Miss South Africa was given authorization to be escorted to the barracks by the young officer where she had a wonderful time. Miss Gibbons could only imagine the surprised face of the first soldier when he saw his companion arrive with the beauty queen!

Germany and Holland


                On Saturday, November 2nd, the 35 participants who had so far arrived began rehearsing at the Lyceum Ballroom. In the evening they attended the welcome dinner sponsored by the Air France airline. At dinner they presented a miniature model of the Concorde supersonic aircraft. In November of that year, the French and British governments had signed an agreement for the joint design, development and production of the Concorde by the British Aircraft Corporation and Sud Aviation of France. Miss Spain bent an ankle dancing twist at the welcome party and spent several days attending the official activities of the contest prostrated in a wheelchair. On Sunday the 3rd, the contestants went to the church, took a tourist tour of the most iconic places in the English capital, such as St. Paul’s Cathedral and the London Bridge. They witnessed the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and the Anti-Apartheid demonstration that took place in Trafalgar Square; that same day they attended a lunch at the mansion of the Thirteenth Duke of Bedford and his wife Nicole Milinair at Woburn Abbey.

Finland, France and Germany

                This activity was attended by all the candidates with the exception of Miss Malaysia, who asked for special permission to meet her favorite artist, British pop singer Cliff Richards at the London Palladium. Catherine said she had always wanted to meet Cliff. When he went to Singapore the previous year, Catherine could not raise enough money to go to see him sing. She entered the Miss World contest mainly because when she became Miss Malaysia she thought she could have the opportunity to meet the famous singer. As soon as Miss Malaysia was elected, she wrote to the organizers in London asking them to fulfill her dream. She finally had her dream date with Cliff that Sunday …

                At night, the girls went to a special dinner at the “Baron of Beef” Restaurant in Gutter Lane. Three more candidates arrived during that weekend: Miss CHILE (María del Pilar Aguirre Gómez), Miss PORTUGAL (Maria Penedo) and Miss TURKEY (Gulseren Kocaman).

Liberia, Surinam and Denmark

                On Monday the 4th they visited the House of Commons in the Palace of Westminster where they had lunch, as was customary, with the parliamentarians. That day the 1962 Miss World, Catharina Lodders and Miss PERU (Lucia Buonanni Dawson) arrived in London. At night, the contestants attended a dance dinner at the Stork Club. On Tuesday the 5th the last candidate arrived in the city: Miss NIGERIA (Therese Gina Onyejiaka) who finally managed to pay for the trip from her pocket. The other contestant who was expected at the last minute, Miss ITALY (Gianna Serra) never arrived in London. The 40 candidates attended that Tuesday a lunch offered by the Variety Club of Great Britain at the Savoy Hotel where they arrived wearing their national costumes and gifts that would be auctioned for the benefit of charity. This event was attended by the honorable presence of the Mayor of London, Sir Ralph Perring. Wednesday the 6th was a day of dress rehearsal and hairdressing in the salon “La Belle” in Aldwych.

Korea and Japan

                When the 40 contestants in the Miss World Contest parade before the judges, the cameras and the public that night, all will be smiling on cue. When the winner of the crown and the $7,000 prize is named, the overwhelming feeling among the 39 losers probably will be relief rather than disappointment. The girls have been cut off from all outside contacts in London. Organizers of the Miss World and other beauty contests do this to preserve an aura of respectability. Actually there’s little to worry about. “The wolves – and there really aren’t many – won’t get anywhere with these girls,” said the chaperone. “Not because the girls aren’t interested in men. It’s because they’re just too busy.” Some of the girls are competing in a beauty contest for the first time, and a few find the continued posing with a toothpaste smile something of a chore. Michele Metrinko, Miss U.S.A. from New York City, is not disturbed by the contest routine. “You feel the way you want to feel when you’re walking past the audience and the judges. It’s all in what you think about yourself,” she said. “But,” she added, “a little smile at the end of the ramp always helps.”


                The first thing Catharina Lodders said on arriving in London on Monday, November 4th was “I’m happy to not be the one who receives the crown on Thursday.” Catharina paid dearly for the year of glory and the capital that reported her victory because multiple trips had lost her boyfriend Hans Elsinga, 28, owner of a garage in Amsterdam. “I thought my happiness was complete when I won the Miss World crown, but now I’ve lost my boyfriend. Our relationship is over. The crown cost me my love” she told the media. However, the future had better things destined for her …


                In 1959, a Scottish journalist had impersonated Miss Bermuda and she was disqualified after being discovered . This year, something similar happened. 18-year-old Lydia Davis showed up at the Waldorf Hotel on November 6th (one day before the finals) identifying herself as Miss Gibraltar, a territory that was not on the list of participants. The girl came to stay at the hotel and unpack her things, however, hours later, Eric Morley discovered that no beauty pageant had been held in Gibraltar, and upon inquiring, he verified that the girl was a London teenager who was posing as a Miss Gibraltar, so he disqualified her and ordered her to leave the hotel as soon as possible …


                Finally, the night of Thursday, November 7th was that of the grand finale of the Miss World 1963, an event organized by Mecca Dancing. As it was traditional, at 7:15 p.m. the doors of the Lyceum Ballroom opened to the public and at 7:55, Joe Loss and his orchestra began to play to announce that they were about to begin the evening of the coronation of the new Miss World. At 8 o’clock at night, eight trumpeters of the Royal Band of Horse Guards, with the permission of Colonel Julian Berry played a fanfare announcing the official start of the beauty event. The manager of Lyceum, Mr. David Havell officially welcomed and introduced the event organizer and Director of Mecca Dancing, Eric Morley, who as always, gave the audience a few words and then introduced the panel of 9 judges. They were:

1- British businessman of South African origin Billy Butlin, general director of numerous camping parks.

2- John Ian Robert Russell, 13th Duke of Bedford.

3- Janet Mountbatten, Marchioness of Milford Haven.

4- English actor John Mills.

5- Charles Eade, journalist and member of the Council of the Commonwealth Press Union, who once again served as Chaiman of the Judges.

6- English comedian, singer and actor Peter Sellers.

7- The Marchioness of Tavistock, Henrietta Joan Tiarks-Russell.

8- The High Commissioner of Trinidad for the United Kingdom, Sir Learie Constantine.

9- American screenwriter and film producer Carl Foreman.

                Then, the procession of nations in evening gows began in what was called “Nations of the World”, which was recorded by the BBC to show it at the beginning of the broadcast. Morley was presenting them one by one in alphabetical order with the name of the country represented and the candidates left the back of the stage, going down the stairs and placed in their final positions. Once all the contestants were on stage at the end of the presentation, the British National Anthem was sung.

                After this, the 40 contestants were presented individually in their formal parade in evening gowns, being divided into two groups of 20 applicants, from Argentina to Jamaica and from Japan to Venezuela. For about four minutes, Joe Loss and his orchestra made a musical intermission while the girls prepared for their next parade. Then came the time of the presentation in bathing suits, again in alphabetical order and divided into two groups, with the pages helping to remove the capes with which the candidates arrived on stage to be evaluated by the judges.

                At 9:10 pm the broadcast of the contest began on the BBC1 screens, an event presented for television by Humphrey Fisher with Brian Johnston as a commentator, showing the prerecording they made at 8 pm with the parade of the 40 contestants in the “Nations of the World” and at the end of the transmission of this segment they were live and direct continuously for 55 minutes (of the original 50 minutes scheduled). After the individual presentation of each of the participants, Morley called the Master of Ceremonies, Peter West, who was to announce the 15 semifinalists, but the results were not ready during the live broadcast and West had to improvise asking Joe Loss and his orchestra to liven up the evening again while Morley hurried the auditor, Charles Jacobs, to deliver the list with the semifinalists. The problem is that in the 15th position there was a tie between several contestants and then Morley decided at the last moment that instead of 15 there would be only 14 semifinalists. Peter West proceeded to call them in alphabetical order and they were:

                Miss BRAZIL (Vera Lúcia Ferreira Maia, 20, a surgeon assistant from Rio de Janeiro); Miss CEYLON (Jennifer Anne Fonseka, 18, a shorthand typist from Colombo although she was a resident in London); Miss COLOMBIA (María Eugenia Cucalón Venegas, 18, a professional model of Neiva, Huila); Miss DENMARK (Aino Korwa, 20, a model and secretary from Copenhagen, who was First Runner-up in Miss Universe that same year); Miss FINLAND (Marja-Liisa Ståhlberg, 19, a Helsinki bank clerk); Miss FRANCE (Muguette Fabris, 23, a math teacher from Naintre); Miss JAMAICA (Carol Joan Crawford, 21, a Kingston model); Miss KOREA (Keum-shil Choi, 22, a Seoul office worker); Miss LIBERIA (23-year-old Ethel Zoe Norman, a telephonist from Monrovia); Miss MALAYSIA (Catherine Loh, 19, a student from Brunei Town – today Bandar Seri Begawan-); Miss NEW ZEALAND (Elaine Miscall, 19, Wellington professional model); Miss SWEDEN (19-year-old Grete Qviberg, Stockholm model); Miss UNITED KINGDOM (20-year-old Diane “Hickingbotham” Westbury, model of Ilkeston, Derbyshire); and Miss UNITED STATES (18-year-old Michele Bettina Metrinko, a diplomacy student who was fluent in Spanish and Russian, from New York City). The 14 semifinalists paraded briefly and individually in swimsuits before the audience and the judges, and then in groups of seven.

               After this, Peter West announced the 7 finalists, who were Miss DENMARK, Miss FINLAND, Miss FRANCE, Miss JAMAICA, Miss NEW ZEALAND, Miss SWEDEN and Miss UNITED KINGDOM. Next, West interviewed each of the finalists individually. Miss Denmark said that she worked as a model in New York and that in Copenhagen she presented a television program. She entered the Miss Denmark contest because her boyfriend had sent her photos without her consent, hoping to win some money for a bet if she managed to be one of the finalists. Miss Finland said that she worked for a bank in public relations, lived with her mother and had no boyfriend. Miss France said that in the case of winning and with the prize money she would set up a clothing store in her country; Miss Jamaica said that she worked for her father’s company and that she did occasional modeling, that her swimsuit, which had caused a sensation in the audience, had being acquired in Miami and talked about the natural wonders of Jamaica, “Come see the Beautiful white sand beaches at home. You’ll love it”, she told West. Miss Jamaica was the most cheered candidate by the public !!. Miss New Zealand said she lived with her parents and brother in Wellington, that she wanted to become a singer and that during her high school studies she was an accomplished athlete. Miss Sweden confessed that she was born in Oslo, that she liked to travel and dancing twist, that she had done modeling work in Paris and that she didn’t like the hairstyle that the Beatles used because she didn’t like men with long hair. Miss United Kingdom, also quite applauded for being the local girl, said that she had been second in the Miss International and that she was not superstitious because in several competitions she had been the 13th candidate and had done very well. finalists made a final parade where the judges would evaluate their deportment.

Colombia, Chile, Ceylon, Canada, Brazil, Bolivia, Belgium and Austria

                After this, the stage turned to present the outgoing Miss World, the Dutch Catharina Lodders, who was sitting on her throne waiting for the outcome of the contest, while the finalists waited behind the scenes. West called on the stage Alan B. Fairley of Mecca Dancing who would deliver the awards and Eric Morley who announced the results in reverse order, starting with fifth place.

                In fifth place was Miss SWEDEN, Grete Qviberg, winner of £ 100; in fourth place, Miss DENMARK, Aino Korwa, who received a check for £ 150; third place winner and £ 250 prize winner, Miss FINLAND, Marja-Liisa Ståhlberg; second and as Miss World runner-up, Miss NEW ZEALAND, Elaine Miscall who won a check for £ 500. All finalists received a silver trophy in the shape of a globe and the first two, additionally, tiaras on their heads placed by Fairley.

                And MISS WORLD 1963, winner of a check for 2500 pounds sterling and a film test of Columbia Pictures, Miss JAMAICA, Carole Joan Crawford. The brand new Miss World left behind the scenes with her Miss World sash, climbed the stairs where Catharina Lodders was waiting for her and who put her ermine cloak on her shoulders and the brilliant crown on her head, while Alan B. Fairley handed the silver trophy and one of the pages, the royal scepter. After parading on the stage of the Lyceum Ballroom while listening to the famous coronation march toned by the Joe Loss orchestra, the new Miss World posed for photographers with her runner-ups.

                The tiny Carole, only 5 feet 3 inches tall (the shortest Miss World in the history of the event), a 21-year-old model and secretary who loves to swim, dance and play tennis, hazel eyes and dark brown hair, body measurements 33-22-33, had become the thirteenth Miss World and the first for the Caribbean island of Jamaica. She had the absolute support of the audience, but not the punters, who cataloged her 50 to 1 in their preferences. She confessed that she was surprised by her triumph, that she was regularly in contact with actress Joan Crawford through correspondence and that she would use the prize money to make a world tour. “I want to see Disneyland and also Mexico,” said the brand new queen. “I never really expected it,” said Miss Crawford after her election at the ornate Lyceum Ballroom in London. “I’m excited but I’m sure I’m enjoying it.” “I thought Miss United Kingdom was going to win” she concluded.

                The first thing she did as Miss World was to run to the phone and make a long distance call to her father Vinton Crawford, owner of the Tropical Trading Company in Kingston. Her mother, Mrs. Edna May Crawford, saw her win. “I thought she could get into the first fifteen. When she managed to enter the first seven, I was delighted. But I stopped thinking about her victory. I feel very proud”. This year there were no tears or angry screams from the losers, in public. There were some excellent reasons for that. The organizers took the losers to their dressing rooms and placed guards on the doors. Reporters were not allowed near them. The winner scoffed at the suggestion that there had been any jealousy or ill-feeling among the losers. “There was no back-biting,” she said. “No one said anything unpleasant to me. I only heard nice things.” However, later, some girls gave their opinion about the results. Miss New Zealand confessed that she gave a gasp when she heard the final results. “I must say that I was a little surprised to hear the verdict. I would not have chosen her as the winner but everyone has their own concept of what beauty is.”

                The coronation party was held, as always, at the Café de Paris, where the prizes were awarded to sixth place, Miss France, Muguette Fabris, who obtained 50 pounds sterling, and seventh, which corresponded to Miss United Kingdom, Diane Westbury with £ 25. The next day, the brand new Miss World received the journalists in her room at the Waldorf Hotel, while having breakfast in bed and reading the press where they announced their triumph. After that, she traveled to Glasgow, Scotland, where she attended a courtesy visit to the “Thompson Television International” and on November 12th she left London to tour the continent, courtesy of the organizers of Miss Europe. She visited Brussels, Hamburg, Cologne, Bonn, Munich and Berlin, where she attended on the 15th the election of “Mister Berlin” and where she toured the famous wall that separated West and East Germany. From there she stayed a few days in Paris before returning to London on November 20th. The next day, Thursday, November 21st, she posed at the Waldorf Hotel for the official photos that would be used in the issuance of official stamps ordered by the Jamaican government in commemoration of her triumph. On Friday the 22nd, she returned to Jamaica via New York where she was received as a celebrity and where she received many tributes.

                The broadcast of the contest was seen by 9 million viewers through the BBC. It tied for first place next to the “Royal Variety Performance” program that day and became the fourth most watched show that week.


                Miss Jamaica, Carole Joan Crawford, was a 21-year-old model and secretarial help for her father. When she won the contest it was quite a sensation because never before had a girl of her size and statistics (5 feet 3 inches tall 33-22-33) seemed to have a chance. It was always thought that the taller girls with the statuesque figures were the ones most likely to win and she didn’t fit into this image at all. She is the smallest contestant ever to win the title.

               Yet, she was fully deserving of her win. On contest night she was quite outstanding and looked a winner from the moment she appeared in a startlingly designed swimsuit which made her appear taller than she was. It provocatively incorporated a zip-up front with a scooped back that left the audience, and the television viewers, gasping. It was shaped to cover her figure in the front right up to her neck, which also accentuated her 33 inch bust, and had a very low-cut back which at that time was quite unique.

               “Yes, my costume did have quite a stimulating effect!” admits Carole. “I just happened to spot it in a boutique while in Miami and I thought that it would be ideal for the contest.” Miss Jamaica was an extremely well-educated and intelligent girl and quite obviously no little thought had gone into the style of her costume and the fact that it would enhance her chances of winning.

               But Miss Jamaica just had the elusive something which was different and caught the judges’ eyes. Her swimsuit was styled so that it went right up to her neck at the front and made her look taller, whereas most of the other girls that year were wearing very low cut swimsuits. The difference was most marked. She was a very sincere, easy going girl with a long, natural hair style which contrasted dramatically with many of the other competitors who had followed the fashionable trend of elaborate, upswept styles. In spite of being an uncomplicated girl, I suspect Miss Jamaica was also very shrewd and that no little thought and psychology had been put into her decision to appear so “natural” in the unusual swimsuit which not only added to her height but also accentuated her rather small bust.

                From the moment the girl appeared on the stage it was obvious that she was going to win. Everybody in the hall accepted her, but it was found out afterwards that she did not come over so well on television. However, so delighted were the Jamaican Government that she had won, they even struck a Miss World stamp in her honour and it is believed some nine million stamps were sold and became collectors’ items.

                Of course the fortunate Miss World is the one with the genuine mother who stays in the background and feels only pride for her. But even the genuine Mum can really upset the apple cart – if her daughter should win. Because it is that well-meaning Mum who decides in the year=s reign to chaperon her daughter herself. One typical case was that of Carole Joan Crawford, the tiny Jamaican beauty whose homeland went wild when she beat the statuesque amazons to win the title. Banquets were thrown in Carole’s honour, a special commemorative stamp was issued and even the country’s Prime Minister was at the airport to greet her.

                But Carole’s mother saw the gates of high society opening for them. She returned to Europe with her daughter to engage the diplomatic and social courts of London, Paris and Rome. “Mother just dictated an itinerary which conflicted with the programme that Miss World had organised. Thousands of pounds worth of engagements, from fashion and promotional work to personal appearances, had to be cancelled”, a woeful organiser recalls.

               Six months into her reign Carole, assessing her diminishing funds, began to question whether Mum had been right after all. “Mum thought she was right. She tried to do the things that were best for me . . .”

                Carole came to re-enlist the aid of the Miss World organisation and managed to salvage three or four months work in the process. Eric Morley refrained from lecturing her: “The work had been lost and there was no point. But had she listened to us from the beginning she would have made so much more. We lay on the best possible professional advice for Miss World to follow, so that she will benefit to the maximum from her title. After all, she is only Miss World once”.

                Unfortunately, when mother puts her oar in, then invariably it means trouble. This also applies to the odd boy-friend who frequently likes to get in on the act. “We say it so often. But if only Miss World would listen to us, because we are the experts, then her year would be free from all regrettable situations”.

               Carole was wooed from post to post as she travelled round the world but she finally snubbed all the playboy aspirants by marrying a man she met on a blind date at home in Kingston, Jamaica.”I do not imagine that many of the men I met during Miss World would believe that, but it is true”, says Carole. “Some friends of mine threw a party when I got home from one tour and they arranged a blind date for me. It was then I came face to face with the man who was to become my husband. We fell in love instantly”. Carole’s “blind” date was Klaus Merkens, a German-born industrial importer to Jamaica. Carole said that becoming Miss World “took away my shyness and made me self-possessed”.


                Carole Joan Crawford was born in Jamaica on August 31st, 1942 under the sign of Virgo. Her parents were Vinton Reginald Crawford and Edna May Crawford. She grew up in Kingston and studied at Wolmers College for girls. She entered her first beauty pageant at the age of 19, winning the title of Miss Jamaica during the celebrations of the independence of the Caribbean island, sponsored by the Pepsi Cola, a drink of which she has been a fan all her life. “I’ve never done anything like that before and it was a great job at that time to get my father’s permission to participate in a beauty contest.” She worked as a secretary in her father’s company and made an occasional fashion show. After her election in Jamaica she visited New York City before heading to London for the Miss World contest. The night of the contest she did not think she was going to win because she thought she was very short and was actually behind the stage preparing to return home, when suddenly she was called as a semifinalist and had to put her outfit back on stage. That night, on Thursday, November 7th, Miss World 1963 was crowned before a wild audience. After winning the title she traveled through several European cities and posed for the official photos of the commemorative stamp in her honor in London. On November 23rd she returned to Jamaica where she was received by the Prime Minister, Alexander Bustamante.

               “The reception when I returned was simply fantastic. The airport was filled with people welcoming me. The Government had issued millions of commemorative stamps with my picture in my swimsuit on it. There were receptions with Sir Alexander Bustamante and Governor General Sir Clifford Campbell and his wife. I was presented with the gold key to the city of Kingston”, Carole recalls excitedly.

                During her reign year it was speculated that she could be the new Bond Girl but she rejected acting. She returned to London to crown her successor in 1964 and that year, on a blind date she met the German businessman Klaus Merkens, with whom she became engaged in September 1965 and with whom she married in early 1966. She had two children: Stephan Klaus born in 1970 and Daniela Veruschka in 1974. She continued to live in Kingston until she emigrated with her family to Toronto, Canada in 1977. She was invited at the celebrations of the 25 years of Miss World in London in 1975 and in the 50th anniversary in the year 2000. The rest of her life was devoted to being a housewife and taking care of her children without forgetting her roots. “I am proud to be Jamaican. Although I no longer live in Jamaica, a part of me will always be there.” She currently has 4 grandchildren and lives in Ottawa, Canada.

                Regarding Miss World, she said the competition has changed in the years since she won. “The Miss World contest has changed over the years, with emphasis now on ‘beauty with a purpose’ and many charities and more countries are competing.” When she participated, only 40 countries were in the pageant. Today more than 110 countries compete each year. Crawford-Merkens still sees great value in the competition. “I think it is of great benefit to a country when its contestant wins the Miss World crown. She immediately becomes a goodwill ambassador, traveling the world promoting her country, tourism and commerce.”


                Some of the other participants achieved some fame after passing through the Miss World contest. For example, Mexican Ana Beatriz Martínez Solórzano became an actress of soap operas in her country with the artistic name of Ana Martín. She debuted as a film actress in 1965 and on television in 1969 and is still currently acclaimed. She won TV y Novelas awards as best actress in 2004, 2008 and 2014 for her roles in the soap operas “Amor Real”, “Destilando Amor” and “Amores Verdaderos”. In interviews with the Mexican media, she minded-up that she had been a semifinalist in Miss World, but that she had been disqualified for being 17 years old. She also said that her greatest ambition was to marry and form a home, but she never did, declaring that “I never believed in that ‘until death do us part’, I believed rather in free love, wanting a person without coming to commit ourselves, it didn’t mean for my debauchery either, since I’ve always led a quiet life dedicated to my work, I think the most important thing for a human being is freedom” .

                The Colombian María Eugenia Cucalón Venegas after her participation in Miss World, she modeled in Europe, participated in the Queen of Petroleum in Barrancabermeja and then was elected queen of that city, for which she was given a massive tribute. After being a beauty queen, she dedicated herself to politics. Her activities in the public sector began in Santafé de Bogotá as minor mayor of the Tunjuelito area. Then, Ascabares, an association of street women launched her to the Council of Bogotá. She was not chosen but never stopped telling this story when talking about it is about. She married and had two children. When her husband bought some properties in Huila, she could not be far from political activity, so she agreed to launch herself at the Council of Neiva and was even about to be a candidate for mayor of this city. A short time later she traveled to the United States. Upon returning to Colombia, she acquired the San José farm in Carmen de Apicalá. Since then, all her energy has overflowed towards community work in the area. She was twice Councilor of the municipality and assumed as mayor of that municipality in the mid-1990s. For her, Carmen de Apicalá is one of the most beautiful places in Tolima. María Eugenia died tragically at the end of May 2010 in a traffic accident on the road that leads from Barranquilla to Cartagena.

                Another who entered the world of politics was the Liberian Ethel Zoe Norman, who worked on the constitution of her country in the 1980s. The Englishwoman Diane Westbury participated and won the title of Miss Great Britain in Morecambe in 1965 and did some roles in the cinema until the late 1960s. The Danish Aino Korwa also made films in the mid-decade.

                Others such as the Venezuelan Milagros Galíndez, dedicated themselves to their home. After the contest, she worked briefly as a model, made a commercial for hairspray, for the Helena Curtis brand. In October 1964, she married Dr. Gilberto Dávila. She became the mother of three children, being the oldest María Gabriela, followed by María Eugenia and then her youngest son Gilberto was born. She is currently residing in Caracas, happily married. She is grandmother of six grandchildren. Her life is spent traveling to visit her children and grandchildren who do not live in the country.


Thanks to Donald West, Daryl Schabinger, Stephan Merkens, Tony Hidalgo, José Medel Bello, William Prendiz de Jurado, Carlos Cepeda and Glamour Argentino.


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