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Miss World 1966

By Julio Rodríguez Matute


              1966 was very difficult for Eric Morley. Morley, who lived with his family in Dulwich, received a call to court at the beginning of January due to the use of the title “Miss Britain” he had created to send his winners to Miss International. The plaintiffs were the owners of the “Miss Great Britain” contest, once Morley’s allies, who protested the commercial use of the title for being very similar to theirs. When Morley created “Miss Britain” in 1961, he did not know that another contest with a similar name but dedicated to bodybuilding already existed, however the owners of that event did not complain because the commercial purposes were different. The Miss Great Britain, was an event originally called “National Bathing Beauty Contest” and Morley, at that time a partner of that event, renamed “Miss Great Britain” in order to give some relevance to the contest since the winner would later compete in Miss World. The owners of Miss Great Britain filed an appeal in May 1962 that was unsuccessful. The complaint lasted for years until finally, in January 1966 the case reached the courts. Morecambe & Heysham demanded that the name used by Morley was very similar to the one they used since 1949, which would lead to confusion and that although the winner of the Morley title was “Miss Britain”, that title was not used in the Miss International as in it participated representatives of England, Wales and Scotland.

Eric Morley

                Initially, Morley tried to join forces with Morecambe, suggesting that they choose Miss Britain but then the winner would go to Morley to prepare her for Miss International, whose franchise he was running. Morecambe & Heysham refused, they just wanted Morley to stop using the name “Miss Britain” and give them the rights to send their queen to Miss International, but Morley refused. For 9 days Morley had to go to court to try to convince the jury that the contest was already in its fifth year and at that time there had been no confusion, that both contests were held in different seasons of the year; that the Morley event was not held in any coastal town that was a rival to Morecambe and that the name “Miss Britain” was invented by him. While Morecambe took their Miss Britain winners as witnesses, Morley introduced the editor of “Health and Strenght” magazine, Mr. Andrew Webb, who used the title of “Miss Britain” long before and who said in court that he did not understand how both sides fought the use of the word “Britain” when he had already patented it years before, but despite if the name was identical to that used by Morley, he did not object because it did not bring him any problem. Finally, the judge Justice Buckley issued his final verdict in the month of October of that year in favor of Morley! At that time, his wife Julia was not involved in the contest; She was dedicated to caring for her four children, John of 8, Stephen of 5, Michael of 3, and Julian of 2.


                Among the important events of this year I can highlight the continuation of the Vietnam War and the massive popular demonstrations against the war in the US. The issue of racism continued in full swing in that country. Activist Martin Luther King Jr was injured when he received a stone in Chicago during a march for the rights of blacks. On February 3, the Russian spacecraft “Moon 9”, achieved the first moon landing. The mission was an engineering success that helped answer key issues on the lunar surface and paved the way for the first manned missions; Months later, the North American “Surveyor I” spacecraft also reached the moon. Amid a national famine, Indira Gandhi was elected Prime Minister of India. British Guiana, Bechuanaland and Basutoland became independent from the United Kingdom by adopting the name of Guyana, Botswana and Lesotho respectively. Another country that achieved independence from Great Britain that year was Barbados. Guyana annexed the Esequibo, a territory claimed since then by Venezuela. In July, in the US, an air strike affected 60% of the flights of that country for 43 days and France blew up its first atomic bomb in the Mururoa atoll in the Pacific Ocean. Earthquakes leave thousands dead in eastern Turkey (August) and two hundred victims in Lima, Peru (October). On November 12, a total solar eclipse occurred in South America.

                In Mexico, the Azteca Stadium was inaugurated while in England, the football team won its only World Cup so far in its own home by defeating Federal Germany with a score of 4 to 2. In Miami Beach, Sweden’s Margareta Arvidsson won the second crown of Miss Universe for her country, an event that was first broadcast in colors by CBS (July) and the Miss International contest was not held for the first and only time since its creation and was postponed to April 1967. This pageant was about to be discontinued due to lack of interest on the part of the Long Beach City Hall. In the United States, TV channels began broadcasting their complete programming and for the first time in color; one of the most watched series was “Lost in Space”, which first aired in black and white in September 1965, with its second season shown completely in color in 1966. Other popular series of that year were Bonanza, the Lucy’s Show, I dream of Jeannie, Batman and Daktari. The Beatles continued to be a worldwide musical sensation despite John Lennon’s misguided words in saying that they were “more popular than Jesus”, however, until that year they performed concerts, being their last live performance in San Francisco in the month of August. In 1966 the supermodel Cindy Crawford, singer Sinéad O’Connor, actresses Salma Hayek and Halle Berry (finalist in Miss World 1986) were born, in addition to myself. On December 15 Walt Disney died of lung cancer.


               The Miss World contest was getting bigger and bigger every year. In 1966 invitations were sent to more than 70 nations and, in spite of the scandal of the incumbent photos of the titleholder, Lesley Langley, a total of 66 countries confirmed, at first, their assistance, including two from the communist bloc. That year, in Australia and Peru there was no selection of any representatives heading to London while national competitions were not held in Liberia, Portugal and Tunisia. In Jordan there was no contest, but the Jordan director sent the queen of 1964 who could not participate in Miss World at that time. In Nicaragua, no contest was held that year, but the organizers decided that they would send the winner of 1965 who had been awarded as the most popular candidate in the Miss International competition.

Miss India

                On December 31, 1965 in Vendome the new “Miss France 1966” was crowned in an event that had 28 contestants. The winner was Miss Cannes, Michèle Boulé who won her right to go to Miss World. The finalists were Monique Boucher (Miss Charente) and Claude Felirath (Miss Alsace). On Friday, April 1, the election of Miss Switzerland was held and the organizers decided to take again the rights of Miss World after several years of absence. The winner, Hedy Frick, would go to Miss Universe and Miss Europe, the 1st. Runner-up, Ursula “Uschy” Isler to Miss International and the 2nd. Runner-up, Janine Sollner to Miss World. By the way, her sister Patrice was Miss Switzerland in 1969. On June 14, at the Teatro del Este in Caracas, the election of Miss Venezuela was held among 15 candidates. For Miss World, Jenette Kopp Arenas was chosen. Her sister, Peggy Kopp, was Miss Venezuela two years later and achieved the 3rd. Runner-up position at Miss Universe. On Friday, July 1 in Niagara Falls, Diane Coulter, 18, of Lemington was elected as the new “Miss Dominion of Canada 1966” who would have the right to represent her country in both the Miss Universe and the Miss World contests. But, after being elected, the beautiful queen became ill so she could not travel to Miss Universe. In her place went Marjorie Schofield who was the 1st Runner-up. The other finalist was Lynette Thom. In Miss Brazil there were changes, the 1st. Runner-up would be sent this year to Miss World.

               The beauty queen business finally made its way through the Iron Curtain. The contest “Divka Ruku” (Girl of the year), the precursor of Miss Czechoslovakia, was held on July 5 and the winner Dagmar Silvínová was invited to participate in Miss World, however, she did not get the corresponding permission from the government. In late 1965, the British Ambassador to Belgrade contacted the journalist Pavel Lukac of the newspaper “Politika” to organize a beauty pageant in Yugoslavia for Miss World. The newspaper conducted preliminary competitions in the six Yugoslav Republics. At the beginning of October, the final of the Miss Yugoslavia contest in Belgrade was held among 24 participants, and the winner was 19-year-old Nikica Marinovic from Dubrovnic (Croatia), who would be the first representative of a communist bloc country in London. Nikica was the daughter of a fisherman from Dubrovnik, did not speak English and it was the first time she was going to leave her country.

                On Wednesday, August 3, in the Hall of the Association of journalists of Guayaquil, Miss Alexandra Vallejo Klaere was officially appointed as “Miss Ecuador 1966”. Alexandra was also Queen of the Ecuadorian Air Force. On Tuesday, August 9, the “Miss United Kingdom 1966” contest was held in Blackpool with 40 participants and where Jennifer Lowe was elected. She kept alive her hopes of becoming the third British to win the Miss World title in a row. As I mentioned in the 1965 article, Lesley Langley did not attend the election despite having been invited. The new Miss United Kingdom was crowned by TV host McDonald Hobley and the finalists were Joan Ashley and Valerie Holmes. On Saturday, August 21, at the Ohio State Fair in the city of Columbus, the final of the “Miss USA World 1966” was held, an event that was attended by 50 candidates from 46 states of the union. At the event, which was sponsored by Bob Hope, Miss Utah, Denise Blair, a 19-year-old fashion marketing secretary and student, emerged as the winner. The finalists were Miss Florida, Christine Fisher and Miss Virginia, Patricia Rea Shaper. They completed the Top 7: Miss Los Angeles, Gigi Dahl; Miss Missouri, Eva Sugarbaker; Miss Ohio, Cindy Oliver and Miss New Mexico, Jane Nelson.

                On Sunday, September 4, Daniela Giordano, Miss Sicily, was crowned “Miss Italy 1966” in Salsomaggiore, however, Enzo Mirigliani decided not to send anyone disgusted by what happened in 1965 with the consecutive triumph of a British girl and for the scandalous photos of Lesley. When it seemed that Italy would not have a representative, at the last minute, a model agency sent Gigliola Carbonara, 23, to the Miss World competition. At the end of September, the “Eve’s Weekly Miss India” contest was held after a two-year recess, the 23-year-old medical student Reita Faria, Miss Bombay was chosen as the winner. Among the judges was the brand new Miss United Kingdom, Jennifer Lowe. After the suspension of the contest the previous year due to the civil war, the “Dominican Beauty Contest” was held again on September 30 in Santo Domingo. For the first time, Miss Azucar, Jeannette Dotel Montes de Oca, would represent the Dominican Republic in Miss World instead of Miss Universe, because the national beauty pageant was held late. The organization “Miss Mexico in Los Angeles” pre-registered their 1965 queen in Miss World of 1966. Ana Elena Noreña Grass was unable to attend London the previous year. However, days before traveling to the British capital, the young woman decided to return to Mexico as she had some proposals for acting. She had to be replaced at the last minute by the newly elected queen of 1966, María Cecilia González DuPree, who had just 24 hours to prepare her unexpected trip to London.


                As was traditional, one of the Miss Holland finalists would be sent to London to Miss World. On this occasion, this honor corresponded to the 3rd. Runner-up, Anneke Geerts. But just before leaving for London she confessed her biggest secret: That she was a married woman … and officially married candidates were not allowed to compete in Miss World. “3 months ago I got married but I didn’t give any publicity to the marriage. Mr. Broerse, who organizes the Miss World contest, preferred that my marriage to be postponed for 3 months, after the Miss World finals. But I couldn’t do anything about it, we had to get married for a house we could get, and I didn’t want to lose it. Besides that, I think a marriage is more important than a beauty pageant”, she told the press. Her husband, Rinus Groeveur, a technical advisor for a plastics company, said: “We thought at that time that Anneke would no longer be sent, but then Piet Broerse called Anneke again to find out if she still wanted to go and that was what she decided to do. They asked us not to advertise the marriage. ” I am very relieved to have told the truth”, she said, “and I think there have been more married beauty queens. People don’t like it because they are no longer a “Miss” once married But after all, Mr. Broerse fixed it and I’m very happy to be married. My husband Rinus and I are very happy and the Miss World contest will be my last competition; a contest is, of course, something silly and very unimportant. I do this because it is the first time I am going to London and I hope to spend some great days, because they will take good care of us. I will have a chaperone.” The biggest problem besides her secret marriage was her height, she confessed. She felt small at 1.66 m but always said she was 1.68 to look taller … Anneke Geerts, who was now Mrs. Groeveur, traveled to London alone. Her husband could not accompany her on work issues. Happily for her and because there was no internet or social networks at that time, Morley did not discover her secular status and she was able to participate without any problem …


                The first edition of “Miss World Singapore” would take place on Sunday October 9 at the Raffles Hotel with the participation of 10 finalists, selected in a preliminary from a total of 18 contestants. But the day before, the organizers decided that the winner would no longer go to Miss World, due to the resignation of one of the organizers, the confrontation of some contestants and the withdrawal of the sponsors and they had to rename the contest as “Miss Charity Queen “. The winner of this new contest would not go to any international event. Several participants preferred to withdraw because they had signed up for the contest with the illusion of going to London. After this, the organizers allowed the 8 girls already eliminated to participate in the finals. One of those eliminated in the semifinal, Catherina Chang, 19, won the title where 11 ladies finally participated, but she was left out with no chance to represent Singapore internationally …


                In the finals of the “Miss Malaysia for Miss World 1966” contest held at the Negara Stadium in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, October 14, the organizers had to mind up because of the government was banning contestants from parading in bathing suits. Then they thought that instead of swimsuits they would wear “Mini-Sarongs”. The winner was Merlyn McKelvie, an 18-year-old bank receptionist, who was Miss Selangor (the second consecutive national title for that state), while the finalists were Tengku Maheran binte Tengku Mokhtar and Fauziah binte Nurudin. 9 finalists participated.


Miss Germany

                The week of competition of the 16th edition of Miss World would take place, as always, in London from November 10 to 18. Of the 66 countries that had been confirmed at first, Czechoslovakia and Singapore had already been eliminated in October. A third representative was removed from the list before starting the competition, she was Miss TAHITI (Sonia Agnieray) who would not travel to London for unknown reasons. With 63 nations still on the list, the Miss World contest promised to be the busiest event in history. However, three other countries withdrew at the beginning of November. Miss SPAIN (Paquita Torres Pérez) announced to the media in her country that she would not attend Miss World due to the presence of Miss Gibraltar, just as her predecessor did the previous year. She said: “I don’t understand politics, but I do understand that I shouldn’t go. As an Andalusian, the British flag on the Rock offends me.” For unknown reasons, the Austrian Evi Rieck and the Bolivian Toty López were also removed from the list of participants.

               Miss Yvonne Walter, Miss Jamaica 1966, lef her country Sunday afternoon (Nov.6) for the Miss World beauty contest in London. She left by Jamaica Air Service for Montego Bay, and to New York by Lufthansa flight 493. Before her departure, Miss Walter was presented with a specially made box of Jamaican cigars, which she would present to the Lord Mayor of London, while she is in England. The box, made of blue Mahoe, is inlaid with a map of Jamaica, cut from Satinwood with strips of Logwood, Mahoe, and Spanish Elm. The lettering inside the cover reads: “Royal Jamaican Cigars – With the compliments of Miss Jamaica 1966,” and each cigar band is lettered “With the Compliments of Miss Jamaica 1966.” The box of cigars was donated to the Miss Jamaica Organizing Committee by the Jamaica Tobacco Company Limited. Miss Walter, chaperoned by Lady Henriques, was going to spend two days in New York before going on to London via Frankfurt. They are due to arrive in London on November 9, and would begin their official programme then. While being entertained in the VIP lounge at the airport, Miss Walter said that she enjoyed her first three months of being Miss Jamaica. This was her first trip away from Jamaica and she has been looking forward to it. Asked if she was nervous about the trip, Miss Walter said that she was not nervous now, but she might be when she arrives in London.

                Firyal Jelal, who won the title of Miss Syria, posed in Damascus in a bikini strictly against the Moslem tradition which bars a girl from appearing before the public in a bathing suit. Miss Jelal, whose measurements are 38-24-38, is a television announcer in Damascus. In winning the title she appeared before judges clad in a dress that covered her almost from neck to toes. She traveled to the Miss World contest on Wednesday, November 9.

                The first to arrive in London was Miss Malaysia on Thursday, November 3. Subsequently, on Saturday the 5th Miss Yugoslavia arrived, on Sunday the 6th Miss Israel and on Monday the 7th Miss South Africa. On Wednesday 9, Miss Japan, Miss Jordan, Miss Lebanon, Miss Syria, Miss Cyprus, Miss Morocco, Miss Iceland, Miss Philippines and Miss New Zealand arrived. An advanced guard of more than a dozen curvaceous students, models and secretaries posed for the photographers at the host hotel of the contest. At the Waldorf reception, a blackboard announced the list of countries that had arrived and those that were about to arrive.

                Miss Jamaica 1966, Miss Yvonne Walter, arrived in London on Wednesday, Nov. 9, to participate in the Miss World competition. She was accompanied by her chaperone Lady Henriques. They were met at the London Airport by Miss Hyacinth Smith and Mr. Raman Gordon, Information and Protocol Officers in London, representatives of the Rediffusion Group of Companies of the United Kingdom and by representatives of the Mecca Organization which sponsor the Miss World Competition. Miss Walter posed for photographers before leaving for the Waldorf Hotel where she would be staying until after the contest. Yvonne’s first engagement was a courtesy call on the Jamaican High Commissioner in London, Mr. H. L. Lindo, at his office. After being presented with “Jamaica Night” perfume and cologne by Mr. David Girvan of the Jamaica Industrial Development Corporation in London, Miss Walker and her chaperone talked informally with the High Commissioner and members of his staff. “Jamaica Night” perfume is manufactured in Jamaica exclusively for the European Market..

               Finally, preparations for the Miss World contest were launched on Thursday, November 10, which was the official arrival date. That day, a contingent of 33 beauties made their appearance at Heathrow Airport, while the local contestant arrived at the Euston train station to total 48 participants. Around 60 contestants would have their eyes fixed on the Miss World title and the 2,500-pound cash prize ($ 7,000) that accompanied it.

                Denice Blair, reigning Miss U.S.A. from Layton, Utah, arrived that day and said it was about time a non-British girl won the Miss World beauty contest. In the last five years, three of the title winners were British. Asked by airport reporters if the thought this international beauty contest was due for a change of location, the 19-year-old secretary replied: “I think they are due for a change of country winning, but I’m not bothered about the contest being held here.” Miss Blair, who measures 36-23-36, has hazel eyes and brown hair. Her arrival turned out to be quite a family affair. Accompanied by her mother and grandmother, she was met at the airport by Patrick Neven, a great-uncle she never had seen. Neven brought his wife along and two daughters. He is an artist and director from Pinner, near London.


                You could say the United States is represented by two beautiful girls in the Miss World contest – but Mexico wouldn’t like it very much. Besides Miss U.S.A., from Pasadena, Calif., came Miss Mexico, Maria Cecilia Gonzalez DuPree, an 18-year-old smiling senorita. Although each was anxious to put her prettiest foot forward on behalf of the U.S.A. and Mexico respectively, both typify the sort of wholesome, healthy beauty usually described as “all-American girl.” Along with nearly 60 other contestants in the international beauty contest held in London annually, they were going to meet the press Friday before beginning the round of rehearsals, sightseeing trips and parties leading up to the competition next Thursday. Denice blushed slightly and answered with a smile when a British reporter asked her if all American beauty queens were Mormons. Last year’s Miss U.S.A. had been a Mormon, he recalled, and … “Well,” said Denice thoughtfully, “I think many Mormon girls are beautiful because they believe in keeping the rules of their religion, they don’t drink any alcoholic beverages or use tobacco. I think your complexion and health are probably better if you don’t use them.” And Maria laughed when reporters approached, stared hard at her label proclaiming “Miss Mexico” and asked carefully, “Do you speak English?” “Sure,” she said in her best California accent. Maria, a psychology major at Pasadena City College, and the daughter of a Mexican diplomat, was chosen “Miss Mexico in Los Angeles“ [sponsored by the Mexican Welfare Committee] and then asked by the Mexican government to represent them in the international competition. “We moved to California from Mexico City when I was about 10 years old,” she said. “I used to have a terrible accent. I expect to stay in the states until I get my doctor’s degree because I want to be a clinical psychologist, but then I’ll probably go back to Mexico to work.” She paused, her dark eyes sparkling. “Unless I marry an American fella,” she said, in a pure California accent.


                Miss RHODESIA (Gaynor Watts), who should have arrived that Thursday, was prevented at the last minute from traveling to London by the government of her country, due to the monetary control imposed by the British boycott against the African country, which had declared unilaterally its independence from the United Kingdom and had left the British Commonwealth.


                On the morning of Friday, November 11, the 48 young women who had so far arrived in the British capital received the press at the hotel where they were interviewed. Later, after lunch, they made an official visit to Trafalgar Square where they posed for the photos to the delight of graphic reporters. Although at that time she was the center of attraction, covered by London-friendly pigeons and the objective of the lens of a cameraman, the state of Israel ordered that day to Miss Israel, Sgula Gohar, to appear for service in the army in the next February. That same morning, one more participant arrived, Miss Gibraltar, who was received at the airport by her two brothers, Frank and Hubert Thomas, who were members of a pop group that played in Britain. Then, in the afternoon, the contestants returned to the Waldorf Hotel, where they were staying, and where the usual Press Presentation in swimsuits was held on this occasion. The only contestant to wear a two-piece swimsuit was Miss Trinidad and Tobago, although Miss Ceylon used a “hybrid” between bikini and a one-piece, as the two pieces of the swimsuit were barely joined by thin strips of cloth.

                The 49 candidates who posed for the media at the Official Presentation were: Miss ARUBA (Reina Patricia Hernández), Miss BAHAMAS (Dorothy Cooper), Miss BELGIUM (Mireille De Man), Miss BRAZIL (Marlucci Manvailler Rocha), Miss CANADA (Diane Coulter), Miss CEYLON (Priscilla Martenstyn), Miss COSTA RICA (Sonia Mora), Miss CYPRUS (Annoula Aivaliotou), Miss DENMARK (Irene Poller Hansen), Miss DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (Jeannette Altagracia Dotel Montes de Oca), Miss ECUADOR (Alexandra Vallejo Klaere), Miss FINLAND (Marita Gellman), Miss FRANCE (Michèle Boulé), Miss GAMBIA (Oumie Barry), Miss GERMANY (Jutta Danske), Miss GIBRALTAR (Grace Valverde), Miss GREECE (Efi Fontini Ploumbi), Miss GUYANA (Umblita Claire Van Sluytman), Miss HOLLAND (Anneke Geerts), Miss HONDURAS (Danira Miralda Buines), Miss ICELAND (Audur Hardardóttir), Miss INDIA (Reita Faria), Miss IRELAND (Helen McMahon), Miss ISRAEL (Sgula Gohar), Miss JAMAICA ( Yvonne Walter), Miss JAPAN (Harumi Kobayashi), Miss JORDAN (Vera Jalil Khamis), Miss KOREA (Eul-sun Chung), Miss LEBANON (Marlene Talih), Miss LUXEMBOURG (Mariette Sophie Stephano), Miss MALAYSIA (Merlyn Therese McKelvie), Miss MALTA (Monica Sunnura), Miss MEXICO (Maria Cecilia González DuPree), Miss MOROCCO (Naima Naim), Miss NEW ZEALAND (Heather Gettings), Miss NIGERIA (Uzor Okafor), Miss NORWAY (Birgit Andersen), Miss PHILIPPINES (Vivienne Lee Austria), Miss SOUTH AFRICA (Johanna Maud Carter), Miss SURINAM (Linda Haselhoef), Miss SWEDEN (Gunilla Ingrid Anna Andersson), Miss SWITZERLAND (Janine Söllner), Miss SYRIA (Firyal Jelal), Miss TRINIDAD and TOBAGO (Diane DeFreitas), Miss TURKEY (Inci Asena), Miss UNITED KINGDOM ( Jennifer Lowe), Miss UNITED STATES (Denice Estelle Blair), Miss VENEZUELA (Jenette “Jeannette” Kopp Arenas) and Miss YUGOSLAVIA (Nikica Marinovic).

                As a curious fact, the representative of the Philippines was a Princess in real life. Her real name was Emraida Kelly Kiram, but she artistically changed it to Vivienne Lee Austria for the contest. She was chosen to go to Miss World by the Guild of Editors of Colleges of the Philippines, who obtained the rights to the English contest that year. Emraida had won the title of Intercollegial Girl 1966. Miss Yugoslavia, the first competitor of a communist nation in the Miss World contest, said she would marry Vladimir Raspudic, student and musician in two months. Raspudic, 24, flew to London from Yugoslavia that Friday (November 11), joined the beauty of 19 years of age in her hotel and proposed marriage. One of the most unhappy girls was the blonde Jennifer Lowe, a farmer who represented the United Kingdom. Because British girls had won three of the last six competitions, she said: “Everyone says I have no chance of winning and I’m starting to believe them. I wish I was back home milking cows.”

                After the Press Presentation, the candidates changed and dressed in elegant cocktail dresses to attend the welcome reception held at a West End nightclub, where they dined and had champagne. At 10:30 at night they were back at the hotel, where there was am”curfew” because none could leave it. And the head of chaperones, Janet Musgrave, who was an assistant to Jean Gibbons and worked with Mecca for 5 years, was very aware that they fulfill the orders. That night only two of the four Latin Americans who were expected that day arrived in London: Miss ARGENTINA (Graciela Guardone) and Miss CHILE (Amelia Sonia Galaz Cortés). Miss COLOMBIA (María Estelia Sáenz Calero) and Miss URUGUAY (Susana Regeden) did not arrive due to unknown reasons.




                Saturday, November 12 was the day destined to visit the different tourist points of the British capital. The candidates visited the famous Tower of London, watched the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, visited St. Paul’s Cathedral and Piccadilly Circus. There was also time to visit shopping centers and go shopping. In the evening they attended a reception at the Pigalle Club. That night arrived the emerging Miss ITALY (Gigliola Carbonara). On Sunday 13, the contestants had a free morning to go to church. Then, in the afternoon, they visited the University of Cambridge, toured various colleges and participated in a Cambridge Union debate on a motion, “Beauty is no excuse,” which will be opposed by Miss Philippines on behalf of the contestants.

At the Buckingham Palace

                But just before starting the presentation at Cambridge, when the candidates arrived at the campus, nine students tried to kidnap Miss South Africa but the plan failed. Morley had been warned of the possibility of something happening because it was the week of charity collection of the University, so he hired bodyguards and decided to change the route that the contestants would go through. However, the kidnappers arrived in two cars and two of them tried to drag Miss South Africa to one of the vehicles. She screamed for help and her escort, medical student Michael Silver, hit them with his umbrella while Barre Foster, one of the bodyguards of the Miss World punched one of them in the face. The 22-year-old beauty Johanna Carter fell to her knees in the 30-second fight. Then, the nine kidnappers, who were believed to be South Africans, fled in their vehicles. This kidnapping attempt was part of a plan for the university’s rag week, an annual spree during which the students tried to raise money for charity. The nine students planned to retain Miss Carter for ransom!

               After the incident, Miss South Africa recovered and Miss Philippines gave her place as a speaker in the debate, in which she was successful in winning the debate in opposition to two former presidents of the Union. “Beauty is the only excuse for our existence and your only excuse to bring us here today.” Her words were seconded by Miss New Zealand and both received a great ovation. After the event she commented to the press that “making my speech on such a famous stage was a much more disconcerting experience than the kidnap attempt.”


               The organizers of the Miss World contest disqualified Uzor Okafor, 22, of Nigeria, on Sunday (November 13) after a diplomatic incident about her sponsorship. In addition, it was discovered that Uzor was married and the mother of two daughters, so she was asked to remove her figure of 36-24-37 from the host hotel of the competition. She replied that she never really wanted to participate and that she had done it just because her British husband had urged her to do so. The disqualification followed a statement by Latif Dosumu, Nigeria’s high commissioner in London, denying that Uzor’s participation had any official support. Miss World participants normally came to the contest as winners of beauty competitions in their own countries. But no Miss Nigeria pageant was held that year. Uzor from Lagos said she went to the High Commission of Nigeria in London and was told that she could register as an official candidate. But Dosumu said: “I told her that my government could not get involved in beauty pageants.” Uzor replied “I never said that I had been sponsored by someone. It was a goodwill that I represented the Nigerian government and Mecca knew it.” Eric Morley, head of the chain of restaurants and dance halls that organizes the contest, said that in view of the Nigerian official’s statement, Uzor had to be disqualified. Morley said her registration form had not been signed by a sponsor, something required in the contest rules, so the candidate had broken the rules. The Nigerian beauty packed her things and left the hotel while the other 51 girls slept. “I wish I hadn’t set foot in the contest,” said the woman before returning home in Bayswater accompanied by her husband Bruce Newman, 31, and her daughters, Maxine, 2, and the 7-month old Priscilla.

Miss Canada


                “I am not the real Miss Ceylon, I am a student in London,” said Priscilla Martenstyn. But she would not be disqualified from the contest. A Mecca Promotions officer said they still considered her an official contestant. Priscilla was born in Ceylon but has been living with her family in Mill Hill, London, for the past ten years. “The school gave me permission to leave to take part in the contest.” “I knew that the real Miss Ceylon had declined to participate, so I sent my photographs to the organizers in Ceylon and asked if I could participate instead.” “Then, I received a phone call here in London to tell me that I could enter the contest and that is how I am here as Miss Ceylon.” “But I’ve never been to a beauty pageant in my entire life before.” Priscilla, 19, confessed that she is not allowed to wear makeup to the Orange Hill Grammar School where she studies. But now she spends hours in a beauty salon and wears a sari that a friend lent her. No one knew why the real Miss Ceylon, 20-year-old Lorraine Roosmalecocq had not arrived for the contest. Priscilla said that Lorraine had competed in Miss Universe and then heard that she didn’t want to do anymore. Jean Gibbons of Mecca said they had been told that she would not participate because she had decided to stay in America. “But we are very happy to have Priscilla with us,” Gibbons said. “She may not be the official contestant of her country, but she is the girl selected by the sponsors of her country and that makes us satisfied.” When asked what would happen if she won the contest, Priscilla replied that she would still return to school and resume her studies to try to reach the highest marks.


               On Monday, November 14, the Variety Club’s annual lunch was held at the Savoy Hotel where funds for charity would be collected. As was traditional, Miss World contestants attended dressed in their national costumes and brought their national gifts that would be presented to the Mayor of London. Miss Jordan, a 24-year-old Palestinian Christian secretary who lived in the eastern part of Jerusalem, drew attention as she arrived at the Savoy Hotel dressed in her national costume but riding a camel !! The event was attended by great personalities from the artistic and political milieu of the United Kingdom. After this, the contestants visited the Lyceum Theater for the first time where they recorded the presentation of national costumes that would be broadcast at the beginning of the program on Thursday by the BBC. By the way, the BBC suggested re-running the contest on Thursday, because the previous year they moved it to a Friday and the rating results were not as expected. That day, Morley officially closed the contest and participants who did not arrive on time would no longer be received. In addition to the Colombian and Uruguayan girls who did not arrive despite having been expected on Friday, Miss THAILAND (Supaphon Nilseri), Miss PARAGUAY (Mirtha Martinez Sarubbi) and Miss NICARAGUA (Patricia Estela Mena Singer) did not arrive. The latter excused herself as she was preparing her wedding to be held on January 7. Nor did they arrive despite being on the official list of participants, the representatives of Panama and Senegal, whose identities are unknown.

Ireland, Israel and Italy

                On Tuesday 15, 49 of the contestants (Miss Ireland and Miss Syria did not attend because they had a cold) went to Westminster on the traditional visit to the House of Commons, being honored on this occasion by parliamentarian Stephen Macadden. Before lunch, the girls posed for the photos outside, at the entrance of St. Stephen, but a heavy rain caused the beauty queens to stay inside to keep their hairdos. Then, in the afternoon, the arduous rehearsals began at the Lyceum. At night they returned to the hotel and curfew again. Miss Italia said in her room at the Waldorf hotel, which she shared with Miss Germany and Miss Switzerland, that “I would like to escape and go see the tourist sites by myself, but I can’t, I know that protection is necessary, but this is embarrassing “. The protection came from the 12 chaperones that guarded the beauties. While the beauty queens had their expenses for lodging, laundry, hairdressing and covered meals but had to bring extra money for their other personal expenses, the chaperones charged 4 pounds a day for their work. Was it necessary for beauty queens to feel like caged birds? The 25-year-old chaperone Cynthia Gauvain said “of course it does. If something happened to one of these girls, that would easily become an international incident.”

                Wednesday 16 was a day dedicated to rehearsals and in addition, the contestants visited in groups the “Alan’s Salon” located at the Piccadilly Regent Palace Hotel, to prepare their hairstyles for the night of the grand finale. At the end of the final rehearsal, Morley gave the 51 participants a small souvenir in the form of a globe in a delicate velvet box, as in previous years. Miss Jamaica went to bed that night feeling a bit homesick, not very confident of winning, and with the problem of how to protect her coiffured hair. But Yvonne still felt she would sleep soundly. “Because I don’t think I have got much of a chance. I am not worried about the competition”. She added: “When I knew I was to take part in the competition I thought: Well, everyone has an equal chance. But now I have seen other competitors I think my chances are nil.” She is finding the Miss World contest a bit hectic and regrets not being able to get a proper look at London. All she sees are fleeting glimpses while being bustled from one engagement to another. After that morning’s session at the salon, Yvonne said she would sleep with her face sideways on her arm to keep her hair up. “But if the night gets cold I’ll probably snuggle down into the bed.”


                When Miss India, Reita Faria, arrived in London, she only had £ 3 in her purse. She was wearing a borrowed sari that she had already wore on numerous occasions, brought a swimsuit that was somewhat faded by the use and that it had been lent to her by Miss India 1965, Persis Khambatta; and a gown that had cost £ 15 at a popular market in Bombay.

               “After winning Miss India, the organizers realized that I didn’t even have a passport, so there was a struggle to get my passport and get a visa,” she said. “I didn’t even have the Miss Bombay and Miss India trophies, they didn’t have them ready by when the contest happened. They gave me a wooden replica and a check in an envelope,” she said. Their victories added a princely sum in those days: Rs 5,000 for Miss Bombay and Rs 10,000 for Miss India. “I gave the prize money to my mother, who looked after a child in an orphanage in Mumbai,” Faria said.

                Although she came from a wealthy family in Goa, the reason for her poverty was due to the monetary restrictions of the government of India that prevented any of its citizens from leaving the country with an amount exceeding three pounds sterling. Of the group of contestants she was the “poorest”. But she didn’t care much. In fact, she had no interest in the contest and looked more like a spectator instead of a participant. She never contemplated the idea of ​​being Miss World. She was rather happy to have gone to London with all the expenses paid and enjoyed the tourist tours offered to the fullest. She borrowed some money from some friendly Indian families living in London to buy some gifts and books that would help her in her fifth-year medical studies. She also had to buy another swimsuit because the one she had borrowed was small and heels she had never used before. With her roommate, Miss Ceylon, with whom she made a great friendship, little or nothing she talked about the contest … Although she didn’t have any kind of preparation on the catwalk, she learned only by looking at the other girls while they paraded in rehearsals. That is what is called being an intelligent woman!


                The favorites, according to Glasgow bookmaker John Banks, were Miss South Africa, Miss Sweden and Miss Yugoslavia. All with bets of 10-1. Miss USA and Miss France were right behind them with 12-1. A bookmaker in Belfast, Northern Ireland, mentioned Miss Canada, Diane Coulter as the favorite. Unlike many American beauty pageants, the 63 participants from around the world (who were listed in the bookmakers) did not meet informally with the judges. They paraded the catwalk with evening wear and swimsuits to reduce the group to 15 semifinalists. Then, each of the seven finalists had to answer a question. The winner received £ 2,500 in cash and the opportunity to win up to £ 30,000 in personal appearances and fashion shows during her reign year. The six finalists divided another £ 1,075 in cash prize.

               This year, many of the contestants were already professionals. For example, Miss France and Miss Germany were beauticians, Miss South Africa was a medical research technician and Miss Ireland was a painter and her dream was to have an individual show in London, while Miss Dominican Republic wanted to help in the development of her country. Miss Canada was a model and Miss Japan “just wanted to be a housewife.” This year’s contestants were between the ages of 17 and 25 and their heights were between 5 feet 2 and 5 feet 8.

                Some of the contestants had previously participated in Miss Universe. This was the case of the representatives of Belgium, France, Guyana and New Zealand (in 1966) and Luxembourg (in 1964). Miss Sweden had also participated in Miss Europe 1966, in addition to the Belgian candidate.


                Eric Morley, director of Mecca Promotions, a dance hall company with a capital of £ 5,250,000 confessed to the press that “we don’t do the contest for profit. We do it for prestige.” “All the profits are given to the Variety Club for charity.” Morley said the event cost around £ 25,000 and they received about £ 5,000 annually that they donated to charities. “We negotiate the commercial part of the event.” Of his wife Julia said that “she was a chaperone that I hired to teach me how a Miss World behaved and how a Miss World should behave.” “We got rid of the idea that a chaperone had to be ancient and not able to understand young people.” “Of course, I’m getting fed up with the business, that’s why I delegate administrative work to others.” “This is only one week of 52 and in the other 51 weeks of the year I have other important projects to attend.” Those other projects brought to Mecca earnings of £ 2,634,410, a jump of £ 650,000 with a fixed rate of 23% dividends. From there they gave between 25 and 30 thousand pounds for charities annually.

                But the contest has hit one of Morley’s personal ambitions. He revealed that he had to withdraw from the small list of four prospective candidates for the conservative party for the parliamentary job in Dulwich. “Certain people had prejudices about the clash of interests,” Morley concluded.


                The night of Thursday, November 17 was that of the grand finale of the 16th edition of Miss World, an event that had a record of 51 participants. Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Guyana, the Philippines, Trinidad-Tobago and Yugoslavia were debuting at the contest, while Norway and Switzerland had returned after several years of absence. The Lyceum Theater was crowded and looked beautifully decorated with the scenery designed by John Wood. The contest began, as always, at 8 pm with the fanfare that preceded the British national anthem. The Lyceum manager introduced Eric Morley who gave his brief words of welcome to the audience that filled the premises and after this, Morley presented the panel of judges of the night. On this occasion there were 10 judges. The reason was that Peter Dimmock of the BBC had not secured his assistance and had missed the jury at the last minute last year, so Morley got a replacement preventing his absence. But as Dimmock arrived on time and in order to not to be rude to the other personality, he allowed that year there were 10 judges who would choose the new Miss World. They were:

1- Kaarina Leskinen-Jones, Finnish model and 1st.runner-up of Miss World 1962.

2- Sharmini Tiruchelvam, Ceylonese writer and Television personality.

3- Ty Hardin, American actor.

4- Tiburcio Baja, attache of the Embassy of Philippines.

5- Svetlana Berisova, the famous Lithuanian born ballerina.

6- Peter Dimmock, Executive of the BBC. (Chairman of the judges).

7- Lady Annabel Birley, from the British Socialite.

8- The Ambassador of Thailand, Principe Plerng Nobadol Rabidhadana.

9- Henry Mancini, American composer.

10- Beni Montresor, Italian film director.

                After the presentation of the judges, the 51 participants made their parade of the “nations of the world”, dressed in their elegant ball gowns, finally placing all on the proscenium. Soon the Master of Ceremonies, Peter West, who was in charge of introducing the candidates appeared on the stage. The girls made their individual parade in evening gowns in two groups, the first of 26 candidates (from Argentina to Israel) and the second of 25 (from Italy to Yugoslavia). Phil Tate and his orchestra were responsible for entertaining the musical intermission while the ladies switched to their swimsuits. Again they paraded individually in two groups, as a novelty, this year there were neither pages nor capes. In this presentation in swimsuits, Miss Italy paraded barefoot. It is not known if it was to get attention or because one of her fellow contestants had split a heel …

                At 9:30 at night, the BBC-1 broadcast began with the introduction of Philip Lewis, showing the prerecording they made on Monday with the candidates wearing their national costumes. The 55-minute uninterrupted broadcast of the event featured Michael Aspel as a commentator and was broadcast live and direct at the time the 15 semifinalists were announced. The lucky ones were called in alphabetical order and went to the stage to individually parade their evening gowns. The 15 semifinalists were:

                Miss ARGENTINA (Graciela Guardone, 17, of Buenos Aires); Miss BRAZIL (Marlucci Manvailler Rocha, 18, of Ponta Pora, Mato Grosso do Sul); Miss CANADA (Diane Coulter, 18, of Wheatley, Ontario); Miss DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (Jeannette Altagracia Dotel Montes de Oca, 21, of San Juan de la Maguana); Miss FRANCE (Michèle Boulé, 19, of Nice); Miss GERMANY (Jutta Danske, 25, from Berlin); Miss GREECE (Efi Fontini Ploumbi, 21, from Athens); Miss GUYANA (Umblita Claire Van Sluytman, 20, of Charity); Miss INDIA (Reita Faria, 23, of Bombay-today Mumbai); Miss ITALY (Gigliola Carbonara, 23, from Naples); Miss NORWAY (Birgit Andersen, 20, from Oslo); Miss SOUTH AFRICA (Johanna Maud Carter, 22, of Durban); Miss UNITED KINGDOM (Jennifer Lowe, 20, of Foggs Farm, Whitley); Miss UNITED STATES (Denice Estelle Blair, 19, of Layton, Utah); and Miss YUGOSLAVIA (19-year-old Nikica Marinovic, from Mokosica, Dubrovnik).

               After the presentation of the 15 semifinalists and while they went to dressing rooms to put on their swimsuits again, the group “The Three Monarchs” (Les Henry, Eric Yorke y Dave Conway) with their harmonics, made the musical intermission to the delight of the Lyceum and TV audience. Then the 15 semifinalists in their swimsuits were introduced again in alphabetical order. At the end of the individual parade, they all returned to the stage so that the judges could compare them and select the 7 that would go to the next round. Then, Michael Aspel announced the 7 finalists and interviewed them briefly. They were Miss BRAZIL, Miss GREECE, Miss INDIA, Miss ITALY, Miss NORWAY, Miss UNITED STATES and Miss YUGOSLAVIA. The question they asked Miss India was why she wanted to be a doctor. When she replied that India needed more obstetricians and gynecologists, Michael Aspel told her that India had many babies. The beauty said that was something that her country needed to discourage. Her response received a lot of applause. Subsequently, the seven finalists received a serenade from singer Mark Wynter.

                Due to the absence of the outgoing queen, the British Lesley Langley, Morley had requested Prince Rainier of Monaco and his wife Grace to crown the new Miss World with their honest presence, but they declined. Princess Muna, wife of King Hussein of Jordan also declined. Nor could Bob Hope attend. Then Morley appointed the ballerina Svetlana Berisova, who was part of the judges, to place the crown on the new queen of world beauty.

                The judges then issued their final verdict while the seven finalists waited anxiously behind the scenes. Alan B. Fairley of Mecca took the stage to deliver the awards and Eric Morley to announce the final results in reverse order.

                Fifth, with a prize of £ 100, ranked Miss ITALY, Gigliola Carbonara; in the fourth position Miss BRAZIL, Marlucci Manvailler Rocha, with 150 pounds sterling prize. In third place and winner of £ 250, Miss GREECE, Efi Fontini Ploumbi. In second place and runner-up of the contest, Miss YUGOSLAVIA, Nikica Marinovic, who believed she had won and was about to go to sit on the royal throne. Marinovic won 500 pounds sterling prize. As in previous years, all the finalists received a globe shaped trophy and for the first time, the four finalists received small crowns that were placed by Fairley.


                Behind the scenes were Miss India, Miss Norway and Miss United States, who were nervously awaiting the final announcement. Then Morley said: “And the new MISS WORLD 1966 is … Miss INDIA!” Reita Faria was put on her sash, went on stage and sat on the royal throne while the dancer Svetlana Berisova crowned her as the brand new Miss World 1966. Fairley handed the silver cup and a gentleman with a top hat, who was a production assistant, delivered the royal scepter and placed the ermine cloak on her shoulders to the first world queen not only from India but also from the Asian continent, who set out to take her triumphal walk to the beat of the famous crowning march of the event.

                Reita Faria, the 23-year-old medical student and future gynecologist from Bombay (Mumbai) who disapproved the use of miniskirt, with body measurements of 35-24-35, 5 feet 8 inches in height, 132 pounds in weight, black eyes and dark brown hair, won a check for 2500 pounds sterling, a test to make a film career and the possibility of winning 30 thousand pounds more for personal appearances during her year of reign. However, the brand new queen declined those offers since what she really wanted was to finish her university career. The new world beauty queen had to take her final exams in April to become the first Miss World to qualify as a doctor during her reign. When interviewed, Faria said of her new title that “I really don’t want it.” She was also doubtful about what she would do with her cash prize. “I can’t think of anything to buy with it,” Reita said. “I always wanted a Mercedes, but I can’t take that kind of car to India.” “My country needs a lot of money and it would be unfair of me. I want to go back immediately to finish my studies and become a doctor. I entered the contest for fun. I never expected to win”. The majestic air of the new Miss World caused the British audience to seal their approval. The decision was one of the most popular registered for a contest that often produces a lot of jealousy and accusations. Reita admitted, however, that she thought Miss Yugoslavia was going to win, an equally tall but blond girl. It was one of the most beautiful and peaceful Miss World contests in history. No one pulled anyone’s hair. The only tears shed were those of relief or friendly emotion. When the winner received her check, she swallowed thick, because she could not believe that if she was the poorest candidate, she was now the richest! Seven of the 10 judges voted for her to win !!

                In betting, Miss India was not a favorite. She was valued at 66-1. “I heard there was one Indian man who bet on me, out of pure patriotism, I’m sure, and I hope he made a small fortune,” said Faria, remembering the night that changed her life forever.

               At the Coronation Ball held at the Café de Paris, the prizes were awarded to sixth and seventh place, which went to Miss USA and Miss NORWAY, who obtained 50 and 25 pounds respectively in addition to their trophies. Morley confessed that he was relieved because he did not want Miss United Kingdom to win again! The next morning, the new Miss World received, as was customary, the media in her room at the Waldorf Hotel while she had breakfast and read the press. Later she visited the Mayor of London, Sir Robert Bellinger and his wife at the Mansion House.

                The 1966 contest was the most watched in the history of Miss World so far. The rating reached 24 million viewers in the United Kingdom, becoming the most watched TV show on British television that year. In addition, several million more watched the broadcast of the contest in other countries of the world.


                Miss Venezuela, Jenette Kopp, reported that her expensive mink coat was stolen, which was a gift from her father. “I will not leave London until they get my coat back or give me the value of what it cost,” she said angrily. Jenette, 19, of Caracas, said her coat disappeared from Lyceum during rehearsals Tuesday night. She said that Mecca had promised to recover the coat, whose value was estimated at £ 2000 or the value of it. “I hope they keep their promise. They have been very good to us during the contest.” “We thought that the people of England were honest, now I don’t think so. On Monday I will go to the Venezuelan Embassy to see if they can help,” said the shocked young woman. Jean Gibbons, Director of Mecca Promotions, said the Lyceum was checked from end to end after the disappearance of the coat but they had found nothing. “We don’t understand how the coat was taken out of the room if there was a strict security check.” At first, the Lyceum manager said they would buy a second-hand coat to replace the stolen coat, but then said they were not responsible for the loss. The police continued to investigate, but the outcome of this story was never known …


               After Reita’s victory, things went into a blur. Faria, who was already unimpressed with the showbiz aspect of the pageant, found the press following her every move, even taking pictures of her eating breakfast in bed. This was not the life she had imagined for herself. “One day I was a student and nobody took any notice of me. The next day I was Miss World and everyone wanted to know me. It just showed how artificial and temporary all this recognition was,” she said.

                The press changed her words when asked about her relationship with a wealthy tea planter in India named Osborne Lobo, 29, and had even set a wedding date! Reita confessed that her family had chosen that man for her and that maybe one day they would get married, but the main thing for her at that time was her studies. Reita stayed several days in London and was seen in several events very well accompanied by a young Indian man with whom the press related her to a possible romance. However, this bothered Reita because he was just her friend, businessman Gulu Lalvani. Another thing that horrified Reita was when an English gentleman at a party told her that she could earn a lot more money if she charged to sleep with them and that she could earn up to £ 200 a night. Reita, outraged, left the party immediately!

                But there was no way out — Faria would have to serve as the ambassador for the Miss World Foundation for a whole year — a detail she had missed. “There was no way I could go back to India and my studies. No one had told me this fine print,” remembered Faria, who was about to give up the title and return to study in India. Morley convinced her to continue talking about all the travel opportunities around the world at no cost to her and everything she would earn in monetary terms, so Reita accepted and soon began a worldwide tour, including one with the actor and comedian Bob Hope to South Vietnam during Christmas to cheer on American troops stationed there during the Vietnam War. When she received the invitation to join the USO tour with Bob Hope, the office of the High Commissioner of India in London warned her to think about the proposal very well before accepting it. She agreed to go and it was immediately reported that the Indian government did not want her to travel because it would appear that she was sympathizing with the United States on the subject of war, a conflict with which India disagreed. All this matter was reaching international incident levels, however the beauty queen traveled to the US on December 14 and from there to Bangkok where she arrived on the 16th, and then to Vietnam where she visited the US troops. “Many of them had lost their limbs and their injuries made my heart bleed,” says Faria. The visit would result in a political controversy; the Indian government was supporting the Communist government in north Vietnam and photos of Faria’s skit with Hope and signing caps of American soldiers was met with disapproval. “I had gone there just to meet the injured troops as had previous Miss Worlds, and had no idea there would be so much opposition to it back home. The issue was discussed in Parliament and there were even threats that my passport would be impounded,” she says. Her plan to return to India for a short visit in December was also scotched. “The organisers refused to let me go back; they were afraid I wouldn’t be allowed to return to London”, remembered Faria.


                On July 30, 1967, eight months after being elected, Reita Faria wanted to give up the title. She said she felt very lonely, that she hadn’t earned the amount promised by Morley and that she wanted to end the contract she had with Mecca. She said she had to pay Mecca 25% of each of her presentations and that in eight months she had only obtained about 8,000 pounds as a gain. She also said that she was not satisfied with Mecca’s arrangements regarding a presentation in the city of Newquay the previous week and with other presentations made at the last minute. Among the claims was that once they left her alone, she was asked to buy a train ticket and take the train herself, a treatment that according to Reita, did not deserve a Miss World. Morley told the media that if Reita was not satisfied with how Mecca handled her agenda and if she wanted to terminate the contract, he would have no objection, but that from that moment she would cease to be Miss World. “I’m still Miss World, they can’t take my title,” Faria protested. Morley clarified that at no time had they said that she had been dismissed. Morley tried to calm her down and explained that if instead of traveling the world for a few pounds she had stayed in England, she would have obtained triple the profits. He also told her that they would give her facilities to continue with her university studies in London and that on several of her trips she would be accompanied by a chaperone, after which Reita agreed to continue with the reign until the end. So, Faria set her sights on King’s College to complete her degree. She had won 2,500 pounds as Miss World and also earned a portion of the money generated from her appearances — a sum that helped her pay for her tuition, stay and food at King’s. As fate would have it, her future husband David Powell was working there and it was only a matter of time before they met and started to see each other. “Those were crazy days. I would be a regular student in the day and at night, a Rolls Royce would drive up to the college”. Reita would wear those gowns and transform into this Cinderella for the Miss World-related events. 


                Reita Faria was born on August 23, 1943 in Matunga and her parents were from Goa. Her father worked in a mineral water factory and her mother Antoinette owned a beauty salon. She was educated in a convent. She won the Miss Bombay contest first, then the “Eve’s Weekly Miss India” in September and finally the Miss World 1966 title on November 17 in London. She admitted that she entered the contest purely on a lark. “It was supposed to be just a joke, an experience. All I had to do was send a picture to the organizers, and my older sister, Philomena, took me to a studio to get one,” she recalled. Reita was a fifth-year medical student at the “Grant Medical College & Sir J. J. Group of Hospitals”. Shortly after winning the Miss World title, she traveled the world a lot, was with Bob Hope in Vietnam and among the Latin American countries she visited were Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Ecuador, where she certainly refused to parade in a bathing suit. After returning from Vietnam, she met in February in Hollywood a lawyer named David Gorton, 31, who fell in love at first sight and with whom she planned to marry soon. However, to Morley’s relief, the relationship did not prosper and Reita decided to remain single during her year of reign and thus fulfill her commitments as Miss World. After completing her year of reign and hoping everyone would forget that she was Miss World, she went to study at King’s College Hospital in London where she met her mentor and future husband, David Powell. She designed part of her wardrobe and announced that she would enter the world of fashion design with the Faria-Carnaby Street Fashions brand. In 1967 Reita attended Miss World and crowned her successor, she was a judge of the contest in the 1968 and 1976 editions and was present as a guest in the celebrations of the 25 years of the event in 1975 and in their 50 years celebrated in 2000.

                 Faria finally returned to India in 1969, only to leave again; this time, to Boston, where she and Powell would work as doctors after their marriage that took place on Tuesday, January 5, 1971. The couple moved to Dublin for good after their two daughters, Deirdre and Ann Marie, were born. When the girls were four and five years of age, Faria decided to give up her practice. “Since the girls were just a year apart, those were mad days. David’s work was all too consuming for him, so I thought I would be home till the children needed me — and that’s still going on,” she says. Powell continues to practice as an endocrinologist and Faria has her hands full with her five grandchildren (Patrick, Cormac , David, Maria and Johnny), golf, occasional skiing and cooking. “I make everything at home, even bread,” she says.

                “The glamour world could have never given me this grounded security. I wish the girls today would realise the fleeting nature of fame and looks. Running after these flashes of publicity, trying to hold onto what changes so rapidly and always looking out for variety, be it in ambitions or relations, is bound to cause distress. It’s unusual for a celebrity to make for a happy family these days, but this is where real happiness lies — in secure relationships,” she says. Which is what brings her back to India every few years: to meet family and friends in Mumbai. In 2016, she attended the 50th anniversary meet of her batch at Grant Medical College. That year, to commemorate the 50th year of her title, her daughters, both doctors, put together a small celebration with the family in Dublin on November 17. “When David and I look back at our life — 53 years together, including four before marriage — we realise we have each other, good health, children and grandchildren, and still so many shared interests from golf to skiing. What more does one want? I have my whole world,” says Faria.

                Faria also said that the most important thing about becoming Miss World was that it put her on the road to meet Powell. “That was what changed my life, not so much the contest.” She is still living in Dublin, Ireland, happily married to her lifelong husband.


                * Miss France.- After returning from London, Michèle was dismissed for unknown reasons and replaced by the first runner-up Monique Boucher, who became Miss France. Michèle had only one month left to complete her one-year reign.

                * Miss Spain.- After refusing to go to Miss World on the subject of Gibraltar, Paquita went to Miss Europe 1967 in Nice, France, from where she returned crowned. She also participated in Miss Universe 1966 where she was semifinalist. She married former American basketball player Clifford Luyk and had three children.

                * Miss Guyana.- She continued to work as a secretary upon returning from Miss World. She later married William James Butters with whom she had a son: Damon Butters. Umblita died in Las Vegas, an American city where she lived since 1969, on July 25, 2004 at the age of 57, a victim of a painful illness.

                * Miss United Kingdom.- Jennifer Lowe participated in the “Miss Britain 1968” contest where she was in second place. Weeks later she appeared in the “Miss England 1968” pageant where to confuse the judges and not to be considered a “repeated deck” she changed her surname to an invented one: Summers. As Jennifer Summers, she won this contest and went to Miami Beach to the Miss Universe finals where she qualified among the 15 semifinalists. She also participated that same year without success in Miss Europe.

                * Miss United States.- Denice Blair married twice, she was Mrs. McKnight and Mrs. Kane. Many years later she participated with her daughter Katie McKnight in the state final of the Mother and Daughter California contest in the late 80’s where unfortunately she did not place.

Mrs. Kopp-Paul in 2020

                * Miss Venezuela.- Sister of Miss Venezuela 1968, Jenette Kopp also married twice. The first time with Mario Bertuol, with whom she had two children, Jenny and Michael. Later she married Bryan Paul in 2009, with whom she currently lives in California, United States.

                * Miss Yugoslavia.- After being the first runner-up in Miss World and the best position reached by her country in the history of this event, Nikica was also invited to join the USO tour of Bob Hope but she declined because her country did not support that war conflict. She was also invited to Hollywood by producer Dino de Laurentiis but she didn’t want to know anything about acting. She became a recognized model in her country. She ended her relationship with Vlad Raspudic after meeting in Belgrade the man who would be her first husband, producer Vuk Vuca. With him she had her son Djordje but the marriage only lasted three or four years. In 1972 she remarried with Serbian director Zdravko Sotra with whom she had her other son, Marko. The union ended in divorce in 1980, she raised her children alone and set up a boutique, but after her children grew up and left home, she was completely alone. The former beauty queen fell into deep depression and decided to end her life with an overdose of barbiturates; She was found dead in her apartment in Belgrade on November 11, 2008 …

Nikica years later


Thanks to Donald West, Daryl Schabinger, Stefan Hoven Lieuw Choy, Orlando Ospina and Norberto Colon Tapia


5 responses to “Miss World 1966”

  1. I’m the daughter from miss switzerland janine söllner (janine bolliger) and participant miss world 1966…
    We have photos….more in blck/white…do you have more in color or any films? Statements?
    Were crateful…
    Kind regards from switzerland

    Alessandra bolliger


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