Design a site like this with
Get started

Miss World 1968

By Julio Rodríguez Matute


                1968, International Year of Human Rights, was and remains one of the most tumultuous years, marked by historical achievements, shocking murders, a detested war and a spirit of rebellion that spread throughout several countries of the world; It was also significant for pop culture and science. The historical events of 1968, especially the Vietnam War and the first images of the moon, also took place on television screens, taking them home in a way that had never been possible before. On January 21, the battle of Khe Sanh in the Vietnam War erupts, a controversial battle for the US that lasts 3 months and causes thousands of US casualties. That same month, Vietcong forces attacked the US Embassy in Saigon. Also in January, the liberal opening and reforms in Czechoslovakia, called “Prague Spring” started, but it was placated by the Soviet Union in August after invading the country and forcing it to follow the communist yoke. The Madison Square Garden opens in February in New York. In March the massacre of civilians “My Lai” occurs in Vietnam and in London, a demonstration against the US role in the Vietnam War ends in violence. In April, the black leader Martin Luther King was killed when he was preparing to lead a march in the city of Memphis, which caused riots in major American cities for many days. In the fifth month of 1968 the “French May” occurs with strikes and mass demonstrations. In June, the US presidential candidate, Robert F. Kennedy, is murdered in Los Angeles; student riots occur in Yugoslavia and also the “March of the Hundred Thousand” in Rio de Janeiro against the Brazilian military government; In July, in Costa Rica, the eruption of the Arenal volcano buries two villages. In October, the “Tlatelolco Massacre” occurs, the Summer Olympic Games are held in Mexico; and Jacqueline Kennedy marries Aristotle Onassis on a Greek island. In November, the great earthquake in New Madrid occurred in the center of the United States, which was felt in 23 states of the union and Republican Richard Nixon is elected President. In December, Rafael Caldera is elected as President in Venezuela, a Panam flight where the former Miss Venezuela 1962, Olga Antonetti, was traveling, crashes into the sea near Maiquetía (Caracas) and also in that month, the Apollo 8 crewed spacecraft enters the moon orbit. This year Nauru, Mauritius, Swaziland and Equatorial Guinea achieved independence while the sultanate of the Maldives became a Republic. In the world of art and entertainment, at the Royal Albert Hall in London, the Spanish singer Massiel wins the Eurovision Festival with the theme “La, la, la”; Brazil’s Martha Vasconcellos was elected Miss Universe in Miami Beach with a record of 65 participants and the Miss International contest was not held in Long Beach but in Tokyo, Japan, winning the also Brazilian Maria Da Gloria Carvalho. In 1968 the films “Planet of the Apes”, “2001, an odyssey in space”, “Rosmary’s baby” and “Oliver” that turned out to be Best Film at the Oscars in 1969 were released. On American TV the series “Hawaii-5-Zero” and “Wacky Races” of Hanna Barbera began. The Beatles premiere the song “Hey Jude” that Paul McCartney wrote for the son of John Lennon and that was part of the “White Album”, a disc with which the Liverpool quartet would begin its disintegration. That year, the African-American actor Will Smith, the Australian Hugh Jackman, the Mexican singers Alejandra Guzman and Gloria Trevi, the Canadian Celine Dion, the Venezuelan Karina and the Puerto Ricans Chayanne and Marc Anthony were born. Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin passed away in 1968.

Riots in London


                The Miss World pageant would have some changes in 1968. It would be the last year to be held at the Lyceum and the last to be broadcast in black and white on television, since color TV technology was already becoming widespread in Britain . Morley cleared his list of national directors and decided, for once, to accept married women, officially allowing the participation of “Miss International Bahamas”. This event was held for the first time to send a representative from this Caribbean country to Miss World. The winner, Rose Helena Simms Dauchot, 25, was elected in August but had married in April with Belgian citizen Yvon Dauchot and had a little son called Robert.

               In some countries there were also changes. The National Beauty Contest in Colombia resumed the rights of Miss World and from that year it would begin to officially send the National “Virreina” (First Runner-up) to the English contest, the same happened in Thailand. In Nicaragua, due to the move of the Miss International event to Japan, the organizers decided that the winner, instead of going to that contest as in previous years, would go to Miss Universe and Miss World. In India, Weekly’s Eve magazine lost the rights and the nascent “Bharat Sundari” contest took them and they would retain the franchise for that country until 1975. The winner was a flight attendant working for Air India in Moscow, Jane Coelho, 24, from New Delhi. In the Philippines, contest rights also changed hands. This time it was taken by the company “Beauty World LTD” who on October 6 elected “Miss Philippines 1968”, Pinky Amabuyok, among 37 candidates. The Manila Times described the winner, 5 feet 7 inches tall, as not necessarily glossy and appeared to be flat-chested in an ill-fitting red bathing suit. “But she was the prettiest of all the contestants and someone had to win the title so the country could be represented in the coming Miss World contest in London.” … In France, although it was announced that the winner of the contest “Mademoiselle France”, Miss Maryvonne Lachaze of Laval, Brittany, elected on July 7 in Paris, would go to Miss World, the French country was again represented by the first runner-up of Miss Cinemonde. In Ecuador, the candidate from that country was selected through a casting and in Italy they sent one of the semifinalists of “Miss Italy 1968”, Miss Sicily, Maria Pia Giamporcaro at last minute.

               On the other side, the reigning Miss World, the Peruvian Madeleine Hartog Bel, made a month and a half tour of Australia at the end of her reign. She was accompanied by her finalists, Miss Argentina and Miss Guyana. The tour began on September 24 with the arrival of the beauties to the city of Sydney and would later travel to seven other cities until the official visit to that country ended in mid-November, so her attendance to crown her successor was in doubt . During an interview upon arrival in Canberra, she confessed that “she was tired of being Miss World” and also, exhausted of being interviewed and photographed. “I like to be interviewed but in my own language, I don’t speak English very well and today I’m also a bit cold,” she said.


Miss Israel

                Sixty-nine countries and territories had “sponsors” who had the rights of Miss World that year. Two of them would not be represented in 1968. The Miss Portugal pageant was being held every two years since 1965, so in 1968 there was no election, while in Gambia, the contest, which was sponsored by the National Sports Federation , was postponed for the month of December. Others like Algeria, El Salvador, Guatemala and Hong Kong lost their rights after failing the previous year; Aruba and Surinam gave up continuing to send candidates for an economic issue and in Jordan the national contest was finally canceled after the annexation of the eastern part of Jerusalem by Israel in the Six Day War of 1967. In Tanzania, preliminary competitions had been held in different regions of the country, among them the first Miss Zanzibar (Hediye Khamis Mussa) had been crowned and everything was ready for the finals in the month of October, when the government decided to ban beauty contests because according to them, this type of event was not consistent with the Tanzanian culture. Then, Miss Tanzania had to be canceled and did not happen again until 1994. Due to this, the local organizers decided at the last minute to send to London the girl who placed second in 1967, the beautiful Zena Suleiman, sponsored by the Kilimanjaro Hotel, but this did not happen due to the rush. In the rest of the countries, national beauty events were held, including the following:

Lucienne Krier

                * Miss Luxembourg.- The blonde Lucienne Micheline Krier, 5 feet 9 inches tall, was crowned “Miss Luxembourg 1968”, winning the right to represent the Grand Duchy in Miss Universe, Miss Europe and Miss World. She participated in the first two competitions and even officially appeared registered in the 1968 Miss World program book, however she did not travel to London for unknown reasons, presumably due to illness. She was replaced by her runner-up, Irene Siedler.

                * Miss Czechoslovakia.- Jarmila Teplanova, a 21-year-old student of the Faculty of Metallurgy of the Technical University of Kosica, won the national contest “Girl 1968” on Friday, June 21, in full liberal opening thanks to the famous “Prague Spring”. However, after the Soviet invasion in August, things got complicated and on Wednesday, October 23 the Czech agency CTK officially announced that Miss Czechoslovakia would not take part in the Miss World contest since Teplanova could not be fitted and prepared in time for London.

                * Miss Venezuela.- On June 25, the finals of Miss Venezuela 1968 were celebrated, an event broadcast by RCTV, which by the way and for the first time, shown on TV the parade in swimsuits of the 16 contestants (before it was held privately with the judges only). In this event, the well-known song “En una noche tan linda como esta” (In a beautiful night like tonight) was sung for the first time, which would be the official anthem of the contest for many years, taken from the original song “In a Wonderful Day like Today” of the Broadway play “The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd”. The contest was broadcast from the now missing Teatro Altamira, housed in a building that had been evicted because it had been left with deep structural damage due to the 1967 Caracas earthquake. That edition was very followed by the press and was also very close between two large favorites, Peggy Kopp and Cherry Núñez. In the end, the judges decided that the brunette, sister of the Venezuelan representative in Miss World 1966, would go to Miss Universe and the blonde, to Miss World.

                * Miss Congo.- The Democratic Republic of the Congo held a beauty contest for the first time in 1968, winning Elisabeth Tavares, who first attended the Miss Universe contest in Miami Beach. Due to the riots and demonstrations that took place in France, the Miss Europe contest had to be suspended in the city of Nice and ended up being held in September in Kinshasa, thanks to the sponsorship of the Ministry of Culture, and counting as a special guest the brand new Miss Congo. With her the country would debut in Miss World shortly after, but at the last moment, for reasons not quite clear, that did not happen. It was said that the Ministry had spent all the money in organizing the Miss Europe pageant and had run out of funds to send the Congolese beauty to London.

                * Miss United Kingdom.- Thirty-nine candidates took part in the election of “Miss United Kingdom 1968” held at the Blackpool Open Stadium on Friday, August 9. The winner was Miss Wigan, Kathleen Winstanley, who surpassed the queens of Wales and Scotland who had previously attended Miss Universe. Miss England did not participate because she had already been Miss United Kingdom in 1966. The finalists were Marie Smith of Glasgow and Lisa Robertson of Bradford, the latter married. In the event there was a scandal as singer Dorothy Squires had arrived in Blackpool to be a judge of the contest, suggested to Morley by her agent, but Morley responded with a cable that already had Janet Munro confirmed as the lady of the judges. Apparently the message did not reach Squires and she attended the contest, finding that she was not on the list. Morley tried to solve and offered to be an additional judge but Squires, humiliated, refused and left the stadium enraged, threatening to take legal actions.

                * Miss World-USA.- Another scandal occurred on Saturday, August 17 in San Diego, California in the election of the new “Miss World-USA” when Miss Washington, Johnine Leigh Avery 22 years and 5 feet 6 inches tall was proclaimed as the new titleholder, being crowned by Bob Hope. Avery was actually from North Hollywood, California and worked as a television screenwriter in Los Angeles; In addition, it was rumored that she was a close friend of the main sponsor of the contest and also a judge, Bob Hope, who met her when she worked as a secretary in the Navy. When the final results were announced, a group of candidates unexpectedly left the stage. The rebellion was led by Miss Kansas, Jade Hagen, who along with four other Misses shouted fraud and threatened to leave the case in the hands of her lawyer. Hagen explained that she and the rest of the participants already knew who the finalists were by mid-week, before the preliminaries. The contest also had other stumbling blocks. It could not be broadcast on television because of the dispute brought by the Miss Universe organization for the use of the name “Miss USA” in the title and because two candidates arrived to represent the same state. The contest had 44 candidates. The finalists were Miss Virginia, Deborah Shelton (who in 1970 would be the first runner-up of Miss Universe); Miss Hawaii, Leslie McCrea; Miss California, Diane Dye, and Miss Texas, Judy Bowman. After the scandal, the San Diego municipal representatives decided to withdraw the offer to celebrate the 1969 event again in that city.

                * Quest of Quests.- On Sunday, September 29, the 2nd edition of this event was held at the Southern Cross hotel in the city of Melbourne, with the participation of 17 candidates. The winner was Penelope Plummer and Madeleine Hartog Bel, Miss World, was the chairwoman. She acted in the tiebreaker that favored Penelope as “Miss World Australia 1968”. Also present were the two finalists of Madeleine, Miss Argentina and Miss Guyana. After her election as “Miss World Australia”, Penelope accompanied Madeleine through several Australian cities before leaving for London.

                * Miss Gibraltar.- The triumph of Sandra Sanguinetti, 18, was objected because she was accused of being Italian. The contest was held on Monday, September 30 and the finalists were Moira Canepa and Angelita Bassadone, the latter the favorite for being the sister of the outgoing queen.

                * Miss World Chile.- At noon on October 26, the “Miss Mundo Chile 1968” contest was held in the Reception Hall of Radio Cooperativa in Santiago, with just 6 candidates. The event was sponsored by the Catalina swimsuit firm. The winner, Carmen Smith, had previously been elected Queen “Mechona” of Social Service and also Queen of the University of Chile.

                * Miss Peru World.- After the celebrated triumph of Madeleine Hartog Bel as Miss World, there was encouragement to organize for the second time the contest “Miss Peru World” on Tuesday, October 29 at the Municipal Theater of Lima, with the participation of 9 candidates. The winner was Ana Rosa Berninzon Devéscovi, an 18-year-old language and secretariat student and measurements 36-24-37. Madeleine was not present at the event because at that time she was touring Australia.

                * Miss Lebanon.- The Phoenician hotel in the Lebanese capital hosted the “Miss Lebanon 1968” contest on Saturday, November 2, an event that had 12 candidates. The winner, Leila “Lili” Bissar, 5 feet 4 inches tall and from the city of Tripoli, said she was 17, so the organizers sent her without doubts to London a few days later to compete for the Miss World crown.

Miss Seychelles

                * Miss Seychelles.- The first edition of the Miss Seychelles contest was scheduled to be held on Saturday, November 2 and the country was confirmed as a participant in the Miss World program book, but for fortuitous reasons, the contest had to be postponed three weeks, so the country did not have a representative in London. The election was finally held on Saturday, November 23 at the Beau Vallon Beach hotel, 9 days after Miss World, and the winner was Marie France Lablache, 17, of Hermitage. The finalists were Elsie Savy and Philomena Gendron. There were 14 contestants.


                By October 25, the date on which the contest program book was sent to the press, 66 pre-confirmed countries would participate in the event. The eighteenth edition of Miss World would be held in the British capital from November 7 to 15 at the Lyceum Theater. A week before, Friday November 1st., the first candidate, Miss Jamaica, arrived. On Monday 4, at the port of Southampton aboard the S.A. Vaal cruise, the representative of South Africa arrived. On Tuesday 5 it was the turn of Miss Bahamas and on Wednesday 6 several more contestants arrived, including Miss Kenya and Miss Chile. Others were in transit in other European cities, such as Miss USA, who traveled to London via Rome. On Thursday, November 7, the official arrival day, a good number of participants arrived totaling 47. The press highlighted that day that Spain had finally finished a three-year boycott of the Miss World contest when María Amparo Rodrigo Lorenzo, 19 , traveled to London on Thursday 7 to compete. She had been elected Miss Spain on July 17. Previously, the Madrid authorities had banned Spanish participation because they had opposed the presence of a Miss Gibraltar. On Friday 8, in the morning, Miss Ghana arrived and Eric Morley removed from the list 6 more countries that had not sent the flight data of their representatives (Tanzania, Seychelles, Bolivia, Panama, Syria and Trinidad-Tobago , these last four even without registering their names). Of the total participants, six came from competing in Miss Universe (Austria, Belgium, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Switzerland and Canada, the latter had been a semifinalist in Miami Beach). Miss Germany, Miss Norway and Miss France came from Miss International in Japan, the latter also a semi-finalist in that event. While Miss Austria had managed to be the first runner-up of Miss Europe 1968, event in which Miss Switzerland and Miss Belgium had also participated.




                The first official activity of the contest was the visit to Trafalgar Square in the morning of Friday, November 8. There, the candidates posed for the media and, as always, played with the pigeons. Subsequently, in the afternoon, the usual Press Presentation was held at the premises of the competition’s hotel, the Waldorf, where the 48 contestants who had arrived so far, posed for photographers in their swimsuits. The swimsuit of Miss Switzerland was banned for the finals, because it was completely discovered in the back. The 48 candidates who posed for the media that day were:

                Miss ARGENTINA (Viviana Roldán), Miss AUSTRALIA (Penelope Vaughn Plummer), Miss AUSTRIA (Brigitte Krüger), Miss BAHAMAS (Rose Helena Simms Dauchot), Miss BELGIUM (Sonja Doumen), Miss CANADA (Nancy Wilson), Miss CHILE (Carmen Smith ), Miss COLOMBIA (Beatriz Eutiquia Sierra González), Miss COSTA RICA (Ida Patricia Diers Heitman), Miss CYPRUS (Diana Dimitropoulou), Miss DENMARK (Yet Schaufuss), Miss ECUADOR (Marcia Virginia Ramos Christiansen), Miss FINLAND (Leena Sipilä) , Miss FRANCE (Nelly Gallerne), Miss GERMANY (Margot Schmalzriedt), Miss GHANA (Lovell Rosebud Wordie), Miss GIBRALTAR (Sandra Sanguinetti), Miss GREECE (Lia Malta), Miss GUYANA (Adrienne Harris), Miss HOLLAND (Alida Grootenboer) , Miss INDIA (Jane Coelho), Miss IRELAND (June McMahon), Miss ISRAEL (Miri Zamir), Miss JAMAICA (Karlene Waddell), Miss JAPAN (Ryoko Miyoshi), Miss KENYA (Josephine Moraa Moikobu), Miss LIBERIA (Wilhelmina Nadieh Brownell ), Miss MALTA (Ursulina “Lina” Grech), Miss MEXICO (Ana María Magaña), Miss MOROCCO (Zakia Chamouch), Miss NEW ZEALAND (Christine Mary Antunovic), Miss NICARAGUA (Margine Davidson Morales), Miss NIGERIA (Foluke Ogundpipe), Miss NORWAY (Hedda Lie), Miss PERU (Ana Rosa Berninzon Devéscovi), Miss PHILIPPINES (Arene Cecilia “Pinky” Annas Amabuyok), Miss SOUTH AFRICA (Mitsianna Stander), Miss SPAIN (María Amparo Rodrigo Lorenzo), Miss SWEDEN (Gunilla Friden), Miss SWITZERLAND (Jeanette Biffiger), Miss THAILAND (Pinnarut Tananchai), Miss TUNISIA (Zohra Boufaden), Miss TURKEY (Mine Kurkcuoglu), Miss UGANDA (Joy Lehai Kanyarutokye), Miss UNITED KINGDOM (Kathleen Winstanley), Miss UNITED STATES (Johnine Leigh Avery), Miss VENEZUELA (María Dolores “Cherry” Núñez Rodríguez) and Miss YUGOSLAVIA (Ivona Puhlera).

                The tallest candidates were Miss Bahamas, Miss Colombia, Miss Nicaragua and Miss Yugoslavia with 5 feet 9 inches and the shortest, Miss Malta, with 5 feet 3 inches. The favorite of the press that afternoon was Miss South Africa! In the evening, the young women attended the official welcome dinner, sponsored by Air France and held at the Commonwealth Institute in Kensington. Informal bets on this year’s winner began that Friday night at the party with a lot of champagne. The strongest applause went to Miss Venezuela, 18; Miss Israel, also 18 years old; Miss Cyprus, 19 and Miss Colombia, 20. That night two more girls arrived: Miss BRAZIL (Angela Carmelia Stecca) and Miss KOREA (Young-chae Lee).


                A 17-year-old Philippine girl said that she is determined to become a nun even if she wins the Miss World contest in London next Thursday – Miss Cecilia “Pinky’ Amabuyok — Philippines entry for the competition — said: “I am a devout Catholic and go to mass everyday, I did not manage to go today and that has made me sad, I am not happy unless I go to church every day” Miss Philippines is one of 55 girls from all over the globe who have come to London in hopes of winning the 2,500 pounds (6,000 dollars) first prize, the 150 pounds (350 dollars) crown and the fortune in fees for personal appearances and modeling that can amount to 30,000 pounds (72,000 dollars) in the next 12 months. “I am superstitious” she told a reporter. “Other girls have lucky charms but I have a lucky mole. It is on my lip” — and she indicated a tiny mole on her upper lip. “I am hoping it will bring me luck in the contest. But pray each day and not just for success”. “If I win it will not make any difference to me to the real me. “I am just a member of a Philippines family and I love my family. If I win all that money, I will give it to my parents”. ” I have two brothers and four sisters so we can make good use of the money”. “I am a student at the University of the East in Manila and I will continue with my studies whatever happens. Her father is a teacher at the American School in Makati Rizal State – Miss Philippines is a demure young lady who does not like to talk of her measurements: 35-24-35, 5 feet 7 inches height, 155 pounds weight. She is fond of painting, swimming and classical music and voiced a tiny complaint: I wish the contest judges paid as much attention to the contestants inner persons, to their spiritual beauty and not just their physical beauty”, she said. Does she know anybody in London?, “Only the Beatles”, she replied “We met when they visited the Philippines but I do not expect they would know me any more. I like them all but my favorite is Paul McCartney”. Miss Philippines went shopping Saturday “I bought a dress and a bracelet and a mini-skirt but not too mini for my 14-year-old sister Raffy. I haven’t had a lot of time to shop but then I don’t have very much money with me”.


                Miss Spain threatened to leave the Miss World contest in London on Saturday night unless 80 of her friends and neighbors from Valencia could sit down to applaud her in that week’s contest. The ardent Maria Amparo, 19, left a meeting of contestants and said she would fly back to Spain “unless mom and all my friends can see me in this contest. They certainly did not come here to see me on television,” she said. María Amparo, who had been considered one of the leading contenders for the beauty title. However, the organizers of the contest, Mecca Promotions, told her that they could not give her more than 10 tickets for the finals on Thursday.


               On Saturday, November 9, a show with a float parade through the streets of London called “The Mayor’s Show” (Sir Charles Trinder) was held for the first time. Some of the participants took part in the parade, a group in an open float, and others in a car with a capacity for thirty passengers. As the city was paralyzed by the parade, the traditional city tour was postponed for the next day. In the afternoon, the young women received the reporters at the Waldorf hotel. The world’s prettiest girls crammed a London hotel room on Saturday in a welter of thighs, false eyelashes, elegantly held cigarettes… and “love”. It was as if theywere not only competing for the title of Miss World, but also for Miss Politeness. They murmured brightly to pressmen, almost as one, “We love being here”. Miss Uganda, 22 year-old Joy Lehai, asked how the African girls were getting on with Miss South Africa, replied, “She is so sweet”. The affection was so infectious that Miss Nicaragua, 20-year-old Margine Davidson, put her arm around Miss Philippines, 17-year-old Cecilia Amabuyok, and announced, “I hope she wins”. The happiness extended to the contest organisers, Mecca Promotions, who announced with relief that last year’s winner, 22-year old Peruvian Madeleine Hartog Bel, had decided not to boycott the contest after all.

                Another event that was suspended was the visit to Cambridge, partly because of the kidnapping attempt that some candidates had had in the previous two years. On Sunday, November 10, the contestants toured the main points of the British capital, including Buckingham Palace and Hampton Court Palace. Five other contestants arrived during the weekend: Miss CEYLON (Nilanthie Wijesinghe), Miss DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (Ingrid María García de Cano), Miss ITALY (Maria Pia Giamporcaro), Miss LEBANON (Leila “Lili” Bissar) and Miss LUXEMBOURG (Irene Siedler). Three other countries excused themselves during that weekend and did not send their representatives. They were MALAYSIA (Ramlah Alang), SINGAPORE (Jenny Wong Ser Wan) and the DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO (Elisabeth Tavares), reducing the list of participants to 57 girls. Venezuelan Elsy Manzano Oquendo, Queen of the Cuatricentennial of Caracas (1967), was mistaken for a participant upon arriving at the London airport on Sunday 10, invited to an event offered by the Venezuelan Embassy in the British capital. Coincidentally, the Venezuelan representative, Cherry Nuñez, had placed third in that contest.

                Miss USA, Johnine Avery, limped up the lobby steps. “I banged my knee on an ashtray on the bus going to Buckingham Palace this morning,” she said. “I’m nursing it with hot compresses and just praying it will unswell by Thursday,” she said. On Monday 11, the girls visited the House of Commons in the morning, being escorted by parliamentarians Sir Stephen McAdden, Frederick Harris and Dr. David Kerr. In the afternoon, they recorded small introductions for the BBC that would be used in the case of being semifinalists and, at night, they went to the Savoy hotel to the gala dinner of the Variety Club of Great Britain. In this event, as was traditional, the young women came dressed in their traditional costumes and brought the gifts that would be auctioned for the benefit of children’s charities. A Belfast booker published that day that the most optioned to the crown, according to the bets, were Miss Colombia, Miss Israel and Miss Sweden. On the other hand, it was learned that Miss Australia, Penny Plummer, had a cold.


Miss Australia

               Organizers of the Miss World Contest called in a police detective Monday night to escort Miss Colombia to a dinner at the Savoy Hotel after they learned she was wearing antique emeralds valued at 20,000 pounds (48,000 dollars). Beatriz Sierra Gonzalez, 20, recovered the gems only Monday morning. They had been reported missing for four days at a Paris Airport. “I could not understand it. They were addressed to the Ambassador here in London”, she said. The jewels set in white gold were the finishing touch to her national costume. She and 54 other competitors went to a dinner in national dress. Gifts from each contestant were handed to Actor Stanley Baker for charities patronized by the Variety Club of Great Britain which gave the dinner. One of the gifts was from Miss Turkey, Mine Kurkuoglu, 17. It was a 100-year-old plate showing five girls who had won a beauty contest of a different kind— their prize was the son of a Sultan, a Turkish official said. Miss India meanwhile proclaimed: “I do not want to become Miss World”. Jane Coelho, 24, said she had not had to compete in person in India to win the Miss India title but had been selected from photographs. The idea of parading in a swimsuit is not particular nice- but I suppose I’ll have to go through with it”, said Miss India. “All I know is that I would hate the thought of being Miss World and I do not want to win. I was very surprised to be picked as Miss India but as soon as it is over it is back to work for me”. Miss Coelho is an air hostess on the Bombay-Moscow-London route.


                On Tuesday, November 12, the day was dedicated exclusively to rehearsing at the Lyceum from 9 in the morning until 10 at night. Miss Italy woke up sick and did not attend the rehearsals and Mecca called on the betting house William Hill to stop betting on the candidates because they turned the competition into a cattle market. Miss Canada had been fairly well regarded by bookmakers who set odds on the Miss World beauty pageant. The blonde Miss Wilson, from Chatham, Ontario, was 11 to 1 as a second option along with Miss Austria and Miss Denmark in the bets of the day at Ladbroke. Ladbroke had Miss Argentina as a favorite with 10 to 1. Betting firm William Hill left Miss Canada in the fourth group with 16 to 1 along with representatives from Costa Rica, Argentina, Denmark, Finland, Italy and the Philippines. Hill’s joint favorites were Miss Israel and Miss Sweden with 10 to 1.

                Miss USA thought the odds are against her adding a Miss World title to her laurels but she plans to have the last laugh on her competitors and their sponsors anyway. Johnine Avery said no American girl had much chance to take the Miss World title because judges on this side of the Atlantic have different standards of beauty than American judges. She expected to collect enough material by the time the winner is chosen, to lampoon the whole thing in a comedy spoof. Johnine, who is 22 and lived in North Hollywood, Calif., is a television script writer. She measures 36-24-36. A chaperone said the judges generally were looking for a “cosmopolitan kind of beauty which Americans lack.” “The past Miss USAs have been very sweet but a little too hard and neat-looking. Europeans on the other hand are soft, their hair slightly disheveled, and a bit more sexy,” she said.

                Meanwhile, William Hill, one of Britain’s largest betting houses, rejected Mecca’s accusation that the company was turning the contest into a cattle market by betting on girls. The firm said the odds of that day made Miss Israel, the 18-year-old model Miri Zamir, a clear favorite with 10-1 alongside Miss Sweden. Then with 14-1 was Miss Australia and with 16-1 Philippines, Guyana, Italy, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States. At the end of the bets on Thursday, Miss United Kingdom had placed as the favorite of the Ladbrokes agency with 9-1 followed by Miss Argentina and Miss Israel, both with 10-1.

                Arab diplomats in London backed their fantasy in the Miss World contest. But their bets of £ 5O per head had nothing to do with patriotism. Everyone bet on Miss Israel! The bets were made completely secret …


                Europe’s hippie beauty queen who rolls her own cigarettes, has charged the organizers of the Miss World Contest were using “lock and key” to prevent her from blasting their “beauty racket” wide open. “I am in a prison,” said Alida Grootenboer, 20, Holland’s tow-headed rebel contestant at the 1968 Miss World Beauty Pageant. “My friends in London, who came to see me the day I arrived, have been forbidden to come back. I have been told what to say, how to act and am even locked in my room,” she added. “The only reason I am remaining in London in this contest is so I can expose the dishonestly and commercialization of womanhood it represents,” Alida said, tossing back her long-fly-away hair. A chaperone for the contest said Alida’s London friends had been “asked not to take her out” because they were “boisterous and objectionable.” “Mecca Promotions, contest sponsor, feels it is acting in the place of a contestant’s mother and these friends were not a mother’s dreams,” the chaperone said. “As for being locked in her room, she was merely suspended from one day of pre-contest activities because she snuck out without her chaperone,” she said. “We were actually being kind to her. We could have expelled her from the competition for breaking her contract which stipulates she cannot leave the hotel unchaperoned,” she said. Alida, whose figure measures 35-23-36, said she had been under pressure by Mecca to withhold the fact she had placed third instead of first in the Miss Holland beauty contest. The first two winners had been sent to other international competitions. “And now they won’t let me talk to reporters for fear I’ll expose their racket,” she added. A student who lives in Utrecht, Holland, Alida said she entered the contest to “blast it wide open.” “Beauty contests are typical of the Western money-making machine and serve as a source of cheap commercial amusement,” she said. “The contest for Miss Holland was completely rigged. I won because of my friendly behavior towards the organizer,” she said. Alida said if Mecca continues to restrict her liberty she “might not be able to stand it anymore” and would pack up and go home. Alida said she sympathizes with the Dutch provocationists who have hurled tear gas bombs at Queen Juliana and done similar things to “break apart the brittle structure of an outdated society.”

                “The Miss U.S.A. contestants have always been machine manufactured,- she said. To a point, this year’s Miss U.S.A. concurred. Johnine Avery, put it this way: “The thing I hate most it is having to smile every moment when you parade on the stage. It makes me feel like a hypocrite. A person smiles at a moment of pleasure, and its unnatural to march with your face distorted like that for an hour.”.


Miss Israel

                Miss Philippines had said that winning the title of Miss World would bring honor to the convent. But different versions of Pinky’s background emerged. In Makati, the Santa Rosa School, which said it was a high school run by Catholic missionaries and not a convent, claimed it had never heard of the black-haired Miss Philippines. If Pinky were a novice “she couldn’t have possibly left the convent much less joined a beauty contest,” the mother superior’s secretary said. The contest organizers, Mecca Promotions, replied they thought Pinky “had made a mistake.” “Pinky told us she used to go to the Santa Rosa School occasionally as a volunteer to ‘teach children to pray,’” a Mecca spokesman said. “She said the Santa Rosa High School probably denied ever hearing of her because they were not pleased to have the publicity of a beauty queen connected with their school,” the spokesman said. But as for Pinky being a full-fledged novice, Mecca said the just didn’t know. They would have to accept her claim as true until they found out otherwise. Although Mecca’s professed full faith in Pinky’s “honesty,” they fended off reporters. “We are distressed at the controversy that is surrounding her,” a spokesman said. “But we have decided not to question her until we contact her sponsors and investigate her background,” he added..


                Pinky Amabuyok admitted Wednesday that she was not a nun who ran away to become a beauty queen. The willowy 17-year-old Miss Philippines, said she had made up the story because she “was imagining how it might become” because she hopes one day to enter a convent. “I guess my imagination just ran away with me,” she whispered in apology. Her declaration that she was a novice nun in a Philippines convent had startled the beauty pageant. Things became even more confused when Miss Amabuyok’s father in Manila said he knew nothing about his daughter becoming a nun. “She’s just like any other girl,” he said. Pinky, whose real first name is Cecilia, said Wednesday that “I want very much to be a nun although I’m still trying things out to be sure it’s really what I want to do. That’s why I entered the beauty contest.” The tall black-haired girl said she thought she would try studying nutrition at college before deciding whether to enter a convent.


                On Wednesday, November 13, the contestants went in groups to the Alan’s Piccadilly beauty salon that was sponsoring the contest at the Strand Palace hotel. That same day, Miss Spain, María Amparo Rodrigo, decided to retire. The 19-year-old Spanish woman stormed out of the Miss World contest that day and went into seclusion behind a screen of 92 relatives. She left an ultimatum: Bar Miss Gibraltar from the contest or she would not appear in Thursday night’s final. Her walkout added to the last-minute woes of the organizers, Mecca Promotions, who already have suspended one teenage beauty queen and accused a big London bookmaker of treating the contest like a cattle market. According to contest sources, Miss Lorenzo left the hotel where the girls were staying and went into hiding at another London hotel with 92 relatives who came from Spain to watch her compete. According to the sources, her great aunts, uncles and cousins were trying to persuade her to return. Her move came as a shock to Mecca, who thought Spain had been prepared to overlook its dispute with Gibraltar this year after boycotting the contest for three years.     

                Miss Gibraltar, the 18-year-old clerk, Sandra Sanguinetti, was at rehearsals that night and told the media that “I am not a politician, I am not.” And no gentleman would have doubted her word for a moment, except that Miss Spain had just flown out of the enraged Miss World before an alleged comment that Miss Gibraltar made in a newspaper interview. The versions of what Sandra Sanguinetti (Miss Gibraltar) said were really at least as numerous as the Gospels. The version of her words were: “I’m glad that Miss Spain participates in the contest” – arose, due to some evil, bad translation or misunderstanding, with seven words added: “… because that shows that she recognizes Gibraltar”. Spain did not recognize Gibraltar. On Wednesday night there was a suspense of not knowing if Miss Gibraltar would give public apologies or Miss Spain would swallow pride and reappear in the general rehearsal. If she did not attend, she was automatically out of competition, as part of the contest program would be recorded that night.

                But the Valencian Miss Spain, who had gotten into a political dispute with Miss Gibraltar and before letting anyone think that Spain recognized Gibraltar as British territory, decided to officially withdraw from the contest. Miss Spain refused to attend rehearsals Wednesday night for Thursday’s final and was isolated in a hotel behind 92 relatives who came from Spain to watch her compete. Miss Spain said she would not participate in the contest unless Miss Gibraltar denied the alleged observations that Spain recognized Gibraltar as British territory. Meanwhile, Miss Gibraltar, Sandra Sanguinetti, said she had nothing to apologize for, and added that she thought Miss Spain was very rude, but she regretted that she had left the contest since the Miss World was “a friendly competition” .

                Eric Morley said they were very disappointed by the action Miss Spain took and that they hoped it would not affect future participation of Spain in the contest. Miss Spain returned to her country on the morning of Thursday accompanied by her mother Vicenta Lorenzo and said that for her Spain “was more important than the title of Miss World”. The Spanish girl told that everything happened on the night of Tuesday 12 when someone told her about some political statements that Miss Gibraltar had made when she left the Rock towards London. Very early in the morning of the next day, she asked her chaperone to look for the “Gibraltar Chronicle” where she read the statements of the Gibraltarian. Then she went to the organizers telling them that she was withdrawing because that was a political issue against her homeland and that she had gone there representing it. The organizers tried to persuade her to ignore such statements and that she was one of the favorites that could win the title, but the girl had already made her decision and at 8:30 in the morning she was leaving the Waldorf hotel and staying at the Munt Royal, but without her passport, since Morley refused to give it to her for being under 21. Her mother returned to the Waldorf to look for their passports but he did not want to give them to her either, so Maria Amparo, turned a fierce, returned to the offices of Morley in the Waldorf and, as she said, he threw the passports to her face …


                A lucky woman, probably shedding tears of joy, would be crowned at the Lyceum Ballroom in London on Thursday and raise 2,500 pounds ($ 6,000) plus the offer of a contract that Mecca guaranteed to get another 25,000 pounds ($ 60,000) in a year. That girl would not be Miss Lebanon, Lili Bissar, who was disqualified on Wednesday night when Mecca discovered she was only 15 years old, when the minimum age was 17. But the organizers decided that she would be allowed to parade with the others the night of the finals. The executive director of the contest, Jean Gibbons, said that “as Miss Lebanon had traveled all this way accompanied by her parents, we have decided to let her appear in the contest to gain experience.” Two candidates expected to arrive in London until the last minute: Miss HONDURAS (Lillian Carol Heyer) and Miss ICELAND (Helga Jonsdóttir), did not arrive on time so the final number of candidates was 54.


                The general rehearsal was held on Wednesday the 13th and the introductions with the national costumes that the BBC would broadcast during the finals of Thursday was pre-recorded along with Michael Aspel and the American singer Gene Pitney. That night, Madeleine Hartog Bel arrived in London from Australia to crown her successor. Also that day, the BBC broadcast a talk show with Michael Aspel and four ex-Miss World: Reita Faria of India, who won the Miss World title in 1966 and who at that time was working in a London hospital, where she was training to be a doctor; Carole Crawford, Miss Jamaica of 1963, a housewife in Kingston, Jamaica; Catharina Lodders, Miss World 1962 of Holland, who had married Chubby Checker, the King of the Twist; and Rosemarie Frankland, Miss United Kingdom of 1961, who became Miss World when she was 18 years old.


                Finally came Thursday, November 14, the day of the election of the new world sovereign of beauty. That day there was still one more rehearsal and hairdressing appointments before the girls lined up on the stage of the Lyceum Ballroom in London before a paid audience of 800 and a television audience estimated at 26.5 million people in Britain alone. “I would love to win the title for Jamaica,” Karlene Waddell, Miss Jamaica, told the BIS interviewer. “First of all, for what it would mean for my country and also because I feel it would justify the great honor that has been given to me when I have been chosen to represent Jamaica. But even if I don’t win, I will always be proud to have been chosen and I am delighted to have had the opportunity to visit Britain”. Miss Waddell had carried out a round of official commitments as a guest of the High Commissioner of Jamaica, Sir Laurence Cute and his lady.

                This year, Miss World was celebrating its 18th anniversary and had the debut of Thailand. The stage was upholstered in blue and the golden scenery included large capital letters with the word “MISS WORLD”. At 7:55 p.m., Phil Tate and his orchestra began the overture of the event that was followed by the National Anthem and the official fanfare that kicked off the show. Wally Green of Lyceum welcomed Eric Morley to the stage, who after the acknowledgments and the words of welcome, proceeded to present the panel of 9 judges. They were:

1- Peter Dimmock, General Manager of BBC Broadcasts and Chairman of the Judges.

2- Graham Hill, British Formula One world champion.

3- Lady Elizabeth Anson, from the high British society.

4- Richard Todd, British actor of Irish origin.

5- Reita Faria, Miss World 1966 from India.

6- Stanley Baker, Welsh actor and film producer.

7- The High Commissioner of Ghana in the UK, Sir Anthony Seth.

8- The British football player John Hore.

9- And the Hungarian orchestra conductor, Istvan Kertesz.

                Next, Eric Morley introduced the 54 candidates in their swimsuits, who eventually placed themselves in their positions on the stage and posed in groups in front of the judges so that they could evaluate them together. After a 15-minute intermission that was enlivened by the Phil Tate orchestra, the 54 young women appeared once again on stage, this time in their evening gowns. At 9:05 p.m. the BBC broadcast began for 55 uninterrupted minutes, with comments from Keith Fordyce and the pre-recording that had been done the night before with the individual introductions of the contestants in their national costumes. The broadcast continued live when the Master of Ceremonies, Michael Aspel, proceeded to call in alphabetical order the 15 semifinalists, who individually paraded in their evening gowns while the audience listened to the small audio that each of them had pre-recorded days before .

                The lucky 15 were: Miss ARGENTINA (Viviana Roldán, 25, of Esperanza, Santa Fé); Miss AUSTRALIA (Penelope Vaughn Plummer, 19, of Smithtown, New South Wales); Miss AUSTRIA (Brigitte Krüger, 24, from Vienna); Miss COLOMBIA (Beatriz Eutiquia Sierra González, 20, of Cartagena); Miss FRANCE (Nelly Gallerne, 22, of Antony); Miss GERMANY (Margot Schmalzriedt, 22, of Stuttgart); Miss GUYANA (Adrienne Harris, 20, of Georgetown); Miss IRELAND (June McMahon, 24, from Dublin); Miss ISRAEL (Miri Zamir, 18, of Haifa); Miss NICARAGUA (Margine Davidson Morales, 20, of Matagalpa); Miss PHILIPPINES (Arene Cecilia “Pinky” Annas Amabuyok, 17, from Makati); Miss SWEDEN (Gunilla Friden, 19, of Stockholm); Miss THAILAND (19-year-old Pinnarut Tananchai from Chiang Mai); Miss UNITED KINGDOM (Kathleen Winstanley, 22, of Wigan); and Miss YUGOSLAVIA (Ivona Puhlera, 17, from Dubrovnik).

                It was strange that three of the favorites, Miss USA, Miss South Africa and Miss Venezuela, did not qualify in the first 15. It was the first time since 1960 that the US did not classify and it was rumored that the theme of the Vietnam War had undermined the possibilities of the American girl; while about Miss Venezuela, it was said that her attitude as a diva towards the rest of her fellows had hurt her chances. The South African girl had been considered the favorite of the media. Singer Gene Pitney was in charge of the Cabaret with his song “Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart” while the semifinalists switched to their swimsuits. Michael Aspel again introduced the 15 semifinalists in their swimsuits, first individually and then in a group before calling the last 7 finalists. As he called each of the 7 selected girls, he interviewed them briefly. They were: Miss AUSTRALIA, Miss COLOMBIA, Miss GUYANA, Miss ISRAEL, Miss NICARAGUA, Miss PHILIPPINES and Miss UNITED KINGDOM. Singer Gene Pitney gave them a brief serenade and then sang a couple of other songs while the judges deliberated. Finally, when the results were ready, Michael Aspel called on stage the outgoing Miss World, Madeleine Hartog Bel, Alan B. Fairley of Mecca for the awards ceremony and Eric Morley to announce the results in reverse order. Meanwhile, the 7 young women remained behind the scenes waiting for the judges’ verdict.

                In the fifth position and with a prize of £ 100, Miss PHILIPPINES, Pinky Amabuyok; in fourth place, Miss COLOMBIA, Beatriz Sierra, with a check for £ 150. Then, in third place and with £ 250, one of the big favorites, Miss ISRAEL, Miri Zamir, a blonde model who was about to enter the Army of her country the following year. She was the most applauded by the audience at the Lyceum. As the runner-up and second place winner, Miss UNITED KINGDOM, Kathleen Winstanley, another favorite. All of them received silver trophies and small crowns from Alan B. Fairley. Behind still were Miss Australia, Miss Guyana and Miss Nicaragua, who nervously awaited the announcement of the new Miss World.


                Then, Eric Morley proclaimed as MISS WORLD 1968 to … Miss AUSTRALIA, Penelope Plummer! The astonished young woman, who by the way continued to have a cold, received the Miss World sash behind the stage and then went out to receive the trophy from Fairley, sat on the royal throne, where a pair of pages placed on her shoulders the ermine layer and her predecessor, Madeleine Hartog Bel, then proceeded to crown her as the brand new Miss World 1968. Madeleine took the trophy from Penny and handed her the scepter so that the new queen would give her triumphal walk to the beat of the official march of the event .

                Penny Plummer, a blonde librarian with blue-gray eyes, who liked riding motorcycles, surfing, writing, sewing and interior decorating, 5 feet 8 inches tall, 133 pounds in weight and measurements 35-23-35, won a check for £ 2500 pounds, a silver trophy, a film test and the possibility of winning another £ 30,000 in personal appearances during her reign year. At the end of the transmission she fainted from the emotion, as it happened with her predecessor. “I am completely amazed, I thought Thailand would win”, said the beautiful blonde girl. After her triumph she was taken to Independent Television studios where she offered her first interview and from where she was able to communicate with her parents via telephone. “I have a cold. My nose is running. But I still made it. I feel wonderful. I can’t believe it,” she told them. From there they took her to Cafe Royal, where the Coronation Party was held. At the party she officially received her check for £ 2500. Similarly, Morley presented the prizes to the sixth and seventh place winners, Miss NICARAGUA and Miss GUYANA, who obtained 50 and 25 pounds respectively.


                Miss U.S.A. said at the coronation ball she was defeated in the Miss World contest because the judges were more interested in Vietnam than her 36-24-36. Johnine Avery said politics so clouded the competition – won by Miss Australia – that contest officials insulted her and her red, white and blue costume. One even called her a “rapist of little countries,” Miss Avery told United Press International. “I’ve been treated abominably ever since I got here. I was warned of this by last year’s contestant,” she said. Miss USA, who describes her hair as “honey” and her eyes as “chameleon,” said “just before I was to go on stage, a contest official called me a warmonger.” Miss Avery failed to survive the judges’ first elimination when the 53 girls from around the world were trimmed to 15. Afterwards, at the victory celebration, Miss Avery was sitting in a corner taking notes for a “comedy spoof” on beauty contests. She is a television writer. “This whole contest has been tinged with politics,” she said, scribbling rapidly on the back of the chicken dinner menu. “More than half the judges were British,” she said. “And they ignored the fact Miss South Africa was gorgeous. Everyone thought she would come up close, but she didn’t even place in the first set of finalists,” she said, pushing away her plate. “Several of the contestants have said there was something funny about this contest,” she confided. A friend came up to the table to give his condolences to Miss U.S.A. “I can’t understand why you didn’t place,” he said. “Well, there’s a war in Vietnam at home,” she answered, “and judges here seem to think politics has something to do with beauty.” The first hint of politics entering the 1968 Miss World beauty pageant came Wednesday (13th) when Miss Spain withdrew from the contest in a huff, saying she would not compete alongside “that girl” Miss Gibraltar. She accused Miss Gibraltar of making “political statements” about the territorial status of the rock – a British crown colony coveted by Spain.


                The new Miss World received the press, as usual, in her room at the Waldorf hotel, where she posed having breakfast in bed and looked radiant despite having only slept for two hours. She confessed to the media that her greatest ambition was to marry and have many children and that she wanted to meet Princess Anne of England. With the money, she said that she could by a car and the rest would be put in the bank. Later, she and Miss United Kingdom visited the Mayor of London, Sir Charles Trinder, in the Mansion House. Both were cheered after their ride in a horse-drawn carriage for a reception at the Strand Palace hotel where they would have lunch with Graham Hill. Penelope was a judge in the election of the “Ideal Secretary” held at the Savoy hotel and attended a reception offered by the Australian Embassy in London. On Monday 18, she was diagnosed with influenza, so she had to rest. On Tuesday, November 19, her mother, Mrs. Wanda Plummer, arrived in London and the following Saturday, her boyfriend, Michael Clarke, 19. Penny decided to remain in London to start her modeling career before leaving for the US on December 11, where she would later travel to Vietnam and Thailand with Bob Hope on an 18-day tour, visiting the US army bases during Christmas. After her trip to Vietnam, Penny returned to London. In September of 1969 she went on a tour of Australia from where she did not return and therefore she was not present in the election of her successor in November of 1969. The transmission of the 1968 Miss World contest led the BBC-1 audience that week, and reached more than 10 million homes, 1,550,000 more than the second most popular ITV program of the week.


                She arrived in London last week dressed in a magnificent pastel mink and matching hat. She is the most famous woman in the history of Peru and owns a chain of profitable boutiques. Madelaine Hartog-Bel, Miss World 1967, made the most of her moment of glory. Like her successor, Penelope Plummer, of Australia, Miss Hartog-Bel is part of a multi-million-dollar international national industry. Even a small country like Yugoslavia can spend $50,000 organising its qualifying competitions. With almost 60 countries taking part the total costs certainly approach $6 million. The sponsor, Mecca Ltd., gives the proceeds to charity and claims to make no direct cash out of the promotion. The firm takes 25 percent of Miss World’s earnings in management fees, but this is unlikely to be more than about $14,000. “We do it for the publicity,” explains one of the directors, happily adding, “it’s the most publicised single event in the world.” It may be, but no one seems clear what this means for Mecca. For the past three years profits have remained virtually static. In 1967 profits before tax declined 9 percent, on 1966 to $2,700,000. Perhaps more Miss Worlds are needed. But if Mecca makes no money directly out of the competition plenty of other sponsors do. The qualifying competitions are run by magazines, newspapers, television stations, promotional firms, and Government tourist boards. Miss Israel, who this year came third, should prove a highly profitable young lady for “Elasha,” the Israeli women’s magazine. Debie Namir, a brooding delegate hidden behind enormous sunglasses, explained at the Miss World gala night last week that “Elasha” has the biggest weekly circulation of any magazine in Israel. “Miss Israel will help to double our sales and raise the number of pages from 60 to 84 for over four weeks.” In Turkey, the competition is sponsored by “Milliyet,” the second-largest newspaper, with a circulation of 300,000 copies daily. During the contest to elect Miss Turkey, sales increased by 2 percent and advertising revenue by 1 percent. “Our woman readership rises,” says Necdet Gumkut, on the staff of the paper. “But it is not a completely commercial affair. We are doing it partly for the prestige of Turkey,” he adds. Prestige and profits are the main motives of those who run the national competitions. Sometimes, after a government has seen how valuable the publicity can be, it takes over the running of the competition. Uganda, Nigeria, and Ghana all have their beauty queens elected with the blessings of the State. Three newspapers and a television company run the Miss Luxembourg competition, and in Peru Pan-American TV is the promoter. The latter devotes 80 hours of television to the contest and sells the advertising time at $720 a minute. “I suppose you wish to know how we, a Socialist country, can justify taking part in the Miss World competition?” David Husic, a journalist on “Politika,” the Yugoslav newspaper, grinned. He had no direct answer, but chuckled and said, “There were grumblings at first, but after we released a photograph of Miss Yugoslavia kissing the President nobody said a word against the contest.” For the girls themselves the Miss World competition can be very profitable. Even if they do not win they have already won their national competition and return home to offers of modelling, film parts, and marriage.


                Penelope Vaughn Plummer was born in Melbourne on October 26, 1949. Her father R.T. Plummer had a dairy farm and her mother Wanda was a housewife. She had a brother named Roger. She lived in Smithtown, a small town on the banks of the Macleay River in New South Wales, Australia. Penny, as they affectionately called her, worked as a librarian at the Waverley Municipal Library, just outside Sydney. At age 18, on September 29, 1968, in Melbourne, she won the crown of “Miss Australia World” in the contest “Quest of Quests” and accompanied Miss World 1967, the Peruvian Madeleine Hartog, on her tour of several Australian cities. In London she won the 18th Miss World crown on Thursday, November 14, 1968. Her cousin Janette McLeod won the title of “Miss Teen International” for Australia the same year. With Bob Hope, she toured Hollywood, California and from there she went to Japan, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and Okinawa. She did not relinquish her Miss World crown because she preferred to stay in her country after a promotional tour. Once she stopped being Miss World, she worked for a while as an actress. In 1970 they named a rose with her name in the United Kingdom. On January 1, 1971, she married her lifelong boyfriend, 21-year-old lawyer Michael Roy Clarke in Gosford, New South Wales and moved to Seaforth, outside Sydney. She was a judge in the “Quest of Quest 1972” contest where the winner was the one who would be the second Australian to win the title of Miss World. In February 1973 her first daughter, Prudence, was born. Years later, she had Alexander and later a last daughter, whose name is unknown. From Seaforth, the family moved to Nowra, in New South Wales where she continued doing occasional modeling work. Her firstborn, Prue, became a successful international journalist and gave two grandchildren (Lucca Banjo and Aurelia) to who was Miss World 1968. Penny currently lives in Taree, New South Wales, away from the press. From the decline of current beauty contests, she believes that it is “due to lack of public interest and a saturated market”. “They told me that after my triumph, people seemed to lose interest in beauty queens.” Was expected. It’s like anything else that people care about and then get tired. “


Cherry Núñez

                That year little is known about what the rest of the contestants of the Miss World 1968 did. Miss Italy, Maria Pia Giamporcaro, became a famous actress in her country adopting the name of Pia Giancaro. Miss Kenya, Josephine Moraa Moikobu, became a doctor and emigrated to the US where she died on November 2, 2015. Johnine Avery, Miss USA, starred in some comedies with Bob Hope. She married the Italian prince Ugo Colonna in 1992 from whom she widowed in 2004. Her stepson, Duke Odonne Colonna, accused her of being a bigamist because she was married to a South African when she married the prince. In December 2018, the court declared that Avery, then 72, was the rightful heiress of the prince’s fortune that includes the Colonna Palace located in the central part of Rome. Miss Ireland, June McMahon, married Irish businessman Michael Gerard Keane and had three sons, Alan, Derek and Eamonn. She died in Dublin on August 29, 2018. Pinky Amabuyok from the Philippines married Caesar Santos and had three daughters. She currently lives in Beverly Hills, California and helps her husband in a food business. She is also an interior designer. Miss Venezuela, Cherry Núñez, after returning from London, graduated from high school, then decided to study theater at the Central University of Venezuela and subsequently conducted a radio program for 3 years. In the 80s she became interested in political work and thanks to that she won the title as Councilor for Transportation of Baruta Municipality for the period 1993-1996. Later she became the general director of one of the largest advertising companies in Venezuela: ARS Publicidad. She has 3 daughters and currently lives between Caracas and Miami.


Thanks to Donald West, Daryl Schabinger and Edman Raúl Imagen.


One response to “Miss World 1968”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: