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Miss World 1969

By Julio Rodríguez Matute


                1969 was a year of achievements. On July 20, astronaut Neil Armstrong placed his foot on the Moon and Edwin Aldrin accompanied him on the historic walk on the lunar surface. Apollo 11 wins the United States space race. The moon landing was followed live on television by some 500 million people worldwide. That year, half a million people gathered near the town of Woodstock, New York, to carry out four days of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Among the participants of the event, Janis Joplin, The Who and Jimi Hendrix stood out. About 250,000 people marched in Washington to protest the Vietnam war. Hurricane Camille hit the Mississippi coast killing 248 people. The average price of a new house in the US was about 15 thousand dollars, while the average of an annual salary was almost nine thousand dollars. The gallon of gasoline in that country reached 35 cents. Richard Nixon becomes president of the United States while French President Charles de Gaulle resigns his position and Golda Meir assumes as Prime Minister of Israel. British troops disembark in Anguilla ending their self-declared independence. The Concorde and the Jumbo Boeing 747 make their first test flights. A DC-9 plane from Viasa bound for Miami crashes when it takes off over an urbanization in Maracaibo with a balance of 155 dead, almost half of them on the ground. In New York there are the Stonewall riots that were the origins of the gay pride day, the subway is inaugurated in Mexico City and the Andean Pact is created in South America. Franco declares the Martial Law in Spain and this country closes its borders with Gibraltar, which do not open again until 1982. In Argentina the “Cordobazo” explodes, in Northern Ireland there are violent riots and the war between El Salvador and Honduras begins because of a football match while Muammar Gaddafi gains power in Libya after a coup d’etat. This year the CCD sensor and the U-Matic cassette are invented. US banks install ATMs for the first time and the Wal-Mart stores and Wendy’s fast food restaurant are inaugurated. Gloria Díaz from the Philippines is crowned Miss Universe in Miami Beach and in the Eurovision Festival held in Spain four nations win: United Kingdom (with singer Lulu), Netherlands (with Lenny Kuhr), France (with Frida Boccara) and Spain ( with Salome). The Federal Communications Commission of the United States (FCC), banned all cigarette advertising on radio and television. In November the transmission of color TV began in the United Kingdom. “Sesame Street”, “Scooby-Doo” and “Archie’s” begin to air on American TV. In 1969 the actresses Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger and Jennifer Aniston; the Mexican singers Lucero and Pedro Fernández, and the world champion of Formula One, the German Michael Schumacher, were born. The Beatles release the album “Abbey Road” and make their last performance in public, the movie “Hello Dolly” directed by Gene Kelly and starring Barbra Streisand is released in the cinema, while Robert Redford and Paul Newman premiere “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid “and Frank Sinatra launches his” My Way” album. John Lennon and Yoko Ono got married in Gibraltar; Judy Garland, protagonist of the “Wizard of Oz”, died in London of a drug overdose while actress Sharon Tate, wife of the filmmaker Roman Polanski and almost nine months pregnant, was murdered at her home in Los Angeles along with others four people by the sect called “Manson Family” directed by Charles Manson. Venezuelan ex-president and writer Romulo Gallegos, former US president Dwight Eisenhower and former world boxing champion Rocky Marciano, the latter in an aviation accident, also died.


                On the other hand, Penny Plummer, Miss World, continued working as a model in the United Kingdom, had signed a three-month contract to be the image of an important British tobacco company and was present at the launch of the Jensen car model in the Harrods department store, in Knightsbridge, on June 17, 1969 and with which she made her British tour. The car had a special interior that turned the car into a mobile office for the busy executive. At a cost of six thousand five hundred and eighty-one pounds, it was equipped with an Air Call radio telephone, a FI-Cord 300 reel dictator, a typewriter on a drop-down desk, a Sony portable television, a shaver Wireless electric, an insulated food compartment and a set of custom luggage. After her tour of Great Britain, at the end of July, she had liver problems, so she had to rest. At her own request, Penny decided that she would not live in a hotel in London during her year of reign. She asked Morley to rent an apartment, which she shared with other girls, two Australians, a Briton and a New Zealander, who shared with her in her spare time. By the way, Penny reported that the press just wanted to interview her to know the “bad” side of the contest and often wrote that she hated being Miss World, which she flatly denied. On October 1 she traveled to her country, Australia, for the first time after winning the crown, for a six-week tour of the different Australian cities, which also included stops in Thailand, Hong Kong and New Zealand. In Bangkok she became ill with gastroenteritis that almost prevented her from being present at the “Quest of Quests” contest held in Sydney on October 5. Penny had to return to London in mid-November to crown her successor, but this did not happen due to health problems, so she decided to stay at home in Australia and Morley decided to look for a personality to crown the new Miss World.

Miss Italy


               In the month of October 1969, Julia Morley, wife of the Director of Mecca Promotions, Eric Morley and mother of her five children, entered to work in the company to deal exclusively with the Miss World pageant. This brought protests and claims by the staff, who promptly handed in their notice, including who was until that time Director, Miss Jean Gibbons. “I guess I can’t blame them,” Mrs. Morley said coldly. “But I think they could have waited to see what I was like.” If they had done so, at least the men could have decided to stay. Julia Morley, a 30-year-old ex-model, looked like she would surely put many of the contestants in the shade. Since her marriage in 1960, she had always played an important role in the world beauty contest that her husband dreamed up. “But this is the first time they have let me loose on the whole thing somehow I’ve got to prove that I am worth it”. Miss World is a £ 40,000 stunt that Mecca is happy to finance every year, simply because, as Mrs Morley says, “the publicity is something you could never buy.” In her new position, she is responsible for everything from sponsors to bathrooms. “People think I got the job because of my husband. But it’s not true,” she said. To prove it, she is ready to come up with plenty of criticisms of the way the contest is organized. For a start, the thought of all those girls cooped up in the Waldorf without any company, only with their female chaperones and that was “very unhealthy.”

Miss South Africa and Miss Sweden

                The “sponsors” of sixty-five nations of the world prepared to register their representatives in the global beauty contest. That year Honduras, Singapore, Syria, Tanzania and Trinidad-Tobago renounced the rights of the Miss World while Egypt resumed the franchise after more than a decade of absence. However, after making preliminary competitions in different cities and just days before the election of the new Miss Egypt at the end of October, the contest was canceled due to protests by Sunni Muslims. In Kenya there was no national contest, while in Malaysia they did not select any candidate for Miss World. In Nigeria there was no contest in 1969, however the organizers of that African country hand-picked Morenike Faribido. In Portugal, a contest was held only to send its representative to Miss International, which was held again in Japan for the second consecutive year, but no one was selected to represent the country in London.


                * Eva Von Rueber-Staier 19, won the title of “Miss Austria 1968”. She would represent her country the following year in Miss Universe and Miss World.

                * Miss Alsace, Suzanne Angly, a 17-year-old perfume saleswoman was crowned “Miss France 1969” in Bordeaux on January 1. That year, the rights of Miss World returned to the De Fontenay family. The finalists were Miss Normandie, Micheline Beaugrain, Miss Paris Elegance, Beatrice Demiaude and Miss Jura-Franche-Comte, Brigitte Vuillemin.

                * The election of Miss Ecuador was held on June 12, 1969, at Ecuavisa studios, organized by the El Comercio and El Telégrafo newspapers, Vistazo Magazine, and Channel 2. In this edition three finalists received the title of Miss Ecuador : Rosana Vinueza Estrada to Miss Universe, Ximena Aulestia Díaz to Miss World, and Alexandra Swamberg to Miss International.

                * The contest “Girl 1969” (Miss Czechoslovakia) was held on June 14. On this occasion, the winner, Krystina Hanzalová, was designated to go to Miss Universe. The finalists were Marcela Bitnarová (to Miss World) and Marta Rausuvá. 12 finalists participated.

                * On Tuesday, July 1, the “Miss Venezuela 1969” contest was held at the Paris Theater in Caracas, in an event that was attended by 17 candidates. The winner was María José Yellici, who decided to give up the crown after returning from Miss Universe to marry her boyfriend, Guillermo Zuloaga, who years later would become president of the Venezuelan TV channel, Globovisión. The first runner-up, Marzia Piazza, inherited the title and crown of Miss Venezuela and as such was crowned on October 15, 1969. She subsequently traveled to London to Miss World, being the fourth Miss Venezuela titleholder (1955, 1957, 1958 and 1969) to represent the country in the British contest. Meanwhile, Yellici’s wedding with her boyfriend did not take place …

                * In 1969, the rights of Miss World in Mexico were given to the official contest, Miss Mexico. The event was held on Friday, July 4, 1969, at the Camino Real Hotel in Mexico City. The winner, Gloria Leticia Hernández Martín del Campo, from Guanajuato, would represent her country in the Miss Universe and Miss World of that year. The finalists were María de los Ángeles Pareja Reyes (Federal District), María del Sagrado Corazón Acosta de la Peña (Durango), María del Carmen Robert Huerta (Federal District) and Marilina Roquet (Federal District).

                * Forty young ladies, including Miss England, Miss Wales and Miss Scotland, competed for the crown of “Miss United Kingdom 1969” on Friday, August 15 in Blackpool. The winner was Miss Scotland, Sheena Drummond, who won the first Miss United Kingdom crown for that country. The finalists were Miss Portsmouth, Catherine Leigh and Miss Liverpool, Jenny McAdam (later Miss England 1972).

                * On Saturday, September 20, the election of “Miss World-USA 1969” was held at the Civic Center in Baltimore, Maryland, an event that won the lawsuit filed by Miss Universe, so they could continue using the name. 38 candidates opted for the title (for the first time only states participated) and the winner turned out to be Miss Virginia, Gail Renshaw, in the contest that was hosted by Bob Hope. The finalists were Miss Texas, Connie Haggard; Miss Maryland, Paulette Reck; Miss Delaware, Mary Lou Wirth and Miss Florida, Deborah Anyzeski. The contest was protested by a dozen women who picketed outside the civic center for less than an hour. They complained against the image of tinsel of the women formed by the contest.

Germany, South Africa, Austria and USA

                * The “Quest of Quests 1969” contest was held at the Chevron Hilton hotel in Sydney on Sunday, October 5, with 21 contestants. On this occasion, the winner of the main title “Australia’s Dream Girl”, Joan Zealand, was designated to go to Miss Universe and one of the finalists, Stefanie Meurer, to Miss World. The event was attended by Miss World 1968, the Australian Penelope Plummer.

                * In 1969, the rights of Miss World in the Philippines went to Spotlight Promotions of Ferdie Villar, who made the election of “Miss Republic of the Philippines 1970” (in October 1969). The first winner of this title was Feliza “Liza” Teresa Our Miro.

                * The contest “Miss Argentina for Miss World” was held on October 31 during the television show “El Mundo del Espectaculo” (The World of the Show) on channel 13, conducted by Héctor Larrea and was attended by 15 finalists. The winner was Miss Gran Buenos Aires, 21-year-old Graciela Marino, model and English teacher. Graciela was born on December 4, 1948 in the province of San Juan but lived in Greater Buenos Aires. The new beauty queen was 5 feet 7 inches tall and her measurements were 36-24-36; She worked as an English teacher at a school in San Isidro. The First Princess was Rita Saba and the Second Princess, Maria Eva Ducas.

                * The Chilean magazine Eva took responsibility for organizing the contest to elect the representative of that country to Miss World. At the beginning of November, the 21 candidates paraded the runway of the Hotel Carrera of Santiago, a group that was reduced to 5 finalists. The winner was Ana María Nazar and the finalists Soledad Errázuriz, María Angélica Vallejos, María Graciela Arellanos and María Luisa Solar.

                * In Nicaragua, the organizers decided on this occasion that the winner (Soraya Herrera Chávez) would go to Miss Universe and the first runner-up (Carlota Marina Brenes López), to Miss World. In Holland, Nente van der Vliet again became the first runner-up as she previously did in the “Miss Holland 1967” pageant. But this time she was sent to an international contest: Miss World 1969. While the “Miss Paraguay 1969” contest was held late, so the winner, Blancanieves Zaldívar Rodríguez, was sent only to Miss World.




               Thanks to the arrival of colour TV broadcasts in the United Kingdom and to make a much larger contest, Eric Morley decided to move the finals of Miss World from the Lyceum ballroom, where the contest was held since it was created, to the imposing Royal Albert Hall theater, opened in 1871 in South Kensignton, London. The Lyceum had already been considered too small for the number of people who wanted to witness the world beauty event live, the press and all the paraphernalia of television. On the other hand, and in talks with the BBC-1, the final of the contest was also postponed by the end of November, Thursday 27. The BBC producer, Philip Lewis, would be using nine cameras for the first time in the contest broadcast. Mecca hired a group of 13 chaperones, all uniformed and supervised by Julia Morley, to take care of the 62 contestants. Among them were Carol Foster (22), Susan Dixon (22), Annette Middleton (27), Vivienne Webb (27), Diane McLeod (22) and Diane Lewis (26). The organizers also informed that almost all the tickets for the finals at the Royal Albert Hall were already sold out. On the other hand, that year’s program book was being sponsored by the Daily Mirror newspaper for the first time.

                This year’s event would take place over 10 days, from November 18 to 28, with the first two days dedicated to arrivals. However, the first to arrive was Miss Canada, who did it on Wednesday, November 12 accompanied by her father. The next to arrive were Miss Venezuela and Miss Japan on Sunday 16, while the representatives of South Africa, Jamaica, Turkey and Gibraltar made an appearance the next day. Between November 18 and 19 many of the candidates arrived to total 45 to that time.

                Miss Australia, Stefanie Meurer, flew to London on Wednesday 19 and the first thing she did was celebrate her 21st birthday party surrounded by the other contestants. None Emiko Karashima, Miss Japan, finally had the opportunity to speak that day !! Miss Karashima did not speak English and did not have an interpreter, so she had not been able to speak with anyone since her arrival in London. In previous years, the contestant from Japan had arrived with a companion who took care of her, interpreted English and helped her with the laborious task of tying her kimono. But this year they didn’t send any companions. On Wednesday 19, two Japanese men showed up at the Waldorf Hotel where Miss World contestants were staying. The men announced in their limited English to Julia Morley that they would take Miss Karashima to lunch at the Nipponese Club. The contest official told the two Japanese that the contestants could not leave the hotel. The Japanese could not understand and repeated that they were taking Miss Karashima for lunch. The official tried sign language, but finally despaired and gave up. In a few minutes, Miss Karashima went to lunch at the Nipponese Club, chatting happily with her new hosts.

                In the other hand, Miss USA thought she might have lost a few inches off her 39-25-37 figure in the plane on the way to London for the 1969 Miss World contest. “I really starved to death,” said 22-year-old Gail Renshaw. “We were delayed over London airport for an hour. I ate my chaperone’s dinner as well as my own but I think my figure has still gone down to 38-24-37.” The green-eyed American contestant arrived in London from New York Wednesday ready to see “as many British art galleries as I can” and determined not be birdish in her eating. “I don’t care if I gain or lose a few pounds before the contest. It’s just fun for me,” she said.

               This year and at the idea of Julia Morley, the “roommates” were designated by the alphabetical order of the countries, so that the girls had a direct relationship with each other regardless of language or culture. That was how Miss Argentina was the roommate of Miss Australia, Miss Austria with Miss Bahamas and so on. The candidates from Tunisia and Turkey, who initially shared a room, got along very badly and were about to pull their hair, so Julia Morley decided to change them. She put the Tunisian girl with Miss Sweden and the Turkish one with Miss South Africa.


                The contest was just beginning and it was already in the middle of a controversy. The British Young Liberals, the youth section of the British liberal party, opened a campaign on Thursday 20th to ban and replace Miss South Africa, Linda Collett, 18, and asked the organizers to withdraw her. The Young Liberals claimed that Miss Collett’s selection had not been decided non-racially and that, in fact, she only represented white South Africans. Liberal youth leader Louis Eaks said “she was a racist selection” unrepresentative of her black majority country. However, the request was rejected. Mecca Promotions, the organizers, ignored the campaign and allowed Miss South Africa to continue in the competition. They said that the contest was completely non-political. It was, in fact, being held in aid of charity, proceeds going to handicapped children.


                This year there were changes in the Miss World activity schedule, with Julia Morley in charge. According to her, what the girls needed was the company of some men. So the itinerary was reordered to include a reception in the Wellington barracks. There were also reservations for lunch with some Chelsea pensioners. In addition to the chaperones, some of the sponsors could also go into shock. In previous years, items such as cosmetics for girls had always been provided by the same companies, but for next year, if Ms. Morley had her way, the contracts would open to the market “for the highest bidder.”

                The first official activity of the 1969 contest was the visit to the House of Commons on Thursday, November 20 in the morning, guided by the parliamentarian Sir Stephen J. McAdden. In the afternoon, the candidates attended a beauty salon and in the evening the usual Press Presentation was held at the Waldorf Hotel, where the girls showed up in bathing suits for local and international media. The 45 girls who showed up were:

                Miss ARGENTINA (Graciela Marino), Miss AUSTRALIA (Stefanie Meurer), Miss AUSTRIA (Eva Von Rueber-Staier), Miss BAHAMAS (Wanda “Ida” Pearce), Miss BELGIUM (Maud Alin), Miss BRAZIL (Ana Cristina Rodrigues), Miss CANADA (Jacquie May Perrin), Miss COLOMBIA (Lina María García Ogliastri), Miss COSTA RICA (Damaris Ureña), Miss CYPRUS (Flora Diaouri), Miss CZECHOSLOVAKIA (Marcela Bitnarova), Miss DENMARK (Jeanne Perfeldt), Miss DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (Sandra Simone Cabrera Cabral), Miss ECUADOR (Ximena Lourdes Aulestia Díaz), Miss FINLAND (Päivi Ilona Raita), Miss FRANCE (Suzanne Angly), Miss GERMANY (Christa Margraf), Miss GAMBIA (Marie Carayol), Miss GIBRALTAR (Marilou Chiappe), Miss GREECE (Helena Alexopoulou), Miss GUYANA (Pamela Patricia Lord), Miss HOLLAND (Nente van der Vliet), Miss ICELAND (Ragnheidur Pétursdóttir), Miss IRELAND (Hilary Clarke), Miss ISRAEL (Tehila Selah), Miss JAMAICA (Marilyn Elizabeth Taylor), Miss JAPAN (None Emiko Karashima), Miss LIBERIA (Antionette Coleman), Miss LUXEMBOURG (Jacqueline Schaeffer), Miss MALTA (Mary Brincat), Miss MEXICO (Gloria Leticia Hernández Martín del Campo), Miss NEW ZEALAND (Carole Robinson), Miss NICARAGUA (Carlota Marina Brenes López), Miss NIGERIA (Morenike Faribido), Miss NORWAY (Kjersti Jortun), Miss PHILIPPINES (Feliza “Liza” Teresa Our Miro), Miss SEYCHELLES (Sylvia Labonte), Miss SOUTH AFRICA (Linda Meryl Collett), Miss SWEDEN (Ingrid Marie Ahlin), Miss TUNISIA (Zohra Tabania ), Miss TURKEY (Sermin Aysin), Miss UNITED KINGDOM (Sheena Drummond), Miss UNITED STATES (Gail Renshaw), Miss VENEZUELA (Marzia Rita Isela Piazza Suprani) and Miss YUGOSLAVIA (Radmila Zivkovic).

               The contestant with the most daring swimsuit was Miss Malta, with a blue swimsuit that only covered the navel area by a thin thread of cloth and the rest of the belly exposed. Of course, she was the most photographed and considered an ultra favorite candidate since that time. By the way, Miss Malta was the tallest contestant at 5 feet 10 inches, compared to Miss Costa Rica, Miss Cyprus, Miss Gambia and Miss Seychelles who were only 5 feet 3 inches tall. From participating in Miss Universe came Miss Austria (who qualified as a semifinalist), Miss Canada, Miss Denmark, Miss New Zealand (elected Miss Photogenic in Miami Beach), Miss Mexico and Miss United Kingdom (who participated as Miss Scotland). The Danish girl had been 1st runner-up at Miss Europe in 1969. Miss Belgium, Miss France and Miss Luxembourg also participated in that continental event.

                On Friday 21, Miss INDIA (Adina Shellim) and Miss PARAGUAY (Blancanieves Zaldívar Rodríguez) arrived. At noon, the Variety Club of Great Britain gala luncheon was held at the Savoy hotel with the assistance of the 47 candidates who had so far arrived. As usual, the girls attended dressed in their national costumes and brought with them their traditional gifts that would be auctioned for the benefit of children’s charities of the Club. Among the gifts were a beautiful display of polished oyster shells from Miss Japan and a colorful book that described, with images, the natural beauties of her country, courtesy of Miss Bahamas. The beautiful contestants were received by Earl Mountbatten of Burma, and by the US Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Walter Annenberg, among other personalities. Ambassador Annenberg posed with Miss United States, Gail Renshaw and the photographers asked if a kiss would be appropriate, but he replied smiling: “No, it would not be appropriate, not in front of all of you.” Each contestant climbed into a chair to be introduced to attendees and Miss Holland suffered a small accident: She stepped on her long skirt with one of her clogs and as she went up, the back of her skirt went down. Meanwhile, at the airport, a group of photographers waited for the weekly flight that came from Chile to see their candidate arriving, but she did not. Morley said that maybe Miss Chile had gotten off the plane at some stopover.

                On Saturday 22, the beauties went shopping, visited some tourist attractions and took pictures with the Welsh Guard Drummers. They also hosted a lunch with the pensioners of the Royal Chelsea Hospital at the Waldorf Hotel and visited the soldiers of the domestic cavalry in the Wellington barracks. In the afternoon, back to the hairdresser. In the evening they attended an elegant dinner courtesy of Air France. Sunday 23 was a rest day. Some contestants attended Mass and a group of 18 participants attended a photo shoot at Hyde Park to advertise a sponsoring brand of coats and mini skirts. Those selected for the photos by the sponsoring brand were the representatives of the Philippines, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Malta, France, Argentina, Venezuela, Iceland, Gibraltar, Austria, USA, Belgium, New Zealand, Israel, South Africa, Germany, Sweden and Yugoslavia. Meanwhile, Miss United Kingdom celebrated her birthday at the Waldorf Hotel along with the rest of the contestants. On that day, the official photographs were also taken and Miss KOREA (Seung-hee Kim) and Miss CHILE (Ana María Nazar Mayor del Arco) arrived in London.

               There was also time to receive the press and give interviews, so that journalists and the public could get to know them a little better. Miss Holland was 23 years old and worked as a receptionist. In addition to her native Dutch, she spoke English, French and German. Miss Liberia was 19 years old and a student from the city of Clay-Ashland. Her ambition was to become a business administrator. Miss Korea was also 19 years old and a student, but considered herself less ambitious: She wanted to become a “household wife.” Miss Luxembourg, 18, was a teacher and came from the city of Esch Alzette. She liked reading, sports, cooking and correspondence. Miss Argentina, twenty-one, was a Spanish-English interpreter. She liked to sing, act, teach and play sports. This was the first visit to England for Miss Denmark, who was a secretary. She listed her hobbies such as swimming, walking, reading and dressmaking. Miss Costa Rica was only 17 years old. On her first visit to England, she would also like to meet Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain. Miss Greece, an 18-year-old model, was hoping to become a film actress. Her hobbies were varied, including motorcycling, social work and cultural activities. Miss South Africa came from Durban, where she was a university student. Miss Malta, 17, came from Gzira and liked cats as pets. Owning a clothing store was the ambition of Miss Japan, 20, of Kita Kyushu and, like most Japanese girls, she had no occupation. Miss Austria was also 20 years of age and wanted to be a photographic model. She came from Graz and had two unusual ambitions: She would like to see a figure of herself in the famous London wax exhibition, Madame Tussaud’s and the Loch Ness lake monster. Miss Norway was a language student and spoke English, German and French in addition to her own. She wanted to build herself a cottage in the Norwegian mountains. Miss Germany was a student of history, sociology and German literature. Miss Jamaica, twenty, was the head cashier in the account’s department of a firm in Kingston. On her first visit to England, she wanted to see the colorful ‘changing of the guard’ ceremony. Miss Finland was 19 years old. It was also her first visit to England, she liked gymnastics, modern dance, singing, music and knitting.

With Sir Stephen J McAdden at the House of Commons


                A big scare over nude photos upset the Miss World beauties on Sunday, just as Switzerland announced her contestant was being withdrawn because last year’s Swiss Miss showed up nude in a London magazine. An official warning went out to this year’s contestants: “Don’t strip for pictures. You’ll be sorry.” Photographers, believed to be freelance, had been trying to tempt some of the most beautiful girls in the world to appear in the altogether for sexy magazines. Contest organiser, 30-year-old Julia Morley, said that night: “Some of these girls are just 17 years old”. “Imagine what their families and sponsors would think if they were tricked into posing in the nude”. At least one photographer has been banned completely, but it was believed there may be others trying to tempt the girls. “One photographer from a London nudie magazine approached several of our girls for nude photos. We rang the magazine and told them that if he came back we would have to sling him out,” Mrs. Money said. One contestant who was approached to make nude pictures was Miss U.S.A.. 22-year-old Gail Renshaw: a curvy 39-25-37. “I told him to forget it. I didn’t need that kind of money,” she said. Meantime 19-year-old secretary Liselotte Pouli, Miss Switzerland was at home trying not to show her disappointment after being told to unpack her suitcases. Liselotte’s sponsors , a Swiss newspaper, decided not to enter her because last year’s Miss Switzerland appeared nude in a British magazine for men. “It is bad for our country’s image,” said a spokesman in Zurich last night.


               Meanwhile, in Barcelona, ​​Miss SPAIN (Genoveva Noelia Afonso Cabrera), was very upset because she thought she had not been invited to participate in Miss World. “That’s not true, we would love to have her here,” said Julia Morley. “We can accept her if she arrives by November 24,” she added. It was not that they had not invited her, but that the organizers in Spain had not sent their signature in the contract they had sent to them so that the girl could be properly invited. Another of the absent ones was Miss ITALY (Anna Zamboni). The organizer Enzo Mirigliani explained her absence: “The Miss World contest seems to me only a speculation; the candidates must pay the trip and the expenses. For a week they are strolled through London, as guests of this or that place, with no other object than to publicize them. On the other hand, the jury does not seem in a position to exercise a perfect equanimity of judgment, especially with regard to candidates from Latin countries”.

                At the last minute, other countries excused themselves from sending their queens. Miss CEYLON (Methsili Silva), Miss DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO (Jeanne Mokomo), Miss GHANA (Victoria Folson), Miss UGANDA (Charlote Ssali) and Miss THAILAND (Phanarat Phisutthisak), in addition to representatives of PANAMA and PERU that apparently had been designated but whose names are unknown. Besides, the sponsors of Miss MOROCCO (Rahima Hachti), decided to send her better to Miss Maja International in neighboring Spain after she competed in Japan in Miss International.


                Miss Bahamas was excluded on Sunday November 23 from the Miss World contest because she was only 16 years old. The minimum age for the contest was 17, and Miss Bahamas, Ida Pearce, would not have it until January 12. Mrs. Julia Morley, organizer of the contest, said she discovered the issue of age during a passport control of the competitors she made that Sunday. “Poor girl, but you can try next year,” Mrs. Morley consoled her. Contest officials said Ida, a student, could appear in the contest finals Thursday night, but only to gain experience in the competition.


                A bus taking 30 Miss World contestants to a rehearsal ran into the back of a car in London’s heavy traffic on Monday, November 24. None of the contestants was injured, but a chaperone had three stitches in her head… The participants spent that day and Tuesday 25 at the Royal Albert Hall rehearsing for the final night. The deadline for arrival was Monday 24, however, a participant confirmed to arrive was still missing. It was Miss Lebanon, who was chosen quite late and also had visa problems. The Lebanese beauty confirmed her arrival on Wednesday 26, so Morley made the exception of waiting until that day as long as she arrived before the pre-recording in national costumes and the general rehearsal.

                And indeed, in the early hours of Wednesday, November 26, the missing one arrived, Miss LEBANON (Roula Majzoub) totaling 50 competitors. That day, the girls went to the Alan’s Beauty salon in Piccadilly in groups, had the general rehearsal at the Royal Albert Hall and at night they recorded the introduction of the contest, with Lionel Blair and his dancers, who were in charge of the musical opening number of the contest, and the prerecording that was done with the introduction of all the participants in their national costumes, also showing the official close-ups of each candidate. The happiest was Miss United Kingdom, who was visited by her boyfriend, Jim Hill, in rehearsals. In that general rehearsal they crowned Miss Dominican Republic as Miss World. The most beloved candidate of all was Miss Seychelles, Sylvia Labonte, who made others laugh with her occurrences. She was the unofficial Miss Personality of that year. Miss Austria, Eva Rueber-Staier, was writing a diary during her participation in the contest. That Wednesday 26, she wrote that just one day before the final, she didn’t know how to describe what she felt. She said she didn’t feel nervous and didn’t want to win, but if she did win it would be great. All the other contestants were very nervous, except Miss Venezuela, who had dreamed that she had won and told everyone that she was going to win and that everyone should pack and return home. Miss Bahamas, the Austrian’s roommate and the youngest of all the participants, spent all her time crying because of Miss Venezuela and because she was homesick. Just that Wednesday, Miss Austria had bought a simple green dress of £ 7 at the Selfridges store, on Oxford Street, which she would wear at the finals of the contest.


                Fifty of the most beautiful girls in the world finished their rehearsals that night to dream of the fame and fortune that Thursday could bring them at the Miss World contest. Mecca Promotions, organizers of the annual beauty pageant, reported that all competitors were in good shape and free of last minute illnesses that had spoiled previous events. That night, the semifinalists would parade first in evening dresses and then in swimsuits before a jury at the Royal Albert Hall and a television audience of some 28 million people. London gambling houses were busy placing bets on contestants. The favorite of the betting house William Hill was Miss United Kingdom, Sheena Drummond, 18, with 12 to 1. She was 14-1 the day before. Other odds were, with 13-1 Miss Nicaragua; Miss Venezuela and Miss South Africa with 14-1, and with 16-1 Miss Austria, Miss Germany, Miss Denmark, Miss Finland and Miss Israel. While Miss Canada, Jacquie Perrin of Toronto, 21, was rated as an outsider by London bookmakers with odds between 20 to 1 to 33 to 1. Jacquie, whose father runs a public relations business in Orillia, Ontario, was a part-time student and model who liked to folk-sing and speak in public. The odds of 20 to 1 were cited by Ladbroke, one of the two largest bookmakers in London. The other big company, William Hill, rated the young Canadian even more than a “dark horse” with 33 to 1. Ladbroke’s favorite was Miss Malta with 10 to 1, having Miss Norway second with 11 to 1 and Miss United Kingdom and Miss Israel tying for third place with 12 to 1. The organizers of Miss World did not approve these bets. “They doesn’t dignify them and make the girls nervous,” said a contest official.

Miss Argentina


              And it came, Thursday, November 27, the day of the grand finale of the Miss World 1969 contest in its nineteenth edition, an event that was held for the first time in the great Royal Albert Hall of the British capital. 50 girls competed this year, debuting the Seychelles and the return of Paraguay. As always, the doors opened at 7:15 p.m. and at 7:55 a.m., Phil Tate and his orchestra welcomed the contest with a small overture, followed by the National Anthem. After the fanfare announcing the start of the show, Eric Morley entered the stage to welcome and introduced the nine personalities that made up the panel of judges. They were:

1- Henry Cooper, British boxer champion.

2- Michael Crawford, British actor, comedian and singer who starred in “Hello Dolly.”

3- Lady Sarah Courage, Model and wife of the British car racer, Piers Courage.

4- The High Commissioner of Malaysia in the United Kingdom, Abdul Jamil Abdul Rais.

5- Peter Dimmock, BBC Broadcast General Manager and Chairman of the Judges.

6- Omar Sharif, Egyptian actor and main character of the films Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago.

7- Susannah York, British actress.

8- The High Commissioner of Sierra Leone in the United Kingdom, Ambrose Patrick Genda.

9- Francis Chichester, a famous British aviator and navigator, who crossed the world from west to east on his yacht in 226 days in 1966.

                American actor Dean Martin had been invited as a judge but did not arrive and should have been replaced. After meeting the judges, Morley introduced the 50 candidates in their first presentation called “Nations of the World” in swimsuits, who paraded individually and then in groups of six before the judges. After an interval of 15 minutes for the candidates to change into their gowns and for the auditor Charles Jacobs to add the votes that determined who the 15 semifinalists were, the participants went on stage individually, this time in their elegant evening gowns. At 9:10 p.m. the BBC’s uninterrupted broadcast of the contest began for 65 minutes and for the first time in colour, with the prerecording that was done the night before with all the young women in their national costumes. The Master of Ceremonies, Michael Aspel then proceeded to call the 15 semifinalists who once again paraded in evening gowns for the audience and for the first time for TV viewers. As they paraded, the commentator and also host Pete Murray, was describing qualities of each of them. The 15 semifinalists were:

                Miss AUSTRIA (Eva Von Rueber-Staier, 20-year-old model from Graz); Miss CZECHOSLOVAKIA (Marcela Bitnarova, 19-year-old hairdresser from Nachod); Miss FINLAND (Päivi Ilona Raita, a 19-year-old student from Eura); Miss FRANCE (Suzanne Angly, 17-year-old dental assistant, from Mulhouse); Miss GERMANY (Christa Margraf, a 22-year-old history, sociology and German literature student from Eibach); Miss GUYANA (Pamela Patricia Lord, a 24-year-old English and Spanish teacher from Charity); Miss ISRAEL (Tehila Selah, 21-year-old teacher from Ramat HaSharon); Miss JAMAICA (Marilyn Elizabeth Taylor, 20-year-old cashier, from Meadowbrook, St. Andrew); Miss MALTA (Mary Brincat, 17-year-old student from Gzira); Miss NEW ZEALAND (Carole Robinson, 22-year-old secretary from Auckland); Miss NORWAY (Kjersti Jortun, a 19-year-old language student and modeling teacher from Oslo); Miss SOUTH AFRICA (Linda Meryl Collett, 18-year-old acting student from Durban); Miss UNITED KINGDOM (Sheena Drummond, 18 year old typist, from Tullibody, Scotland); Miss UNITED STATES (Gail Renshaw, 22-year-old accountant, from Arlington, Virginia); and Miss VENEZUELA (Marzia Rita Isela Piazza Suprani, 18, from Caracas).

                The most bizarre gown was the one worn by Miss Czechoslovakia, with pants, which apparently did not allow her to advance more in the competition. While the semifinalists switched to their swimsuits, Roy Budd entertained the audience with his perfect piano performance. After the musical intermission, Pete Murray proceeded to present the 15 semifinalists in swimsuits, with comments from Michael Aspel. After the individual presentation, the 15 posed in a group for the judges and turned on their four sides for the judges to select the last 7 finalists. Immediately, Michael Aspel came to stage to call the 7 finalists and as he was calling them he interviewed the girls briefly. The lucky 7 were: Miss AUSTRIA, Miss GERMANY, Miss GUYANA, Miss NORWAY, Miss SOUTH AFRICA, Miss UNITED STATES and Miss VENEZUELA.

               While the judges were deliberating, British-Australian singer Frank Ifield sang two songs. After that, Michal Aspel called Alan B. Fairley of Mecca on stage for the awards ceremony and Eric Morley to announce the results in reverse order. This time, the finalists received their little crowns behind the scenes and Fairley handed them the trophy in public. The results were as follows:

                In fifth place and winner of 100 pounds sterling, Miss VENEZUELA, Marzia Rita Piazza; in the fourth position, Miss GUYANA, Pamela Lord, who tripped and fell before going on stage. She got £ 150. Third, Miss GERMANY, Christa Margraf, with a prize of £ 250. In second place and finalist of Miss World, Miss USA, Gail Renshaw, winner of £ 500. Dressed in a blue sapphire swimsuit, she gasped when she was named a finalist and wiped a tear from her eye. The contest officer who crowned her had trouble adjusting the tiara on her long frosted hair. She took it off and with trembling hands she placed it herself. Behind the scenes were three anxious young ladies: Miss Austria, Miss South Africa and Miss Norway.


                And then Eric Morley announced that MISS WORLD 1969 was … Miss AUSTRIA !!! Eva Rueber-Staier received her sash behind the scenes and hurried on stage. The brand new queen, with a doll’s face, smiling from under a waterfall of straight blond hair and wearing a trimmed striped swimsuit, sat on the throne before a giant tin ball that symbolized the world, while two pages placed her the royal robe and Alan B. Fairley handed her the silver trophy. The Egyptian actor Omar Sharif placed the crown and handed her the scepter so that the beautiful Austrian would give her final walk with the chords of the official Miss World march.

                Eva, blonde with blue-green eyes of 5 feet 7 inches in height, 112 pounds and measurements 36-23-36, who liked to sew, cook and was a fervent sports lover, received a check for 2500 pounds Sterling as a prize and the possibility of earning about £ 30,000 more for advertising and personal appearances during her reign year. She was a favorite of many of the contestants and the chaperones. “We all like Eva,” said one of them. “She had that kind of demure look, which was a nice change from the usual voluptuous beauty queens.”

                The first words of the brand new Miss World were: “I didn’t think I could finish closer to the 15 semifinalists.” “The first thing I want is to have my boyfriend around here.” “Being Miss World is not going to make any difference in my marriage plans.” The date is “sometime next year and we hope to have two or three children.” With an Austrian accent and hoarse voice, she said that all she wanted was “to be a good model.” She worked for photographers in Vienna and said she would like to see a statue of her erected in the famous Madame Tussaud wax factory in London. She managed to phone her boyfriend, the 29-year-old Law student, Peter Stralk to inform him of the good news. In the other hand, the first runner-up declared the following: “I’m through with the beauty pageant business. I plan to stick with accounting and work for a degree.”


                Meanwhile, on the outskirts of the Royal Albert Hall, a group of women demanding the “liberation” of their sex protested the realization of the contest with banners. While the girls paraded through the silver tinsel stage before a crowd of 5,000 spectators, some 40 feminists from the Women’s Liberation Workshop demonstrated in front of Albert Hall, denouncing that beauty contests were harmful to women. They pushed themselves among the incoming spectators, distributing leaflets that said the Miss World show meant “the economic, social and psychological devaluation of women” and that it benefited “no one except the big business”. Feminists ignored the contestants and sang: “Like the cattle waiting for the market. We will not be sold”. They carried banners that said: “Freedom for women” and “What price contraception”. Scotland Yard sent police reinforcements to make sure the protesters did not get out of control. Most of the spectators paid little attention to the demonstration. Another group was protesting South Africa’s participation in the contest due to the nation’s segregationist policies. There were no problems despite the threat received by the police that smoke bombs would be fired in the auditorium.


               After the coronation ceremony, the new Miss World was taken to a television studio where she was interviewed and subsequently attended the Coronation Ball in Café Royale where Morley handed the prize checks to the winner and the finalists. Miss South Africa and Miss Norway received the prizes corresponding to sixth and seventh place, with 50 and 25 pounds respectively.

                The next morning, after just three hours of sleep, the new Miss World received the press as usual and after chearing with champagne she confessed that she thought the winner would be Miss South Africa. After posing for the photographers, she went shopping and later visited the Mayor of London, Sir Ian Bowater, in the Mansion House as was tradition. In early December, she met Bob Hope in London to refine details of the USO Tour and traveled for a couple of days to Austria, from where she returned with her boyfriend. On December 9, she traveled to California, USA where she was staying at the Sheraton hotel in front of Universal Studios, vaccinated against typhoid and yellow fever and was named honorary member of the US Navy. On the 12th she met with Bob Hope and his wife Dolores in Los Angeles and on December 18 she traveled with Hope, singer Connie Stevens, actress Theresa Graves, astronaut Neil Armstrong and dancer Susan Charney to Washington DC, where they presented a show before the army and the President of the United States, Richard Nixon. After the show, she was invited to a private buffet with the President, who gave her a tour of the White House. On December 19, the group traveled to Berlin, Germany, aboard a US Navy plane, where they presented the show and then followed to Turkey and Saudi Arabia for the same purpose. They did a show aboard the USS Ranger aircraft carrier before continuing on to Thailand and Vietnam to cheer on American troops on an 18-day tour. The Christmas night of 1969 was spent in Thailand and every morning they flew by helicopter to the border with Vietnam. The King and Queen of Thailand entertained them with a banquet on December 27. On the 29th of that month the trip ended and on January 1, 1970, she was back in London, where Eva had problems arriving because she had no work permit and because her bags had military uniforms and caps. Lots of mail bags were waiting for her to be answered.

              In February, she traveled to the Dominican Republic invited by the government of that country and to be a judge of the Dominican Beauty Contest. On February 14, 1970 she received her first marriage proposal from a Dominican millionaire whom she had met just 8 hours earlier. Of course, she did not accept the proposal! There were also threats of kidnapping by leftist groups, but Eva was guarded with a bodyguard who did not leave her alone either day or night. After her trip to the Dominican Republic she returned to London, where she continued to receive flowers from her Dominican admirer, a total of 432 roses that she ended up donating to St.George’s hospital. In April she traveled to Africa and visited Kenya and Uganda, months later she toured Australia. She returned to London on October 31, 1970, just the day of her 21st birthday. During her year as Miss World she toured a total of 27 countries!


                Eva Von Rueber-Staier was born in Bruck An Der Mur, Styria, Austria, on October 31, 1949. She devoted herself to photographic modeling. In 1968 she was crowned Miss Austria. In July 1969 she attended the Miss Universe contest in Miami Beach where she was among the 15 semifinalists. She later went to London where she was crowned “Miss World 1969” on Thursday, November 27. She traveled with Bob Hope to Vietnam in December 1969 to entertain US troops during the USO Tour. In 1970 she attended the election of Miss World but did not crown her successor, however she danced in her farewell. She was a judge in Miss World 1972. Between 1970 and 1983 she was a film actress, highlighting in some small roles in James Bond films such as “Octopussy”, “For Your Eyes Only” and “The Spy Who Loved Me”.

              Eva married on Monday, January 1, 1973 in the famous London Caxtell Hall with the producer and British film director Ronald Fouracre, 38, who already had two children from a previous marriage, and they remained married until she was widowed on July 2, 1983. During all those years she continued her modeling career. In 1976 Eva Rueber-Staier organized “Junglies” dedicated to preserving the animals of the earth. “We have already organized an affiliation to the World Wide Fund for Nature, and we will attract the new generation with television cartoons, records, books and Junglies toys,” she said. “Our statistics show that children who take cuddly dolls of wild animals to bed rarely boast of killing real animals.” Then Eva played the Cadburys Flake girl in the 1980 Austrian skiing ad directed by Ridley Scott. In the 80s she dedicated herself to study art at the Harrow Arts Center in London. Later she remarried, this time with British publicist Brian Cowan, with whom she currently lives with her son Alexander (born 1984) in Pinner, a suburb of London.

                She is currently dedicated to producing metal, concrete and glass sculptures; some were exhibited at the Hertfordshire Visual Arts Forum in 2008 and the Harrod Arts Center in 2015. Today, after 50 years in England, she has become accustomed to living in it. She enjoys nature and taking care of her huge garden; She plays tennis and rides bicycles. She no longer travels to Austria so often: “While my father lived, I went to Bruck once or twice a year and also visited friends from before. But my father died two years ago, since then my visits have become even rarer”. However, she dreams of making an exhibition of her art in Austria. “If Brexit really arrives, I have to apply for a residence permit. My 36-year-old son, who travels a lot as a cameraman, may want to become an Austrian.” But she hopes that politics will continue to yield. She does not think of her time as Miss World too often and not sadly, as she continues to say: “It was nice, but everything in life has its moment.”

Eva Rueber-Staier with the Duke of Edinburgh in 1981


                * Miss USA, Gail Renshaw.- After returning from Miss World, she resigned to get married on January 8th, 1970. Connie Haggard, Miss Texas replaced her as Miss World USA. However, her marriage plan with American actor and singer Dean Martin, who was already married to another former beauty queen, Jeanne Biegger and who later divorced, never happened.

                 * Miss Venezuela, Marzia Piazza.- In 1970 she participated in Miss International in Japan, where she did not place. She graduated as a cosmetologist in London. She worked for many years in Venezuela as promotions manager, sales manager and sales director of Revlon. In the late 70s, she had a romantic relationship with a Mexican gentleman named Rodrigo González with whom she had two children, Carlos Rodrigo and Oriana González Piazza, both born in the eighties. She subsequently opened the “Body Paradise Spa” in the Lider Mall of Caracas. She married on January 12, 2001 with Atilio Bartolini, from whom she divorced in 2005. Her son married María Eugenia Rangel Escobar, daughter of the former Chavez’s Governor of the Bolivar State, General Francisco Rangel Gómez. Marzia currently lives in Mexico where she teaches sales, productivity, image and leadership.

                * Miss United Kingdom, Sheena Drummond.- She enjoyed six years as a successful model in Britain. She later married the hypnotist Ronald Harris, and the couple had two children. In the 90s Sheena worked full time for a charity, but modeled again part time.

                * Miss Philippines, Feliza Nuesa Miro.- After delivering her crown she devoted herself to acting and worked on a Filipino film in 1974. She married Renato J. Dupaya, whom she widowed. She later married Congressman Conrado “Jojo” B. Estrella Jr. with whom she had three children. She was elected Municipal Mayor of Villasis in the period between 1988 and 1992.

                * Miss Dominican Republic, Sandra Cabrera.- After Miss World she continued her modeling career and adopted the name “Xandra”. She worked with the Dominican Ministry of Tourism. She won in 1973 the contest “Miss Maja International” in Zaragoza, Spain. She modeled in New York for Oscar De La Renta and was involved in the realization of the Miss Universe 1977 in Santo Domingo. Then she dedicated herself to fashion design and opened a very exclusive store in the Dominican capital. Later she prepared some candidates for the Miss Dominican Republic contest.


Thanks to Donald West, Daryl Schabinger, Mario Jérez, Anthony Pisano, Orlando Ospina, Héctor Dupuy, Chilean Charm, Don Short, Norberto Colón and Retro Channel.


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