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Miss World 1976

By Julio Rodríguez Matute


                1976, the year in which the United States celebrated the bicentennial of the independence, was also the period of numerous large-scale seismic movements. A 7.5-magnitude Richter earthquake leaves almost a quarter of a million dead in Tangshan, China, making it the largest earthquake event in modern history; another of the same magnitude destroys Guatemala with more than 26 thousand deaths. Strong earthquakes also leave many victims in Mindanao, Philippines (8,000); Western Irian, Indonesia (6,000); Van, Turkey (5,000); Friuli, Italy (978) and Bali, Indonesia (573). A march of some 15,000 students against Apartheid in Soweto, South Africa, culminates in a massacre; 566 young men were gunned by the police. At Entebbe airport (Uganda), the Israel Defense Forces successfully carry out Operation Entebbe, in which the seven Palestinian and German terrorists who were holding 106 hostages (Israeli and Jewish passengers, in addition to the twelve members of the crew) who had been hijacked on an Air France plane after taking off from Athens. Three passengers and an Israeli command died in the release. A fourth female passenger who was in a hospital was later killed on orders from Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in revenge for the raid. Transkei, the first Bantustan created by the Apartheid system, becomes independent from South Africa, Seychelles from the United Kingdom, and the Central African Republic becomes an Empire. The Polisario Front declares the independence of Western Sahara under the name of “Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic”, Cambodia changes its name to “Democratic Republic of Kampuchea” and the socialist Vietnam announces the reunification of North Vietnam and South Vietnam. Jimmy Carter is elected President of the United States, the Venezuelan government nationalizes the oil industry while in Argentina, the coup d’etat by Jorge Rafael Videla overthrows Isabel Martínez de Perón and establishes a military regime until 1983, which would leave some 30,000 disappeared. Twelve IRA bombs explode in London’s West End and an explosive planted in a plane by anti-Castro activists, including ex-CIA agent Luis Posada Carriles, crashed a Cubana de Aviacion flight in Barbados. The tragedy of the Azores occurs, in which the University Choir of the Central University of Venezuela dies in a plane crash. The Concorde’s first commercial flight with the London-Bahrain and Paris-Rio de Janeiro routes is launched and the CN tower is inaugurated in Toronto (Canada), while the computer company Apple is created in the US. The North American spaceship Viking I arrives at the planet Mars and in Zaire the first cases of the Ebola virus are counted. The Summer Olympics are held in Montreal, Canada, and were boycotted by 26 countries, most of them African, in protest because New Zealand had not been vetoed after breaking a United Nations agreement, participating in sports games in South Africa. Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci rises to fame by scoring several 10 and winning three gold medals at these Olympics. Rina Messinger of Israel is crowned Miss Universe in Hong Kong (a few days after the rescue in Entebbe), the French Sophie Perin wins the title of Miss International in Japan and the British group “Brotherhood of Man” wins the Eurovision Song Contest in Holland , with the theme “Save Your Kisses For Me”. The Rocky and King Kong films are released in theaters and on American TV the series “Charlie’s Angels”, the “Muppet Show”, the “Bionic Woman”, “Laverne & Shirley” and the game show “Family Feud” were premiered. That year the Irish rock band U2 was born. The groups ABBA and Queen release their songs “Dancing Queen” and “Somebody to Love”, the latter by Freddie Mercury, while the song “Hotel California” by The Eagles becomes popular. In 1976, Venezuelan Jacqueline Aguilera (Miss World 1995) and Alicia Machado (Miss Universe 1996), Irish actor Colin Farrell, Venezuelan actress and model Gaby Espino, Mexican actresses Ninel Conde and Vanessa Guzmán (Nuestra Belleza México 1995) and Brazilian soccer player Ronaldo were born. The English writer Agatha Christie, the Chinese dictator Mao Zedong, the British actor Stanley Baker (who judged Miss World in 1965 and 1968), the Venezuelan poet and humorist Aquiles Nazoa and the ex-Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier died.


                On January 12, 1976, the British press announced the changes that the Miss World contest would have from that moment on. Future applicants would be accepted only if they were chosen in competitions held in the competitor’s country of birth. The new rule was introduced to prevent a repetition of what happened the previous year when Miss Cuba was chosen by Cuban exiles in the United States. Regarding this change, a contest spokesperson said, “Otherwise, we will have participants from every group of migrants in the world this year.” Another new rule was related to the country of birth or naturalization. Now, the rule took into account the nationality of both father and mother. Miss World contestants would no longer have to turn their backs on judges when they paraded in their bathing suits. That was among the rules that were altered after demonstrations done by four candidates the previous year, who refused to turn. In addition, the winner’s prize increase of £ 20,000 was also reported (5,000 in cash and 15,000 in employment during the year), while the prize for the first runner-up also increased from 1,500 pounds sterling to two thousand. Additionally, the new Miss World was going to have a new crown this year, created by jewelry designer Russell Stone at the request of Julia Morley and contained 1,259 diamonds. This was used in Miss World between 1976 and 1978 and later became the official crown of Miss United Kingdom.


                As a result of the changes in the rules of the contest, Cuba was no longer represented and the Cuban exiles lost the rights to the English beauty event and, in view of the indefinite suspension of the Miss Madagascar pageant, this country also lost the franchise of the contest . Despite this, Julia Morley maintained and obtained directors or “sponsors” in 81 countries and territories of the world, two more than the previous year. Guatemala and the US Virgin Islands officially debuted, while Chile and Tahiti returned to the contest. However, some directors reported that their beauty queens would not be present in London. Miss BOTSWANA (Ida Mpatane) would not be sent to protest the participation of two South African contestants, one white and the other colored, while the Barbadian organizers decided that Miss BARBADOS (Jewell Sharon Nightingale) would debut in Miss Universe and that she would no longer be sent to Miss World to save expenses, since the Miss Universe sent an air ticket. Miss SAINT LUCIA (Cynthia Elibox) would not participate for financial reasons either. Bolivia and Panama did not select any candidate for Miss World while in Haiti, Tunisia and Zambia no beauty pageants were held that year. The remaining 73 countries began to organize their national beauty pageants and among them we have the following:

                – Señorita Colombia.- On November 11, 1975, in Cartagena, the Colombian National Beauty Contest was held with 14 candidates, and the Bogota native María Helena Reyes was chosen, who, as was traditional, would go to Miss Universe the following year. The Vice-Queen, Miss Caldas (María Emilia García) was not sent to any international contest, while the First Princess (Alicia Sáenz of Bolívar) was designated to go to Miss International and the Second Princess (María Loretta Celedón from Cesar) was chosen for Miss World. The Top 5 was completed by Miss Atlántico, Martha Cecilia Pineda.

                – Miss France.- The brunette Monique Uldaric from the French island of Reunion, in the Indian Ocean, won the crown of “Miss France 1976” on December 27, 1975 at the Évry-Ville-Nouvelle theater of the Agora, among 54 candidates. The finalists were Patricia Lelong (Miss Côte d’Azur) and Moea Amiot (Miss Tahiti). Monique represented France in both the Miss Universe and the Miss World contests.

                – Miss Dominican Republic.- The National Beauty Contest was held on May 1 at the La Fuente Night Club at the Hotel Jaragua and Jenny Corporán was elected as the new Miss Dominican Republic (heading to Miss World). This year the Queens of Tourism and Merengue were not chosen, only finalists. They were Jacqueline Hernández and Cesarina Castillo, who later won the 1977 Miss Tourism of the Americas in Ecuador. 21 entrants competed.

                – Miss Holland.- Lucie Visser was crowned “Miss Holland 1976” on Friday May 14 at the Bouwes Hotel in Zandvoort, which gave her the right to go to Miss Universe in Hong Kong, but she refused and wanted to go only to the Miss Europe contest. After returning from Miss Europe where she was second runner-up, she decided she wanted to go to Miss Universe as well, but the organizers refused as they had promised to send Nanny Nielen (the first runner-up) to the contest. Lucy became angry and filed a complaint with the organizers who decided to dethrone Lucy and then, Nanny became Miss Holland 1976. Third was Stephanie Flatow, who had already been second runner-up in Miss Holland 1970 and third runner-up in Miss Europe of that same year. Stephanie would now have the honor of representing her country in Miss World. In fourth and fifth place were Barbara Ann Neefs (who had already gone to Miss World the previous year) and Willy Leedekerke. 21 candidates participated.

                – Señorita México.- It was held at the Camino Real Hotel in Mexico City, on Saturday, May 15. The pageant was won by Carla Jean Evert Reguera from the state of Guerrero, who went to Miss Universe. In second place was Emilia Estefanía Smith Ranero from Tamaulipas, who had to go to Miss World, but for unknown reasons she did not go and should have been replaced at the last moment by Carla. The remaining finalists were Raquel Velasco Gil from Baja California, Norma Araceli Solís Cuevas of Nayarit and Patricia Martínez Rivera from Coahuila.

                – Miss Venezuela.- The Paris Theater (today La Campiña Theater) was the venue for the “Miss Venezuela 1976” contest on Friday May 21, an event organized by Edwin Acosta-Rubio and his wife Dafne and which had 15 participants. The winner, Miss Guárico, Elluz Peraza, resigned after 36 hours to get married. Her successor, who was the young woman who had originally been the first runner-up, Miss Nueva Esparta, Judith Castillo, was crowned by Elluz in a special Venevision broadcast on Monday, May 24. Judith went to Hong Kong to Miss Universe and was one step away from being the first Venezuelan to obtain that beauty title. The remaining finalists were Miss Lara, María Genoveva Rivero (to Miss World), Miss Miranda, Betzabeth Ayala (to Miss International) and Miss Bolívar, Ana Flor Raucci (to Miss Young International). Due to the resignation of Elluz Peraza, Miss Mérida, Zoritza Ljubisavljevic, who went to Miss Tourism of Central America and the Caribbean, entered the Top 5.

               – Miss Honduras.- The “Ruben Callejas Valentine” Gym located in Barrio Abajo, in Tegucigalpa, was once again the stage for Miss Honduras, which, as was traditional, was held in June. The winner was Miss San Pedro Sula, Victoria Alejandra Pineda, who went to Miss Universe. The public’s great favorite, Miss Puerto Cortés, Carmen Leticia Figueroa, had to settle for being the first runner-up. The remaining finalists were Miss Valle de los Ángeles, Victoria Ann Baker; Miss La Ceiba, Miriam Yolanda Paz and Miss Bay Islands, Marlen Sikaffi Mena. When the results were known, Marlen angrily protested the director Norma de Funes on the stage as she was convinced that the election had been a fraud. Amid the scandalous protest by the candidates and their families, the mob threatened to lynch the jury, the new queen, the national director and all those who applauded the result. The police and the army had to intervene to prevent the situation from escalating. Carmen Leticia had the right to go to Miss World but was prevented by the social editor Rocío Ríos Suaste from the disappeared newspaper LA NOTICIA, who threatened Mrs. Norma de Funes who would get revenge if she sent Leticia to the contest. Rocío, who was submerged in the addiction of alcohol and had extramarital affairs with the actor Lidio Reyes, said that her husband had divorced her to marry Leticia. But Leticia married soon after with her only boyfriend, Enrique Morales Alegría, with whom to this day she remains united in marriage. Norma de Funes had no choice but to send one of the semifinalists, Maribel Ayala, to Miss World, as the other finalists refused, claiming that the event had been fraudulent.

Carmen Leticia Figueroa and her husband at their son’s wedding

                – Miss Peru.- Benjamin Kreimer became National Director of Miss Universe and Miss World in Peru and decided to use “direct appointment” as the only option to have a candidate who went to both Miss Universe and Miss World due to the political and social instability that was lived at that time in Peru. To achieve this goal, Kreimer asked the magazine “Gente” to help him select the new Miss Peru in June. She was Rocío Lazcano, an 18-year-old from Lima.

                – Miss Commonwealth Bahamas.- It was held on Sunday August 15 in the Crown Ballroom of the Paradise Island hotel among 8 participants. The winner was Zoie Miller, 17, while the finalists were Terry Fisher, Donna Reckley and Lois Smith.

                – Miss World-USA.- The Hynes Auditorium in the city of Boston (Massachusetts) was the venue for the “Miss World-USA 1976” contest on Saturday, August 28, an event that had 47 contestants. The winner was Miss Michigan, Kimberly Marre Foley, a slim, 5 feet 10.5 inches tall competitor. The finalists were Miss Pennsylvania, Juanita Yvonne McCarty; Miss Virginia, Carolyn Jeanine Curtis; Miss Florida, Nanci E. Hirtreiter and Miss Arizona, Cynthia Mathewson. Maine candidate, Brenda Bacon, was disqualified for exceeding the age limit.

                – Miss United Kingdom.- It was held in Blackpool on Friday September 3 with 35 applicants. Carol Grant of Scotland, who had previously been third runner-up in Miss Universe, was chosen to represent the country in Miss World. The finalists were Sian Adey-Jones (from Wales and second runner-up in Miss Universe 1976) and Joanna Booth (from Sheffield). Joanna had been Miss Britain 1974 and first runner-up for Miss International that same year. She subsequently changed her name to Joanna Longley and as such represented England in Miss Europe and Miss Universe 1981.

                – Miss Spain.- The winner of “Miss Spain 1976” was Miss Tenerife, Luz María Polegre Hernández, during a gala held on Sunday September 5 in Cala Galdana, on the Island of Menorca. The Tenerife woman represented her country in Miss World and later in Miss Universe. Pilar Medina Canadell, Miss Centro, took the sash of “Miss National” and was crowned Miss International in 1977. The First Princess was Miss Costa del Sol, Angela Maria Navarro Ruano who was a semifinalist in Miss Young International 1977.

                – Our Ambassadress to the World.- The Miss Singapore World pageant changed its name. This year it was called “Our Ambasadress to the World” and was held on Friday, September 17. The contest was won by Pauline Chong among 12 candidates. The finalists were Helen Ng (to Miss Asia) and Theresa Leu (to Miss International).

                – Quest of Quests.- Karen Jo Pini from Western Australia was crowned “Australia’s Golden Dream Girl” and “Miss World Australia” on Wednesday, September 22 in the “Quest of Quests” contest held this time at the Evandale Center on the Gold Coast. Jill Minahan was chosen Miss Universe Australia, Sue-Anne Wilkinson was crowned Miss Asia Australia, Pamela Cail was selected as Miss International Australia and Deborah Steele as Miss Young Australia. 15 girls participated.

                – Miss Argentina.- On Sunday, October 3, the final of the contest to choose the Argentine representative for Miss World was held. With 20 finalists, the event was broadcast from the halls on the 10th floor of the Automóvil Club Argentino. The competition was hosted by Juan Alberto Mateyko and Mrs. Nelly Raymond, director of the Miss World organization for Argentina, Chile and Paraguay. The winner of the contest was Adriana Laura Salgueiro, a beautiful 19-year-old model, 5 feet 9 inches tall and measurements 35-24-36. With brown hair and beautiful blue eyes, Adriana conquered the judges for her personality, friendliness and knowledge of English, French, and handling of the catwalk. Adriana already had the title of Miss Television 1975 and in March 1976 she became a Miss Seven Days semifinalist. The other finalists of Miss Argentina for Miss World were Liliana Margarita Gilly, Mirta Isabel Schuster, Graciela Cawerc and Patricia San Martino.

                – In Cyprus, Sweden and Jamaica there was no contest this year. On the Caribbean island, they handpicked Cindy Breakspeare while the Cypriots sent their 1974 queen, Andri Tsangaridou, and photographer Gunnar Larssen selected the Swedish Anki Gernandt who worked as a model in Paris. The Finns sent Merja Helena Tammi, who originally had to go the year before but was unable when she won Miss Young International. The rights of the Miss World in India changed hands and were taken by the “Femina Miss India” contest whose winner, Naina Balsaver, was sent to both the Miss Universe and the Miss World contests. On the other side, Miss Korea, Byoung-Sook Shin, was about to be disqualified because she resided in Los Angeles, California because she studied there, but was saved because she participated in the Miss Korea pageant held in Seoul representing the diaspora. The brand new official Miss Italy, Paola Bresciano, claimed her right to participate in Miss World, but the Morleys ignored her, because the rights of Miss World in that country belonged to a Milan modeling agency. The newly created independent Bantustan of Transkei organized their national contest in mid-September and intended to send the first Miss TRANSKEI (Mandi Anathi Gulwa), a 22-year-old teacher, to London, as announced by the media. The African beauty was supposed to leave for Miss World in late October when the new country had already been granted independence. But Julia Morley denied that possibility because the United Kingdom did not recognize this country created by the South African segregationist regime. “I feel sorry for the girl, she has obviously been exploited,” added Mrs. Morley.

                Going back to the months prior to the concentration of beauties in the British capital, the English press announced that the Miss World 1975 contest had obtained an approximate of 23.6 million viewers in the United Kingdom, being one of the most watched programs, but surpassed by the final of the European Football Cup, which reached 24.3 million. In February, the former Miss World 1974, Helen Morgan, had started filming a movie in the Philippines, making her debut as a film actress, while the Puerto Rican Wilnelia Merced, 1975’s titleholder, had told the media she planned to marry an Englishman. Her words were prophetic, since less than seven years later she married Bruce Forsyth. Wilnelia took intensive English courses in both London and her native Puerto Rico and returned to the British capital on Sunday, October 24. Topless photos of South African Anneline Kriel, Miss World 1974, captured while vacationing with her boyfriend on a beach, were published around the same time, greatly upsetting the former beauty queen. Meanwhile, Miss World 1969, the Austrian Eva Rueber-Staier, who was living in London and who was dedicated to the conservation of animal life, organized in September a safari lunch for 50 children at the Britannia hotel to benefit of the charity. On the other hand, DAILY MIRROR journalist Don Short published a book dedicated to the contest and which went on sale on October 14 called “Miss World the Naked Truth”.


                The 26th edition of Miss World was held from 9 to 19 November in London. But, as it was already traditional, the participants began to arrive much earlier to acclimatize, rest and get to know a little more about the British capital. The first candidates to arrive were Miss Brazil and Miss Germany, who arrived in London on October 31. Later, on November 6, several contestants arrived, including Miss Trinidad-Tobago and Miss Australia. A group of eleven beauties posed for photographers outside the Britannia Hotel in Grosvenor Square on Sunday, November 7. They were Miss Swaziland, Miss Argentina, Miss Australia, Miss Bermuda, Miss Brazil, Miss Colombia, Miss Denmark, Miss Guatemala, Miss Honduras, Miss Iceland and Miss Korea. On Monday the 8th, most of the beauty queens arrived, including Miss United States and Miss Canada. Miss Australia and Jeff Phillips lived nearby in Perth, but they never met until Sunday when Jeff, now in London, called the Miss World contestant to wish her luck. Jeff Phillips, 24, known in Australia as a singer and songwriter, was in London to release his new album. Mrs. Giorgia Richards, 48, the oldest of all chaperones and who had worked for the organization for the past three years, said the second floor of the Britannia Hotel, where the contestants were staying, looked like a “mini United Nations.” She reiterated the strict security measures, which included the interception of phone calls; CCTV cameras that monitored the stairs and emergency exits and, in addition, the hotel elevator did not stop on the second floor for the rest of the guests. This floor was exclusively for the contestants and chaperones. Security officers stationed at the elevator door did not allow access to anyone without a special pass.

                After a promising start involving cosmic issues like race, politics and the United Nations, the 1976 Miss World competition was once again beginning its usual banality. The disqualification of Miss Transkei before stepping onto British soil (Transkei, Mecca noted, is not internationally recognized), did not provoke much sympathy from the other contestants. One of them thought that Transkei was a boutique in Chelsea. So, unless Miss Virgin Islands injured a ligament or Miss Iceland mentions cod (UK and Iceland had a war against cod fishing for those days), it seemed easy to navigate to the coronation on Thursday the 18th. That, Mecca watchers have not relaxed their grip on the girls, who were encouraged to speak only about makeup and how much they liked London. A phalanx of chaperones were ready to protect their girls from the trick of questions like Do you think Mrs. Thatcher could have become Miss World? Another army of officials (men and largely Mecca-owned bingo hall managers) were acting to stop gorillas seeking to desecrate the peace of beauty queens. On the other hand, the Ladbrokes agency began betting on the candidates with 8-1 odds for Miss United Kingdom and Miss Australia.

                The first official activity of the contest was held on Tuesday, November 9, when the contestants made the customary tourist tour of the British capital, visiting the same places where they took them year after year. The beauties got to know Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, the Cathedral of Saint Paul and saw the famous Big Ben, which incidentally, had stopped working months before. One of the directors who accompanied one of the candidates asked: Do we have to do the same thing every year?. That same night, the welcome dinner was held, courtesy of the Belgian airline SABENA, and where the 66 young women who had arrived up to that moment attended. On Wednesday the 10th, the contestants were taken to see the Hampton Court. That same day, the SANROC (The South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee) asked the organizers to ban the participation of two South African contestants, one white and the other black, arguing that the double participation was racist. SANROC had noted that the practice of having two participants from one country was limited to South Africa and that ideally only one candidate from that country would participate. This was suggested to Mrs. Julia Morley, organizer of the competition. But, Ms. Morley said that while she knew the practice was wrong, “we also want only one girl,” their participation could not be changed this year. However, next year things would be different. “Our sponsor in South Africa agreed to host the first multi-racial contest. He has been told that if he cannot do it, then no South African candidate will be allowed to compete.” Given Morley’s refusal to withdraw the South Africans, SANROC threatened to have some 45 nations boycott the Miss World pageant, just as they had already done at the Montreal Olympics. The leaders said that they would send letters to the Embassies of the different countries in London requesting the withdrawal of their participants. That night Miss Lebanon arrived.

                On Thursday the 11th of November the participants enjoyed a cruise along the River Thames and, on Friday the 12th, the lunch of the Variety Club of Great Britain was held at the Dorchester Hotel. It was attended by 67 competitors wearing, as was traditional, their beautiful national costumes, among which those of Miss Peru, Miss Colombia and Miss Tahiti stood out for their large and colorful headdresses. The event was not attended by Miss Mexico, who arrived that night in London. Similarly, the young women brought their national gifts that would be auctioned to benefit the Variety Club’s charitable causes. Sadly, the actor Stanley Baker was not present, who year after year attended the event and collaborated in the collection of gifts and the auction of them, since he died that year in June, affected by cancer and pneumonia. At the auction, a box of chocolates brought by one of the participants was sold for £ 400 and a cake for £ 300. Since 1962, the Variety Club had raised some £ 11,000,000 from the gift auctions. In the evening, beauties from around the world attended a theater performance. On the morning of Saturday the 13th, the candidates went shopping, witnessed the Mayor on duty’s procession through the streets of London and in the afternoon they received the visit of a group of children at the Britannia hotel for the now traditional Tea Party with the children. The organizers eliminated four candidates from the list of 73 contestants, who announced at the last minute that they would not compete in the contest: Miss NICARAGUA (Ivania Navarro Genie), Miss GUERNSEY (Irene Matthews), Miss ISLE OF MAN (Sandra Moughton) and Miss INDONESIA (Yuliarti Rahayuningsih). The latter country would have debuted in the contest and the candidate, who had already attended the Miss Universe pagent that same year, had declared that she would attend Miss World on a recent trip she made to Singapore, however, for unknown reasons, she did not arrive in London. Therefore, a total of 69 participants would take part in the contest.


                “Miss Venezuela is missing,” organizers of Miss World said early Sunday, November 14. Where is she?. “As far as we know, she arrived on a flight from Caracas on last Saturday, but the cable with the information of her flight came three hours after her flight had arrived and by the time we arrived at the airport, she had already left”, said a contest spokesperson. But where did she go? That is what no one knows. “We have tried everything to find her but nobody has any information.” “She has friends here and also has our address. It is very likely that she has gone to stay at a friend’s house. Unfortunately, her director does not have names or addresses of her possible friends, so we can only wait,” he added. The Mecca official also said that Miss Venezuela must appear no later than Monday to participate in rehearsals and to remain in the contest. “She probably appears. We certainly hope she does.” “Obviously we are very concerned although not for her safety. We are not 100% sure that she is in the country, but we have done everything possible to find her.”

               Another Mecca officer said he had asked Scotland Yard to help find María Genoveva Rivero Giménez, who disappeared somewhere between Spain and London. Contest officials said Miss Rivero Giménez was supposed to check into a London Hotel last week after a short vacation in Spain, but that no one had seen her. Officials theorize that she could be in a hotel room waiting for a call from them. They said that a contestant from the previous year had spent two weeks in her room waiting for that call. Miss Rivero Giménez, if she appears on time, would be the tallest contestant in this edition of Miss World with her 5 feet 11 inches.


                On Sunday, November 14, the Press Presentation was held at the Empire Ballroom in Leicester Square. The event was attended by all the contestants, with the exception of Miss Venezuela who was still missing. But earlier that day, two of the beauties received notification from the governments of their countries urging them to withdraw due to the issue of the participation of two South African women. They were representatives of African countries: Miss Swaziland and Miss Mauritius, who had no choice but to obey and withdraw on the verge of tears, a situation that the organizers marked as a reflection of blind prejudice. “It is unfortunate but I must obey what the authorities of my country say,” said Miss Swaziland in distress. “But I wish Miss Africa South and Miss South Africa the best of luck,” added the ebony girl. While Miss Mauritius declared, “I love my country and that’s why I follow its rules. I figured this kind of thing could happen”. SANROC had achieved the first two defections !!. “I am deeply saddened,” said Julia Morley, who was struggling to keep the contest out of racial politics. She said that both countries had decided that their representatives would not participate until South Africa was represented by a single candidate who had been chosen in a multiracial way. A spokesman for Mecca said that the withdrawal of both contestants had been required by letters sent by the Embassies of their countries in London. Despite this, both girls also attended the Empire Ballroom but did not appear in swimsuits along with their other 66 fellow contestants. Here is the official list of the 69 competitors in the Miss World 1976:

01-AFRICA SOUTH Veronica Rozette Kuki Matsepe 21 Pretoria Student of Social Sciences and Model
02-ARGENTINA Adriana Laura Salgueiro 19 Buenos Aires Model
03-ARUBA Maureen Wever 20 Oranjestad Immigration officer
04-AUSTRALIA Karen Jo Pini 19 Perth Dressmaker
05-AUSTRIA Monika Muhlbauer 17 Hains Felden Student
06-BAHAMAS Mazorian “Zoie” Larona Miller 19 Nassau Student of Child Psychology
07-BELGIUM Yvette Maria Aelbrecht 18 Brussels Student of Languages and Secretary
08-BERMUDA Vivienne Anne Hollis 19 Smith´s Parish Hotel Receptionist and Model
09-BRAZIL Adelaide Fraga de Oliveira Filha 18 Lago-Brasilia Student of Law
10-CANADA Pamela Mercer 20 Burnaby BC Education student
11-CHILE María Cristina Granzow Cartagena 18 Santiago Dentistry student
12-COLOMBIA María Loretta Celedón Holguin 19 Valledupar Student
13-COSTA RICA Ligia María Ramos Quesada 23 San José Architect
14-CURACAO Viveca Francisca Marchena 18 Willemstad Secretary student
15-CYPRUS Andri Tsangaridou 20 Famagusta Physical Education Student and Model
16-DENMARK Susanne Juul Hansen 18 Orum Model
17-DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Jennyfer del Carmen “Jenny” Corporán Viñas 17 Santo Domingo Student of Architecture
18-ECUADOR Marie Clare Fontaine Velasco 20 Guayaquil Student of Architecture
19-EL SALVADOR Soraya Comandari Zanotti 17 San Salvador Psychology student
20-FINLAND Merja Helena Tammi 21 Helsinki Marketing student and Model
21-FRANCE Monique Uldaric 22 St.Pierre-Reunion Model and Hostess
22-GERMANY Monika Schneeweiss 21 Frankfurt Law student
23-GIBRALTAR Rosemarie Parody 19 Laguna Estate Shop Assistant
24-GREECE Rania Theofilou 20 Athens Model
25-GUAM Diane Marie Roberts Duenas 17 Tamuning High School student
26-GUATEMALA Marta Elisa Tirado Richardson 21 Guatemala City Stewardess
27-HOLLAND Stephanie Flatow 23 Rotterdam Staff Secretary
28-HONDURAS Maribel Ileana Ayala Ramírez 18 San Pedro Sula Estudiante de Administración
29-HONG KONG Christine Leung Ching-Man 22 Kowloon Stewardess
30-ICELAND Sigridur Helga Olgeirsdóttir 19 Reykjavik Bank Cashier
31-INDIA Naina Sudhir Balsaver 18 Bombay Business Administration student
32-IRELAND Jakki Ann Moore 17 Ardilea Archeology student
33-ISRAEL Levana Abarbanel 17 Tel-Aviv Agriculture student
34-ITALIA Antonella Lombrosi 17 Milano Model and Student of Fashion
35-JAMAICA Cynthia “Cindy” Jean Cameron Breakspeare 22 Kingston Spa operator
36-JAPAN Noriko Asakuno 19 Tokio Clerk at the Japan Bunka Congress
37-JERSEY Susan Hughes 21 St.Helier Ground stewardess
38-KOREA Byoung-Sook Shin 19 Los Angeles Student
39-LEBANON Souad Nakhoul 21 Şaḩrat al Qashsh Business Administration student
40-LIBERIA Laurine Wede Johnson 19 Monrovia Bank clerk
41-LUXEMBOURG Monique Wilmes 19 Echternach Secretary
42-MALAYSIA Che Puteh Naziadin 21 Terengganu Accountant
43-MALTA Jane Benedicta Saliba 18 Zurrieq Dressmaker and Model
44-MAURITIUS Anne-Lise Lesur 19 Port Louis Secretary student
45-MEXICO Carla Jean Evert Reguera 19 Acapulco Interpreter and works in PR
46-NEW ZEALAND Anne Clifford 22 Christchurch Law student
47-NORWAY Nina Kristine Ronneberg 21 Oslo Art student
48-PARAGUAY María Cristina Fernández Samaniego 21   Student
49-PERU Rocío Rita Lazcano Rumiano 21 Lima Business Administration student
50-PHILIPPINES Josephine “Joy” Salazar Conde 22 Luzon Model, bank clerk and works in PR
51-PUERTO RICO Ivette Rosado 19 Bayamon Student and Model Instructor
52-SEYCHELLES Lynn Elisca Gobine 20 Mahe Bank clerk
53-SINGAPORE Pauline Poh Neo Cheong 18 Kallang Typist
54-SOUTH AFRICA Lynn Massyn 18 Natal Textil Designer
55-SPAIN Luz María Polegre Hernández 18 La Laguna-Tenerife Pharmacy student
56-SRI LANKA Tamara Ingrid Subramanian 17 Colombo High School student
57-SWAZILAND Zanella Tutu Tshabalala 19 Mbabane Model
58-SWEDEN Ann-Christin “Anki” Gernandt 19 Stockholm Model
59-SWITZERLAND Ruth Crottet 21 Lucerne Dental Assistant and Model
60-TAHITI Patricia Mareva Servonnat 18 Papeete Student
61-THAILAND Duangcheewan Gomonsean 20 Bangkok Model and Dancer
62-TRINIDAD – TOBAGO Patricia Anderson Leon 21 San Fernando Secretary
63-TURKEY Jale Bayhan 20 Ankara Pharmacy student
64-UNITED KINGDOM Carol Jean Grant 19 Yoker-Glasgow Model
65-UNITED STATES Kimberly Marre Foley 21 Southfield-Michigan Photographic Model
66-URUGUAY Sara Alaga Valega 19 Salto Law student
67-VENEZUELA María Genoveva Rivero Giménez 19 Barquisimeto Student
68- VIRGIN ISLANDS (US) Denise LaFranque 19 St.Croix Secretary
69-YUGOSLAVIA Slavica Stefanovic 19 Belgrade Student of Economics

               In addition to Miss Finland who had been Miss Young International 1975, other of her contest partners already had experience in other beauty pageants. Participants from Belgium, Bermuda, France, India, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Peru and the United Kingdom had competed in Miss Universe months earlier in Hong Kong. Of these, only the British, representing Scotland, managed to qualify and became the third runner-up. The representatives of Cyprus and Lebanon, respectively, had participated in Miss Universe of 1974 and 1975. The girls from Belgium, Cyprus, France and Luxembourg participated in Miss Europe of 1976. Miss Norway had competed in another version of Miss Europe of that year and Miss Holland had been 3rd. runner-up in Miss Europe of 1970. Miss Greece and Miss Tahiti competed in Miss International 1976; Miss Mexico in the 1976 Miss Young International and Miss Ecuador and Miss Honduras at Miss Maja International of that same year, the Ecuadorian had been the first runner-up. Miss Uruguay had participated in Miss Ambar 1975 and Miss Costa Rica in 1976, where she made the semifinalists. Among the statistics it was known that the tallest candidate was Miss Venezuela (5 f 11) and the shortest, Miss Virgin Islands (5 f 2). The ladies from the Bahamas, Chile, Costa Rica, Swaziland and Tahiti were the girls with the smallest bust (32) and the most voluptuous, Miss Honduras (38). A journalist asked Miss Trinidad and Tobago who she thought would win. “None of them deserve it,” she said. “They have no idea of ​​deportment and balance. I am quite surprised,” said the Trinidadian beauty.

               After the presentation, favorites emerged again, which were grouped to be photographed by the different media. However, one of the candidates, Miss Jamaica, was brought back to the hotel as she was afflicted with a bad cold, so her betting odds remained 50-1. The most voted in the Ladbrokes Agency were Miss Finland with 5-1, and Miss United Kingdom, Miss Australia and Miss United States with 8-1. They were followed by Miss Belgium, who had improved her expectations from 14-1 to 10-1. A little further back were Miss Denmark, Miss Germany and Miss Israel with 12-1 odds. While Joe Coral had Miss Australia in first place with 7-1, followed by Miss United Kingdom and Miss USA with 8-1 and Miss Finland and Miss Denmark with 10-1. That Sunday night, Miss Venezuela finally appeared, who saw in the newscast the images of the participants during the media presentation and who asked the organizers to help her retrieve her “traveler’s checks” that she had lost along with the contest documents. That same night, the participants attended a Christmas dinner and party that was held at the Britannia Hotel.



                On Monday, November 15, the candidates attended the House of Commons where they had the customary lunch with the parliamentarians and, in the afternoon, they attended the first rehearsal at the Royal Albert Hall. That afternoon a third entrant from another African country withdrew: Miss Liberia. A spokesman for the Liberian Embassy said that they had received orders from the country’s Foreign Ministry asking Miss Liberia to withdraw from the pageant. Meanwhile, Julia Morley said they had no idea why she was gone. “She just packed her things and left,” said Mrs Morley. Tuesday the 16th was dedicated exclusively to rehearsals and on that day it emerged that Miss India had also been ordered to withdraw. A spokesman for the High Commissioner for India in London, G.V. Shukla said that Miss India had been ordered to withdraw because the country wanted to disassociate itself from an event that sanctioned South Africa’s policies of racial segregation. Initially, Miss India objected to her authorities’ decision and continued to rehearse, but Mr. Shukla intervened and insisted that she had been instructed to withdraw and that she must comply with the orders. “We cannot partner with an organization that allows South African participation,” he said. All this happened less than 24 hours after SANROC had sent a telegram to the Prime Minister of India with the request to support the boycott of the Miss World pageant. There were also rumors that Miss Malaysia was among the ten other potential countries that had requested the withdrawal of their candidates, as said by SANROC Secretary Chris De Broglio, but Julia Morley initially denied this. “Miss Malaysia definitely stays in the pageant,” she said, upset. De Broglio said that India, Jamaica, Mexico, the Philippines, Malaysia, Seychelles, the Bahamas, Yugoslavia, Sri Lanka and Trinidad-Tobago were the countries contemplating the withdrawal of their candidates. Mrs. Morley said the contest continued on Thursday night even though those ten countries withdrew. A Mecca spokesperson said shortly after that Miss India would remain in London but was out of the contest.

                On Wednesday, November 17, the BBC dress rehearsal and pre-recording were performed in national costumes, as well as hairdressing services for the contestants. In the final bets, Mecca had Miss Australia as the winner with 7-1, while Joe Coral and Ladbrokes had Miss United in first place with 6-1 and 8-1 respectively, but the contestant who had the most bets in the final stretch was Miss Guam, who dropped from 20-1 to 16-1 in the last hours. Bookmaker William Hill favored Miss USA with 7-1, followed by Miss United Kingdom and Miss Australia with 8-1, Miss Finland with 10-1 and Miss Germany, Miss Israel and Miss Sri Lanka with 12-1. DAILY MIRROR newspaper’s favorites were Miss Finland, Miss Australia, Miss Uruguay, Miss Jamaica and Miss United Kingdom, in that order.

                But earlier that day, other participants had to withdraw from the contest on higher orders. They were Miss Sri Lanka and Miss Seychelles. Hours later Miss Malaysia also withdrew. She said she was in shock and was completely disappointed to have to drop out of the event, that as a good Malaysian citizen she would abide by the order but would attend the contest as a spectator. Her national director, Paul Lee, said that he reluctantly had to accept the decision of the government of his country but considered that the withdrawal of his candidate was a “tragedy” and stated that politics should not be used to disrupt a contest that was being held for charity benefit.

                “I would like to see a government stand up and say, ‘it is enough. They’ve already had their pound of meat’, aren’t they satisfied?”, Julia Morley shouted against Chris De Broglio of SANROC, who she accused of being a “hypocrite suffering from blind prejudice” and said that he had organized the protests for “his own rotten and stinking publicity.” “If you want to know how many more candidates are going to resign, ask De Broglio,” Morley said furiously to reporters. “I’m sorry to sound bitter but I feel absolutely disgusted at what this man is doing”. Of the withdrawals, Morley said she regretted that individuals had to be exploited for political ends. Julia Morley complained that the contest had been plagued by collective hysteria and that this was a danger to all. Also She compared it to an infectious disease (like what we are currently experiencing with the coronavirus). “And with a contagious disease who knows what will happen. I don’t know how far this will go and how it will affect the contest”, Morley said. “I don’t agree with apartheid, but these activists should have more respect for the freedom of individuals”. “The show will continue as planned because we can not allow SANROC’s dictatorial attitudes to get away with it”, she concluded. Some directors said they believed South Africa should withdraw their two girls.

                The 62 remaining competitors in the contest participated in the dress rehearsal. In this rehearsal, Miss Africa South was awarded as Miss Personality and Miss Ireland as Miss Photogenic. Finally, Miss Jamaica was crowned Miss World at the rehearsal. What some could believe was something of a bad omen, was definitely lucky for the beautiful Jamaican !!. After the rehearsal, the candidates recorded the introduction in their national costumes that would be broadcast in the final and the serenade that the French singer Sasha Distel gave to all of them. To the terror of Eric and Julia Morley, two more candidates had chosen to withdraw that night at the request of the government of their countries: Miss Philippines and Miss Yugoslavia. In fact, Miss Philippines was ordered to drop out minutes before the filming of national costumes began. The Philippine representative wept, kicked and objected to the order saying “I will go on stage.” Then, calmer, she tried to contact Imelda Marcos, the First Lady of the Philippines and who was visiting London at the time, to help her stay in the contest, but the decision of the Philippine government was made and there was no return behind. Miss Yugoslavia withdrew after completing the BBC pre-recording. However, both candidates would appear in the national costume video that would be shown at the beginning of the broadcast. A BBC spokesperson said it was impossible to edit those images at the last minute because the sequence had been made with background music. “In any case, others could be removed before the show and we would be editing until the broadcast. We prefer to tell viewers what has happened,” said the BBC spokesman. And indeed, there were threats that five other candidates could withdraw before the event began.

Miss Ireland (Miss Photogenic)

                Julia Morley was on the verge of tears. “Why don’t they leave us alone? All the girls who have been forced to withdraw have done so crying and have decided to stay to witness the event as a way of protesting.” “I have great faith in the girls. I don’t think any of them is trying to ruin the contest”. “Anything could happen on the night of the final, we no longer know what to expect. SANROC has achieved its publicity. Now it seems that they are trying to destroy us”, she concluded. SANROC had asked all third world countries to withdraw their contestants. On the other hand, the Dutchman Johan de Mol, who he said was the boyfriend of one of the participants, asked to speak to Julia Morley on behalf of another anti-apartheid group. He said that if Morley did not agree to meet him, five other candidates would withdraw, including one of the big favorites, Miss Finland. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Mecca said they could demand that the girls planning to withdraw at the last minute should pay their stay at the hotel at the rate of £ 18 per night. Incidentally, the bets in Mecca had ended with Miss Jamaica and Miss Australia leading with 7-1, Miss Finland with 8-1, Miss United Kingdom with 9-1 and Miss USA with 10-1.


               On the other hand, and while some were withdrawing from the contest, another girl tried to enter. That Wednesday, the blonde Miss RHODESIA (Jane Bird), 22, arrived in London with the desire to participate in Miss World, she told reporters when she arrived at Heathrow, where she had traveled from Salisbury. Rhodesia has not participated since 1965 because it does not have a recognized government. A spokesman for Mecca said that “its government is not recognized by the United Kingdom and it has been subject to sanctions”. Miss Rhodesia spoke to the press that afternoon about how politics had frustrated her ambition to enter the beauty pageant. Jane, a 5 feet 8 inches tall blonde with blue eyes and a figure of 34-24-36, said: “I am so sad that politics ruined the contest.” “I am not political, but I am 100 percent hundred behind the Smith government”. The organizers of Miss World had previously said that they did not accept participants from Rhodesia for political reasons”. She is very silly and knows that she cannot participate”, said Julia Morley. Also, the Rhodesian had arrived too late, which would automatically disqualify her. But Jane, who was carrying an Irish passport (her grandfather was), admitted: “I guess I always knew I couldn’t compete. All I wanted was to be a wonderful diplomat for my country and represent it in the best way possible. “With Jane was the organizer of the Miss Rhodesia pageant, Maria Plant”. We still hope to enter the competition, or at least go see it. But whatever happens, we will try next year and the following year to enter one of our girls”. Jane won the Miss Rhodesia multiracial competition just a week ago. An African girl won second place.






                 Thursday, November 18, the day of the Miss World Grand Finals, began with the interview of the 60 misses with the judges in dressing rooms, so that they could get to know them a little better and be able to vote more accurately that night. Another candidate who had allegedly been ordered to withdraw on the day of the election was Miss Trinidad-Tobago, because her government had ordered her ambassador in London to boycott the contest. However, she had ignored it and that did not stop her from competing. Hours later, her loyalty was rewarded as she achieved a place among the semifinalists !!. Julia Morley feared that a large protest could have been planned for the finals. “There is a possibility that some countries may choose to make a sensational mass withdrawal when the television show is airing”. She said that up to 25 more countries could withdraw their candidates at the last minute.

                Despite the fear and stress of this whole situation, the contest continued as planned. At 7:55 p.m. the opening of the contest began with Phil Tate and the Miss World orchestra to delight the thousands of spectators who crowded the Royal Albert Hall that night. The overture was followed by the intonation of the British National Anthem. Eric Morley then gave his customary words of welcome and thanks and put the event into the hands of the comperes of the evening, Ray Moore and Patrick Lichfield. They were in charge of introducing the 60 candidates in their first parade of the night, in evening dresses and then, in bathing suits, in alphabetical order. At the end of the presentation in swimsuits, the 60 beauties returned to the stage to pose in groups of 6 in front of the judges, without turning their backs as in previous years, while the jury compared them and issued the verdict of who would be the 15 semifinalists. While Eric Morley tabulated the votes, Phil Tate and his orchestra entertained the intermission. At 9:25 p.m. the BBC-1 broadcast began with the pre-recorded images from the night before, showing all the contestants in their national costumes and the song “I Thought About You” that French singer Sasha Distel performed for them accompanied by the voices of the Mike Sammes Singers. The live broadcast began when Ray Moore entered the stage to introduce the judges, which for the first time would be made up of twelve people, including the current Miss World, members of the public and a national director. Eric Morley would be again the Chairman of the Judges but this time, according to him, without the right to vote. They were:

01- The British ceramic painter Michael Knotts.

02- The Greek singer Demis Roussos.

03- Austrian-german actor Curd Jürgens.

04- Wilnelia Merced, Miss World 1975.

05- Eric Morley, President of Mecca and Chaiman of the Judges.

06- American actress Barbara Bain.

07- British car racer James Hunt.

08- The British Pentathlon gold medalist Mary Peters.

09- Japanese fashion designer Yuki Torimaru.

10- Fred Demmond (member of the public).

11- Doreen Miller (member of the public).

12- Wentworth Christopher (National Director of Bermuda).


                After meeting the judges, Ray Moore proceeded to present the 15 semi-finalists in their evening gowns, while Patrick Lichfield commented on them. The 15 lucky ones were: Miss ARGENTINA (Adriana Laura Salgueiro, 19 years old and 5 feet 9 inches tall, from Buenos Aires); Miss AUSTRALIA (Karen Jo Pini, 19, 5 feet 6 inches tall, from Perth); Miss FINLAND (Merja Helena Tammi, 21 years old and 5 feet 8 inches tall, from Helsinki); Miss GUAM (Diane Marie Roberts Duenas, 17 years and 5 feet 7 inches tall, from Tamuning); Miss HOLLAND (Stephanie Flatow, 23 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall, from Rotterdam); Miss IRELAND (Jakki Ann Moore, 17 years, 5 feet 6 1/2 inches tall, from Ardilea); Miss ISRAEL (Levana Abarbanel, 17 years, 5 feet 4 inches tall, from Tel-Aviv); Miss JAMAICA (Cynthia “Cindy” Jean Cameron Breakspeare, 22 years, 5 feet 5 1/2 inches tall, from Kingston); Miss PUERTO RICO (19-year-old Ivette Rosado and 5 feet 7 inches tall, from Bayamón); Miss SINGAPORE (Pauline Poh Neo Cheong, 18 years, 5 feet 7 inches tall, from Kallang); Miss SPAIN (Luz María Polegre Hernández, 18 years old and 5 feet 7 1/2 inches tall, from San Cristóbal de La Laguna, Tenerife); Miss TRINIDAD-TOBAGO (Patricia Anderson Leon, 21 years old and 5 feet 9 inches tall, from San Fernando); Miss REPUBLIC OF TURKEY (Jale Bayhan, 20 years and 5 feet 5 inches tall, from Ankara); Miss UNITED KINGDOM (Carol Jean Grant, 19, 5 feet 6 1/2 inches tall, from Yoker, Glasgow, Scotland); and Miss VENEZUELA (María Genoveva Rivero Giménez, 19 years old and 5 feet 11 inches tall, from Barquisimeto).

                After parading in gowns, the 15 semifinalists were again introduced by Ray Moore, this time in swimsuits, some barefoot, with comments by Patrick Lichfield. At the conclusion of the swimsuit parade, the fifteen posed together in front of the judges before going to dressing rooms to await their decision. When it was time to announce the 7 finalists, the special guest of the night, Sasha Distel, was in charge of interviewing them as he called them in random order. They were: Miss FINLAND, Miss JAMAICA, Miss UK, Miss AUSTRALIA, Miss HOLLAND, Miss REPUBLIC OF TURKEY and Miss GUAM.

               After the seven finalists returned to the backstage to put on their evening gowns again (for the first time in history, Miss World would be crowned dressed rather than in a swimsuit), Sasha Distel performed the theme “Love is All” and Patrick Lichfield, certainly quite nervous and insecure, proceeded to call the reigning Miss World, the Puerto Rican Wilnelia Merced, whom he interviewed. She was able to demonstrate that she had learned to speak English. Behind the stage the seven finalists waited anxiously, already changed into their gowns, surrounded by the rest of their fellow contestants. Later, Ray Moore called Julia Morley for the awards ceremony and Eric Morley to announce the result in reverse order, as usual. This was the following:

                Fifth, Miss FINLAND, Merja Helena Tammi (whose tiara dropped down as soon as she was crowned and who won a prize of £ 250); fourth, Miss UK, Carol Jean Grant (she received a £ 500 award and when she was named, it was heard a sigh of utter disappointment at the Royal Albert Hall, as she was a great favorite of those present); third place, Miss GUAM, Diane Marie Roberts Duenas, with £ 1,000 prize; and in the second position and runner-up of Miss World 1976, Miss AUSTRALIA, Karen Jo Pini, who won a prize of £ 2,000. All the finalists received tiaras in the backstage and Julia Morley presented them with their silver trophies on stage. Waiting backstage there were three girls: Miss Turkey, Miss Jamaica and Miss Holland. Most of the other contestants were openly supporting the beautiful Jamaican.


                And then, Eric Morley announced that the new MISS WORLD 1976 was … Miss JAMAICA !! Cindy Breakspeare, with brown hair, green eyes and measurements 35-24-36, received her Miss World sash behind the scenes to the warm applause from her fellows. Then she went out to receive her silver cup from Julia Morley and sat on the throne to receive the crown from her predecessor Wilnelia Merced. By the way, the crown was a new design similar to that used in the Miss United Kingdom, but made in strass and was used to crown Miss World until 1978. The cape was removed because the Miss World winner would be crowned from that year on in a gown**. A page removed the silver cup from the hands of the brand new world queen and gave her the royal scepter. Cindy then proceeded to take her triumphal walk to the beat of the Miss World march to return to the throne. Interestingly, none of the finalists gave her the customary kiss when she sat on her throne. After wrapping up the uninterrupted 65-minute broadcast, the new Miss World and her finalists posed for press photos before heading to the Coronation Ball, held at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane, where the finalists and the new queen received their awards. There, the sixth and seventh place winners Miss Holland and Miss Turkey also received their trophies and checks. They received £ 150 and £ 100 respectively. In addition, the remaining semifinalists received checks for £ 50 each.

                “I didn’t think I could beat Miss Australia, I thought she would be the winner,” said the new beauty queen excitedly. Asked about the mass withdrawal of candidates, the new Miss World said the following: “The girls were very disappointed”. “There were others who thought they would have to withdraw, but fortunately in the end they did not. But it was unpleasant for each of us”, said Miss Breakspeare. It was feared that she had been ordered by her government to withdraw, but the Jamaican government had issued a statement that it could not compel her to withdraw because she had been sponsored by privates and not by the government. The new queen of world beauty, who was a teacher of Physical Education in Jamaica, confessed that she wanted to marry and have children and that her priority at that time was to buy a piece of land to build a house for her family. She was also a “friend” to 31-year-old Jamaican reggae singer Bob Marley, a Rastafarian who smoked marijuana and was proud to have nine children by seven different women. Cindy said she hoped to open a health food restaurant one day. She won a check for £ 5,000 and the chance to earn another £ 20,000 during her year of reign. Not all the candidates were satisfied with the victory of Miss Jamaica. Miss Finland said it had been “suspicious” that Cindy had won after being crowned during the dress rehearsal. To which Cindy replied that it was completely false that she knew she was going to win and that this was an insult to the judges. “Other girls were also crowned in previous rehearsals. I think Miss Finland has been very unfair”, she concluded.

                “Everything has been so hectic that I haven’t even had time jogging this morning,” said Cindy Breakspeare, the new Miss World, over coffee over breakfast at the Britannia hotel the next morning. The new Miss World celebrated her triumph with champagne before posing for outdoor photos. Miss Breakspeare, a confessed vegetarian, liked to keep fit with a morning run. But after winning the Miss World title on Thursday night, she had celebrated until 4 am, barely had a couple of hours sleep, got up at 6 am to phone her mother in Jamaica before starting a round of commitments. In Jamaica, many residents of the Caribbean island were enthusiastic about Cindy Breakspeare’s victory despite the fact that the Jamaican government had not officially sponsored her participation in the contest. Others criticized and disapproved of her triumph because she had not withdrawn from the contest in protest at the participation of two South African candidates. For many, her participation had been a shame for Jamaica.

** An interesting anecdote of Cindy Breakspeare’s triumph is provided by Jon Osborne, who worked for the contest in the 1970s: “It took me four years after joining the organization to become a Director of Miss World and another two to convince Julia Morley into having the winner crowned in a gown. Truly a PR genius, she saw the benefit of changing the image with this wardrobe switch and, against weighty objections from members of the press and Eric, she was able to get her way. Inside that blue evening dress Cindy wore was a small good luck charm sewn into the lining just before we left for the Royal Albert Hall”.

“I had spent four days leading up to the final keeping a representative of the Jamaican Embassy from meeting with Cindy at the Britannia Hotel to discuss withdrawing. Having obtained odds of 50-1 to bet on Cindy, I was determined she was going to remain a competitor. Taking no chances, I also came up with the idea on the day of the final to find her an amulet to conceal in her garment to bring her good luck and sought out the sponsor from Puerto Rico who had produced the winner the year before. He did have a small trinket brought from his island and gave it to me without knowing why I was requesting it. Cindy’s chaperon sewed the trinket onto her gown; and, going with this superstition obviously produced the right result”.


                Cindy Breakspeare confronted feminists who continued to attack the contest and compared it to a “cattle market”. “I don’t consider myself as cattle”, said the brand new beauty queen. “I think it is important for women to be independent and have equal rights, but like everything you take to extremes, this can also be unpleasant”. 

                The biggest television audience of the year for any TV show in the UK was the Miss World presentation on BBC-1, the BBC audience research department announced that weekend. Some 25 million people watched the show on Thursday night. That year the Variety Club had managed to raise some £ 2.5 million for charity. With the profit obtained this year in the contest, the Miss World organization donated $ 78,750 for the purchase of a medical machine for the Westminster Hospital to benefit the 5-year-old Anthony Nolan Child Aid Foundation.

                In early December, specifically on the 3rd, it was learned that Bob Marley, whom some media had romantically related to Miss World despite being married, had been shot in the arm in a brawl in Kingston, resulting in serious injuries. his wife Rita and his manager Don Taylor. Cindy remained in London fulfilling her own reign commitments and returned to her country at the end of the year due to medical advice after suffering an attack of acute tonsillitis and bronchitis. Once recovered, she returned to London to continue her reign. In April Bob Marley made headlines again after being arrested for cannabis possession in London, while visiting his “friend” Cindy Breakspeare … She took a six-week tour of England, Wales and Scotland, visiting social clubs and Mecca bingo rooms, she traveled to several countries, including Venezuela (she was present at the election of Miss Venezuela 1977), Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Nigeria, Bermuda, Isle of Man, Germany and Iceland; She modeled in New York in July for the Air Jamaica airline, toured Australia in September, and delivered her crown in London in November 1977.


                Cynthia Jean Cameron Breakspeare was born in Toronto, Canada on October 24, 1954, to a Jamaican father (Louis Breakspeare) and a Canadian mother (Marguerite Cochrane), both with British roots. Cindy, as she preferred to be called, had three brothers (John, Stephen and Mark) and one sister (Belinda). She moved to Jamaica when she was four years old and attended Immaculate Conception High School, graduating in 1973. As a teenager, Breakspeare participated in beauty pageants, including Miss Jamaica Body Beautiful and Miss Universe Bikini. In 1976, while working at the Spartan Health Club as an instructor, she was invited to participate in the Miss World competition by her boss, Mickey Haughton-James. “Mickey contacted the organizers of Miss World, who said that I could participate as long as Jamaica did not object to my using the Miss Jamaica sash”, said Breakspeare. She traveled to London and won the Miss World crown on November 18 of that year, becoming the second Jamaican to achieve the coveted title. Upon her return to Jamaica, there was no red carpet reception for the newly crowned Miss World, as, in fact, the politics of the day dictated that beauty pageants were exploitative in nature and as such did not fit to the feminist agenda of the time. So instead of a welcome on the red carpet, hers was a discreet, somewhat shy return, designed not to attract attention and the anger of the political leadership. If being a Miss World was considered a political “no” back then, when it was later learned that Breakspeare had a romantic relationship with reggae singer Bob Marley, with whom she later had her son Damian “Junior Gong” Marley on 21 July 1978, then, when it comes to the upper classes and the ruling social elite, she was now definitely a pariah. The love affair between Marley and Breakspeare lasted until he passed away on May 11, 1981, at age 36, from melanoma. That same year Cindy married Senator Tom Tavares-Finson with whom she has a son (Christian, born in 1982) and a daughter (Leah born in 1986). Christian is currently a lawyer and honorary consul of the Netherlands in Jamaica, while his sister is a promoter of shows in the Niagara region of Canada. Meanwhile, Damian devoted himself to music, like his father, and won a Grammy Award in 2006 for his album “Welcome to Jamrock”. Breakspeare and Tavares-Finson divorced in 1995. Subsequently, Breakspeare married musician Rupert Bent II in 1999. She continued her career as a recording artist and businesswoman. She founded a Rastafarian craft store called “Ital Craf” in Jamaica. She worked as an interior designer and decorator for the Guardsman Group of Companies. She recently prepared the contenders for the Miss Jamaica World 2019 title. From Miss World remember: “It’s a great job for a year and it’s up to you to maximize it. I had a great year and I remember telling the organizers to ‘work with me’. I made it known that I would go wherever they wanted”. She has four grandchildren from her three children and continues to live in Kingston, Jamaica.

Cindy and her son Damian


                The candidates from Brazil, Ecuador and Venezuela decided to stay in London after the contest and for 4 months they traveled to different European countries. Miss Canada, Miss Ireland, Miss Malta and Miss Spain then participated in Miss Universe 1977. The Spanish was a semifinalist and the Canadian was Miss Congeniality. Miss Belgium and Miss Uruguay went to Miss International in 1977 and 1978 respectively. Miss Dominican Republic participated in Miss World Amber 1977. Miss Swaziland competed in Miss Intercontinental and returned to Miss World in 1977. Miss South Africa was a semifinalist in Miss Teenage Intercontinental 1977. Miss Argentina was second runner-up in Miss Tourism of the Americas 1977 and She made a great career as a model and comedy actress. During the nineties she ventured into the theater of comedies and currently works as a television hostess and as an actress. Miss Ecuador participated in the Miss Pearl of the Pacific and went to live in Panama in the 80s, where she founded the Physical Models Agency, an agency that for years worked with Miss Panama. She is recognized in the midst of Panamanian fashion and managed for years the Fashion Week of Panama. Miss Ireland became an anthropologist, actress, artist, watercolorist, illustrator and writer in her country. Miss Mexico was 3rd. runner-up in the Miss Amber of the World 1977. She died of stomach cancer at the age of 55, on November 21, 2013 in La Jolla, California, USA. Miss Peru married Ricardo Bentín and died of cancer on February 20, 2014. Miss Venezuela graduated as a lawyer, is a strong opponent of the Nicolás Maduro government and has lived in Caracas since 1983. Miss Paraguay lives in Argentina and is a housewife .



Thanks to Donald West, Daryl Schabinger, Neil Craig, Jon Osborne, Mario Jérez, Norberto Colón, Edman Raúl, Sally-Ann Fawcett, Henrique Fontes, Andrés Carmona, Junior Zelaya, Lucho Ortega, Miss Holland Now and Glamour Argentino.


One response to “Miss World 1976”

  1. Im glad Julia stuck to her principles by not letting the boycotts force her hand to disqualify the South African girls. Even though apartheid was very wrong, there were more diplomatic ways of dealing with Miss World since they were only trying to give a fair chance to the black women of South Africa by not just accepting the white girl. I’m however disappointed that it took them years to disqualify South Africa all together while alienating the countries that withdrew in protest.

    Liked by 1 person

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