By Julio Rodríguez Matute PAYPAL.ME/RODRIGUEZMATUTE
THE MOST IMPORTANT EVENTS OF THE YEAR.-
Among the most notable events of 1981 are the attacks on Pope John Paul II in the Vatican and the President of the United States, Ronald Reagan in Washington DC, both of whom survive. Prince Charles of Wales and Diana Spencer, better known as Lady Di, marry at St. Paul’s Cathedral. A teenager shoots Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain six blank shots while parading on a horse in London without consequence. Socialist Francois Mitterrand assumes power in France while Ecuador and Peru declare war and in El Salvador the bloody civil war continues. Belize and Antigua & Barbuda become independent from the United Kingdom, Ciskei from South Africa and the Palau Islands from the USA, which adopt the name of “Republic of Belau”. The 52 Americans who had been held at the US Embassy in Iran after 444 days of kidnapping are released. Earthquakes in Kerman (Iran), Sichuan (China), Irian Jaya (Indonesia), Michoacán (Mexico) and Athens (Greece) leave thousands of dead, the latter causing damage to the Parthenon. The Brazilian ship “Sobral Santos” sinks in the Amazon River causing hundreds of victims. The space shuttle Columbia makes its first flight from Cape Canaveral; meanwhile, in Los Angeles, the first cases of HIV in the world are detected and in Australia the Tower of Sydney begins operations. The Venezuelan Irene Sáez achieves the second Miss Universe crown for her country in New York, Jenny Derek of Australia wins Miss International in Japan, the song “Making your mind up” by the British group Buck’s Fizz wins the Eurovision Song Contest in Ireland and Spanish Francisco, with the theme “Latino” triumphs at the OTI in Mexico City. The first film in the Indiana Jones series “In Search of the Lost Ark” is released in theaters; also “Excalibur”, “Condorman” and the second part of “Friday the 13th”. On TV the series “Falcon Crest” begins, the first broadcast of “Entertainment Tonight” airs and the broadcasts of the MTV music channel begin. The musical band “Metallica” is founded while the Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez publishes his “Chronicle of a Death Foretold”. The first IBM personal computer and the Nintendo game “Donkey Kong” are released. In 1981 the Turkish Miss World Azra Akin, the Canadian Miss Universe Natalie Glebova, the singers Britney Spears, Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake and Pitbull, the Puerto Rican Tito el Bambino, the actor Elijah Wood, the celebrities Paris Hilton and Ivanka Trump, the Venezuelan musician Gustavo Dudamel, Venezuelan actress Daniela Alvarado, Brazilian model Adriana Lima and tennis players Serena Williams and Anna Kournikova were born. While Bob Marley, Natalie Wood, former Venezuelan President Rómulo Betancourt and Panamanian President Omar Torrijos die, the latter in a plane crash. On the other hand, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was assassinated.
BACKGROUND OF MISS WORLD 1981.-
As I told you in the previous chapter, Eric Morley became President of the Scottish brewing company “Belhaven Brewery” which was on the brink of bankruptcy and thanks to his great business skills he managed not only to save it, but also to make it quite lucrative. Morley secured an export contract with “Boles and Co.”, a United States company, which generated good dividends and made the beer company one of the main sponsors of the Miss World contest. But the partners of the aforementioned company did not agree with some of the shares of the Miss World owner, such as the purchase of the “Nile Spot” Nightclub in Glasgow, owned by Morley, and decided to resell it to the highest bidder. The cunning Morley, always thinking about business, had also acquired a hotel in Torremolinos, two vacation camps from the late Billy Butlin on the island of Jersey, and a plastic wrapping company with part of the capital of the brewery. In 1981, Morley managed to realize his dream of taking the Miss World previews out of London. Aware that the television audience preferred to enjoy the beauties wearing their slender bodies in swimsuits instead of their elegant evening dresses (remember that the contest was born with the idea of promoting beautiful women in swimsuits), Morley wanted to move the preliminaries of the contest to a place of sun and beach, where the girls could gladly show their physical attributes. Thanks to the sponsorship of the tourist company “Americana Holidays”, which was linked to the North American company with which he had made the contract to export Scottish beer to the United States, Morley managed to take the presentation of the candidates in swimsuits to a much more conducive place for this event: the warm beaches of Miami Beach, which offered a tropical climate, very different from London’s autumn cold.
On the other hand, the ITV broadcast on May 21 the election, in the same program, of the new Miss England, Miss Wales and Miss Scotland, who would no longer go to Miss Universe since Morley had had the rights to that contest taken away, but directly to the Miss United Kingdom. However, Morley wanted to regain these franchises (many girls who signed up for his regional events wanted to go to Miss Universe), so he and his wife Julia took a plane to New York to meet Harold Glasser, President of Miss Universe Inc and attend the universal contest that was held on July 20 at the Minskoff Theater in the Big Apple, an event that was won by the subsequent Mayor and presidential candidate of Venezuela, the statuesque Irene Sáez. (If you look at the Miss Universe 1981 video you can see Eric Morley sitting right behind the jury when they name the second judge, Israeli Itzik Col and Julia Morley euphorically applauding the opening number “New York, New York”). Morley struck a deal with Glasser, reclaimed the franchises from England, Wales, and Scotland to send their girls to Miss Universe again from 1982, and gave the Miss World rights to Miss USA, Glasser’s company, so that the first runner-up of that contest would go to London in representation of the United States, with the expenses totally paid by Morley. Meanwhile, in the British capital, Miss World Kimberly Santos was a little disappointed that she had not been allowed to attend the Miss Universe pageant as a special guest (it was the rival contest) and at the last minute it was canceled a planned trip to Northern Ireland , since she wanted to take the opportunity to visit her grandparents who lived there.
With two new directors joining the Miss World team (Indonesia and Suriname, with which they already had 77), Julia Morley supervised the different national competitions towards the thirty-first edition of the famous world beauty competition, some in person and others in the distance . But in Swaziland and Yugoslavia, the elections of their beauty queens were not held that year, so the Miss World 1981 contest would initially have the participation of 75 countries and territories.
Among them are the following:
* MISS COLOMBIA.- Held on November 11, 1980 in Cartagena de Indias and won by the representative of Santander, the very elegant Nini Johanna Soto González, among 15 candidates. It should be noted that the Miss Universe franchise in that country changed hands this year, so the new Colombian queen was sent to Miss World. It was the first Miss Colombia contest that was seen in colour and broadcast, from that year, on the RCN network. The Vice-Queen was Miss Nariño, Magda Márquez and the Princesses the representatives of Atlantico, Vicky Cárdenas (to Miss International), Amazonas, Ivonne Gómez and Córdoba, Arleth Casado.
* MISS FRANCE.- It was held at the PLM Saint-Jacques hotel in Paris on December 30, 1980, where Miss Normandy, Isabelle Benard, was crowned the new beauty queen of the French country. Benard went to the Miss Europe, Miss Universe and Miss World pageants. Tatiana Teraiamano from Tahiti was chosen as Miss France Overseas and the finalists were Miss Deux-Alpes, Laurence Jouffrey and Miss New Caledonia, Nadine Guillerme.
* MISS PAPUA NEW GUINEA.- Jennifer Abaijah from Milne Bay Province, youngest daughter of Congresswoman Josephine Abaijah, was crowned “Miss Papua New Guinea 1981” on February 21, 1981 at the Papua Hotel in Port Moresby, an event sponsored by the Red Cross and which had the participation of 15 girls. Abaijah was unable to attend Miss Universe for unknown reasons, but she did go to Miss Asia and Miss World. The finalists were Jennifer Nelson and Geno Raka Solomon. Miss Papua New Guinea won a Toyota Starlet as part of her awards.
* MISS VENEZUELA.- Miss Miranda, Irene Sáez Conde, obtained the crown of “Miss Venezuela 1981” on Thursday May 7 at the Macuto Sheraton Hotel Theater in Caraballeda, achieving absolute victory among 19 contestants. The event, produced for the second consecutive year by Joaquín Riviera, was hosted by Carmen Victoria Pérez, Gilberto Correa and the former Miss Venezuela María Antonieta Cámpoli. Miss Aragua, Pilin León, obtained the right to go to Miss World and Miss Federal District, Miriam Quintana, to Miss International. The other finalists were Miss Apure, Norys Silva (to Miss Young International), Miss Zulia, Ana Verónica Muñoz (to Miss Nations), Miss Vargas Department, Irama Muñoz (to Miss Tourism of the Americas) and Miss Bolívar, Miúrica Yánez ( who should go to the International Reign of the Sea in Santa Marta, Colombia). Irene Sáez later won the Miss South American Confraternity contest in Lima, Peru and Miss Universe in New York, USA.
* MISS HOLLAND.- Held on Friday May 8 in the city of Maastricht. The title was taken by Ingrid Schouten who went to Miss Europe and Miss Universe, while Saskia Lemmers (the 1st runner-up, who had already competed in Miss Holland 1977) was sent to Miss World. The other finalists were Ine Hoedemaeckers, Donna Melief and Shirley Mescher. As a curious note, Mescher’s daughter, Melissa, was elected Miss Nederland 2007 and represented the country in Miss World of that year.
* MISS DOMINICAN REPUBLIC.- Josefina Cuello was elected 1st. runner-up of the Dominican National Beauty Contest held on Saturday, May 9 at the La Fuente Night Club at the Jaragua Hotel. Due to her position she was designated to go to Miss World, while the queen, Lucía Peña Veras, went to Miss Universe. The other finalists were Alicia Jérez, Ana Castellanos and Lourdes Soto.
* MISS USA.- Lisa Moss, Miss Louisiana, was the second runner-up in “Miss USA 1981” held Thursday, May 21 at the Gulf Port Convention Center in Biloxi, Mississippi. The winner was Miss Ohio, Kim Seelbrede, whose title allowed her to compete in Miss Universe. After many years, the organization chaired by Harold Glasser of Miss Universe Inc., once again had the rights of Miss World and, initially, such honor would correspond to the first runner-up, Miss Indiana, Holli Rene Dennis, but at the moment in which the deal with the Miss World organization was closed, she had already made personal plans, so the 2nd runner-up was given the opportunity. Rounding up the Top 5 were Miss California, Cynthia Kerby and Miss Hawaii, Teri Ann Linn. 50 candidates competed as Miss New York, Deborah Fountain, was disqualified after having been found she had padded her swimsuit.
* MISS HONDURAS.- 1981 was the beginning of the fall of the Honduran national beauty pageant that came out of the traditional Tropicana cinema of San Pedro Sula to be held in Campo Agas, place of Livestock Exhibition, on Saturday May 30. The contest was won by Leslie Sabillón, Miss Tegucigalpa, who competed in Miss Universe. Miss Atlántida, Lorna Ponce, was Fourth, Miss Department of Cortés, Patricia Durón, Third; Miss La Ceiba, Mery Irias, Second and Miss San Pedro Sula, Xiomara Sikaffy, First runner-up, the latter with the right to represent Honduras in Miss World.
* MISS SWITZERLAND- Brigitte Voss won the “Miss Switzerland 1981” crown on Saturday June 20 in Zurich. The finalists were Margrit Kilchor (who had attended Miss Universe the previous year) and Ruth Hinder. The new Miss Switzerland had to go to both Miss Universe and Miss World, but in the end she only went to the first one because on the dates of the London pageant she decided to enjoy one of her prizes, a vacation trip to South Africa. The first runner-up was then sent to Miss World.
* MISS TOURISM MEXICO.- Miss Nuevo León, Judith Grace González, was named as the first Miss Tourism Mexico in 1981, a contest that merged the Miss Mexico contest with that of Miss Tourism, held at the National Auditorium of Mexico City on June 28 and which had only two years of existence. González represented the country in Miss Universe. The finalists were the representatives of Tamaulipas, Doris Pontvianne Espinosa (to Miss World); Yucatan, María Fabiola Torre; Tabasco, María Eugenia Alamilla and Baja California Norte, Laura González Aguirre.
* MISS CONMOMWEALTH BAHAMAS.- Held at the Le Cabaret Theater in Paradise Island on Sunday, August 2 with 14 candidates. The winner was Monique Ferguson from Freeport, Grand Bahama. The finalists were Alison Gena Ferguson, Rozena Roma Kemp, Laura Pratt and Karen Nadia Baillou.
* MISS UNITED KINGDOM.- It was held on Wednesday, August 26 at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London with the participation of 48 candidates. It was won by Miss Wales, Michele Donnelly, who represented the country in Miss World. The finalists were Della Frances Dolan, Miss Yorkshire and Georgina Kearney, Miss Scotland. On a curious note, Dolan won Miss England and Miss United Kingdom the following year.
* MISS JAMAICA.- Sandra Cunningham, a 24-year-old secretary, prevailed over 18 other participants in the contest held on Saturday, August 29 at the National Arena in Kingston, obtaining the right to represent her country in Miss World. The finalists were Marion Robinson, Margaret Ramsay, Debra Wittingham and Isabella Hendricks.
* MISS SPAIN- The “Miss Spain 1981” gala was held in Playa de las Américas, Tenerife, on Saturday, September 12, and the title falling on Cristina Pérez Cottrell from Malaga, representative of the Costa del Sol. Luisa Isabel Pérez, representative of La Palma waschosen as “Miss National” and María del Carmen Arques Vicente, from Alicante, was “Maid of Honor”.
* MISS GIBRALTAR.- It was held on Saturday, September 12 at St.Michael’s Cave but the contest was fraught with problems when the winner Yvette Bellido resigned the crown on her return from Miss World. Despite countless efforts to change her mind, they were unsuccessful and the crown passed to the 1st Princess, Pilar Ford. But just when the problems seemed to be over, Pilar interrupted a visit to Morocco, where she represented the territory in the Miss Nations pageant, and returned home, also renouncing the title of Miss Gibraltar. The crown was awarded to the 2nd Princess, Michelle Lara, who won the Miss Friendship title in the Miss Europe of 1982 and who was to represent Gibraltar in the Miss Universe of that same year, but did not.
* MISS WORLD BRAZIL.- In 1981, SBT, a new television channel owned by presenter Silvio Santos, obtained the rights to produce the Miss Brazil pageant for Miss Universe. Paulo Max, who organized the Miss Brazil pageant until 1980, retained the Miss World and Miss International licenses. For Miss World, he signed a partnership with Odarcio Ducci, who produced the “Garota Ilha Porchat” beauty contest on July 31st at the Ilha Porchat Clube Hotel in Sao Vicente, Sao Paulo, and it was decided that the winner that year would be the Brazilian representative in Miss World. This is how Maristella Silva Grazzia beat 60 other candidates in what was the first Brazilian national contest to send their winner to Miss World. Grazzia had already been chosen the most beautiful student in Brazil and the queen of Brazilian beaches. She won a new car and the right to represent Brazil in London. The finalists were Rose Mary Caruso and Joseane Cunha Carvalho.
* MISS ZIMBABWE.- On Friday, September 18, the final of “Miss Zimbabwe 1981” was held, an event sponsored by the multinational Unilevel in a theater in Salisbury. The contest had been postponed for a week due to the fact that of the 17 candidates, nine were white, five black and three were of mixed race, which led to protests by the black majority of the country. Therefore, the organizers postponed the contest to find other girls of color who could join the contest. A government spokesman had said it would be embarrassing and unrepresentative if a white-skinned girl won the event, and said they would ban the contest if one of them were to win. That prompted Irish-born hotel entrepreneur Tim Horgan to step down as Director of the organization. Amid speculation that the contest was arranged for a white contestant to win, in the end it was possible to gather 30 participants, where 18 of them were black. The crown was eventually taken by Julieth Nyathi, 24, of black skin, from Bulawayo. Her sister Doreen Nyathi was first runner-up and second Jennifer Johnson, both black skinned. After the results were known, many of the candidates and most of the attendees stormed out of the theater as a way of protesting, because it had been said beforehand that Julieth was the favorite of the new sponsors, who supposedly wanted a black woman to advertise their products of personal cleanliness. Shortly after her triumph, the new queen was accused of being the mother of two children, a fact she flatly denied. Horgan threatened to inform the Miss World organization of this assumption and that the new organizers of Miss Zimbabwe discriminated against white women.
* MISS SINGAPORE WORLD.- The theater-restaurant Neptuno was again the venue of the contest on Saturday, September 19, an event that was attended by Miss World 1980, Kimberly Santos and Julia Morley. The winner was Sushil Kaur Sandhu from Ang Mo Kio but of Indian roots. The finalists turned out to be Marie Wong, Lucy Lim, Belinda Seow and Christine Teng. The brand new Miss Singapore World was criticized for saying that the Punjabi girls were prettier than the others …
* MISS ARGENTINA.- The Cordovan Ana Helen Natali won the representation of Argentina for Miss World in a contest held on Monday, October 12 at the studios of Canal 13. The finalists were Gilda Alicia Dufour, Sandra Beatriz Ryhr, Claudia Esther Córdoba and Gabriela Mariel Hernández.
* MISS PORTUGAL.- On Sunday October 18 the finals of “Miss Portugal 1981” were held in Johannesburg (South Africa), being the first time that the contest was held outside the country. Eighteen beauties competed, 16 of whom came from the Portuguese community in South Africa. The winner was Paula Leal Dos Santos, a 20-year-old medical student born in Lisbon.
A TOPLESS QUEEN.-
German organizers had to send the Miss Germany’s first runner-up, Barbara Reimund, to Miss World because the winner, Miss Bavaria, Marion Kurz, chosen in June at the Hilton hotel in Munich and who managed to be a semi-finalist in Miss Universe, had posed topless for a magazine in that country. To avoid further scandals such as those that had been generated by the resigning Gabriella Brum the previous year, the organization preferred to send Barbara, just 17, to London.
CANCELLED CONTESTS AND DESIGNATED QUEENS.-
It should also be noted that in 1981 the “Miss World Canada” contest was suspended, which was originally scheduled for October 22, so the organizers sent the previous year’s 1st runner-up, Earla Stewart, to London. In an interview hours before leaving for Miss World, Stewart said she loved visiting new countries and meeting people. “I used to be very shy and the contests helped me out of my shell,” she said. “I am a little nervous but I feel confident enough to face this challenge.” The contests experience began after the persuasion of parents and friends. “I was a terribly ugly girl and I developed an inferiority complex,” she said. The complex soon disappeared when she won the Harvest Queen crown in the fall of 1977 in Pembroke. In January 1980, she was elected queen of the city’s carnival. She then entered the Miss Eastern Ontario pageant in Perth and was chosen from 38 contestants. That crown was her passport to Miss World Canada. Describing herself as a sports enthusiast who preferred life in a small town, she said she hoped to return to the quiet life after Miss World. She had realized that if she won, the modeling and movie deals could be hers, but she hadn’t decided to take them if she would be victorious. “That is something I will have to see when the time comes,” she said. When asked about feminist criticism of beauty pageants, she was quick to defend the pageants. Stewart said whoever criticizes contests has never experienced competition. “It is obvious that they have not spoken to anyone who has participated in a contest,” she said. “After having helped organize the carnival contest, I have seen that they help them learn to speak in public and improve their personality.”
In the land of the Incas, the “Miss Peru World” was not held that year either, since the editor of Gente magazine, Enrique Escardó, had returned unsatisfied with the treatment received in London at Miss World the previous year, so in 1981 he decided to appoint the former Miss Peru 1978, Olga Zumarán, who had managed to be a semifinalist in Miss Universe, as the new “Miss Peru World 1981”. She was symbolically crowned as such at the Cesar´s hotel in Miraflores by Escardó himself at noon on Monday, September 14. On the other hand, in Suriname they chose Joan Boldewijn in an emerging contest, since she was not the official Miss Suriname, since this event had not been held since 1979. Meanwhile, the Austrians sent to Miss World the winner of “Miss Vorarlberg “(a regional contest), Miss Beatrix Kopf from the city of Rothis and in Ecuador, they named the blonde Lucia Vinueza as the representative of the Ecuadorian beauty in 1981. By the way, her aunt Rosana Vinueza had also been Miss Ecuador in 1969.
Several girls had previous experience in the Miss Universe pageant held in New York months before: Miss Belgium, Miss Bermuda, Miss Cayman Islands, Miss Denmark, Miss Ecuador, Miss France and Miss Thailand. Of these, the Belgian was 4th runner-up, the Ecuadorian was a semifinalist and the Danish was Miss Photogenic. That year, Miss Ecuador also participated in the Miss South American Confraternity and in the Miss Latin America. In Miss Universe but in 1978, Miss Peru competed and was a semifinalist, and in the 1980 contests took part Miss Switzerland, who also competed in Miss Young International in 1979, an event in which the Finnish girl also attended. From Miss International came Miss Germany and Miss Tahiti as well as the Danish and the Belgian candidates. Both the latter and the German managed to be semifinalists in that event. Miss Belgium had also been 2nd runner-up in Miss Teenage Intercontinental 1979. Miss France competed in Miss Young International 1980 and in Miss Europe 1981 where she was a semi-finalist. Miss Papua New Guinea competed in Miss Asia 1981.
A DISQUALIFIED CONTESTANT.-
Participants from Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania began to travel to London from October 18 to meet there before leaving all together for the city of Miami, staying at the Grosvenor House Hotel. The candidates from the American continent, with the exception of Miss Suriname who arrived in London, traveled directly to the warm city of South Florida, where they were supposed to be by October 23. Upon arriving in London, the representative of Portugal, Paula Leal Dos Santos, was informed that she could not participate in Miss World. The reasons? she was a legal resident in South Africa and the contest had been held in that country, although she had been born in Portugal and had a Portuguese passport. But she broke two rules of the contest: She lived in a different country than the one she represented and the contest was not held in the represented country. In addition to that, she came from a nation that had been banned from the contest since 1978 for its racial practices. “As far as I am concerned, she is South African and cannot participate,” Eric Morley told the media, quickly removing Portugal from the official list of 75 entrants. “I am very disappointed not to be able to participate” said the young woman. As much as she cried and kicked, Miss Portugal was not allowed to get on the plane to Miami. The girl spent fifteen days in London trying to get advice from lawyers to allow her to participate but she could do nothing and had to return to Johannesburg, a South African city where she had resided for the last seven years. At the airport, she told the press: “I no longer want to participate in a contest where they don’t want me.” Her sponsors of the firm Nuwave Promotions, announced that they could take legal action against Miss World for breach of contract but that did not happen.
DID NOT COMPETE:
PRELIMINARIES IN MIAMI.-
Sixty-seven girls arrived in Miami for the Miss World 1981 contest on Friday, October 23, and were accommodated at the Fontainebleau Hilton hotel in Miami Beach. Miss Venezuela, Pilin León, came with eight suitcases to the pageant, definitely one of the candidates who took the contest quite seriously. The beauties enjoyed leisure time, enjoyed the pool and the beach, got to know the nightlife of the city and visited the famous Everglades Park. The shooting of the contestants in their swimsuits by the pool and on the beach of the hotel began on Sunday the 25th and the girls stayed in that city until Friday 30th October, when they all flew to London together. Morley had originally announced that there would be a panel of judges in Miami for them to evaluate the girls in swimwear, and said those votes would be tabulated in conjunction with that of the judges in London. But this did not happen for unknown reasons. Perhaps the planned jury was unable to travel to Miami or if the predicted tropical storm threats for the American state in those days made the evaluation impossible. Although they were expected in Miami, seven participants did not arrive at the contest, among them Miss DOMINICA (Elitra Ducreay), Miss INDONESIA (Rossje Soeratman), Miss PANAMA (Elizabeth Pérez Espino), Miss PARAGUAY (María Isabel Urizar Jara) and Miss VIRGIN ISLANDS (whose name is unknown). Miss Indonesia did not receive permission from the government of her country to travel to the contest, as happened with her participation in Miss Universe, while Miss NIGERIA (Tokunbo “Kemi” Onanuga) was dethroned days before traveling to London when it was discovered that she had forged a WAEC certificate that she used to gain admission to the University of Lagos. WAEC confirmed that Onanuga had committed exam fraud, so her title was removed and there was no time to send in a replacement. On the other hand, Miss MAURITIUS (Carole Fitzgerald), who had withdrawn from Miss Universe a few months earlier, was not accepted for being 28 years old, nor was it resolved to send a last minute replacement. In Panama, the contest rights belonged to the Ministry of Tourism but they did not resolve the sending of the 1st. runner-up of Miss Panama 1981 as they did the previous year, so they lost the franchise in 1982.
PREVIOUS DAYS IN LONDON.-
Beauties from around the world arrived in the British capital on the morning of Saturday, October 31. The first days in the city were dedicated to the usual tourist walks through the different locations such as the Tower of London, the famous change of the Royal Guard at Buckingham Palace, the boat trip along the Thames river, the Cathedral of Saint Paul and Trafalgar Square, among others. They also had time to shop, attended music shows in West End theaters, were invited to the opening of a citizen radio band, and enjoyed a special welcome dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel, where they were staying. There was also time to forge friendships as exotic as Miss Venezuela’s with Miss Lesotho, although the Venezuelan’s roommate was Miss El Salvador, with whom she got along wonderfully. But Pilin León’s best friend in the pageant was Miss Mexico. Her hotel room was right next to the room of the Mexican girl, who by the way became very friendly with all the competitors, and whose room she shared with Miss Curaçao. The Venezuelan also made a very beautiful friendship with Miss Honduras, Miss Cayman Islands, Miss USA and Miss Brazil.
On Friday, November 6, it was held the lunch that every year was offered by the Variety Club of Great Britain at the Grosvenor House Hotel. As was traditional, the girls came down from their rooms wearing their national costumes and carrying the gifts that each of them brought from their countries for the auction to benefit the children’s charities of the aforementioned club. On Saturday the 7th, the participants received a group of children at the hotel for the customary Christmas party that was offered each year for a beautiful sharing with them and where the scope of “Beauty with a Purpose” was announced. On Sunday the 8th the Press Presentation was made, this time in the Topshop stores on Oxford Street, where all 67 participants wore sports suits sponsored by the mentioned brand and which consisted of a white shorts and T-shirt, with the name of the country represented printed on the chest. At the end of the activity, the photojournalists chose their queen: Miss Photogenic, who was Miss Australia and who won a trophy. This year, the Miss World girls were not as harassed by bookmakers as in previous years, because the public preferred to bet that year on guessing the sex of Lady Di’s baby with Prince Charles of Wales, who would be the next heir to the British royal throne. The favorites for that time were Miss Brazil and Miss Venezuela, both with 6-1 odds.
This time, the fluffiness of some earlier quests was more muted. In fact, a number of contestants had formidable intellectual credentials. Miss India, Deepti Divakar, boasts an IQ of 175 — higher than many heads of state — and wants to be the 20th century’s answer to Leonardo da Vinci. Miss Korea, Hanna Lee, listed her ambition as wanting to head an international corporation, such as IBM. And Miss Trinidad and Tobago, Rachael Ann Thomas, describing herself as an esthetician, says she plans to own an international chain of health spas. Here is the table with the data of the participants in Miss World 1981:
|ARGENTINA||Ana Helen Natali||21||Secretary, model and Physical Education student|
|ARUBA||Gerarda Hendrine Jantiene Roepel||24||Student of law|
|BAHAMAS||Monique Ferguson||18||Hotel hostess|
|BELGIUM||Dominique Van Eeckhoudt||20||Model|
|BERMUDA||Cymone Florie Tucker||21||Frontdesk hotel receptionist|
|BOLIVIA||Carolina Díaz Mansour||17||High school student and a bank clerk|
|BRAZIL||Maristella Silva Grazzia||17||High school student and a model|
|CANADA||Earla Stewart||22||Dental assistant and a model|
|CAYMAN ISLANDS||Donna Marie Myrie||20||Bank teller|
|CHILE||Susana Bravo Indo||19||Model|
|COLOMBIA||Nini Johanna Soto González||18||Social worker and student of languages|
|COSTA RICA||Sucetty Salas Quintanilla||18||Student of tourism and a model|
|CURACAO||Mylene Mariela Gerard||21||Flight information assistant|
|DOMINICAN REPUBLIC||Josefina María Cuello Pérez||24||Student of accountancy|
|ECUADOR||Berta Lucía Isabel Vinueza Urgelles||18||Student. Wants to be an architect|
|EL SALVADOR||Martha Alicia Ortíz||19||Receptionist|
|FINLAND||Pia Irmeli Ann-Marie Nieminen||20||Model|
|FRANCE||Isabelle Sophie Benard||19||Model|
|GIBRALTAR||Yvette Maria Bellido||18||Sales Assistant|
|GREECE||Maria Argyrokastritou||22||Student of Medicine|
|GUAM||Rebecca Arroyo||21||Student of fine arts|
|GUATEMALA||Beatriz Bojorquez Palacios||23||Student of architecture|
|HONDURAS||Xiomara Sikaffy Mena||20||Beauty consultant|
|HONG KONG||Winnie Chin Wai-Yee||18||Studying to be a social worker|
|ICELAND||Asdis Eva Hannesdóttir||23||Student of business and a model|
|INDIA||Deepti Divakar||22||Student of architecture|
|IRELAND||Geraldine Mary McGrory||22||Model|
|ISLE OF MAN||Nicola-Jane Grainger||18||Advocates clerk|
|ISRAEL||Ninnette Assor||22||Supervisor and model|
|ITALY||Marisa Tutone||17||Student and model|
|JAMAICA||Sandra Angela Cunningham||24||Secretary|
|JAPAN||Naomi Kishi||18||Student of Japanese literature|
|JERSEY||Elizabeth Sarah Walmsley||18||Hotel receptionist|
|KOREA||Hanna Lee||19||Student of real estate business|
|LEBANON||Zeina Joseph Challita||19||Student of political sciences|
|LESOTHO||Palesa Joyce Kalele||18||Student of law|
|MALAYSIA||Cynthia Geraldine de Castro||20||Receptionist|
|MALTA||Elizabeth-Mary Fenech||19||Factory supervisor|
|MEXICO||Dora Elizabeth “Doris” Pontvianne Espinosa||18||Tourism promoter|
|NEW ZEALAND||Raewyn Patricia Marcroft||18||Typist|
|PAPUA NEW GUINEA||Jennifer Abaijah||19||Sales assistant|
|PERU||Olga Roxana Zumarán Burga||22||Student of Psychology|
|PHILIPPINES||Suzette Umali Nicolas||24||Dental student and a model|
|PUERTO RICO||Andrenira Ruíz Sáez||19||Student of business administration, accounting and computers|
|SINGAPORE||Sushil Kaur Sandhu||20||Teacher in primary school|
|SPAIN||Cristina Pérez Cottrell||18||Model|
|SRI LANKA||Sonya Elizabeth Tucker||20||Telex operator and a secretary|
|SURINAME||Joan Boldewijn||18||Student of tourism|
|SWITZERLAND||Margrit Kilchoer||21||Saleswoman of men´s wear|
|TAHITI||Maimiti Kinnander||20||Professional dancer|
|THAILAND||Massupa Karbprapun||21||Student of law|
|TRINIDAD & TOBAGO||Rachael Ann Thomas||21||Beauty consultant|
|TURKEY||Aydan Sener||18||School secretary|
|UNITED KINGDOM||Michele Donnelly||20||Secretary|
|UNITED STATES||Lisa Lynn Moss||23||Student of microbiology|
|URUGUAY||Silvia Marianela Bas Carresse||23||Student of law|
|VENEZUELA||Carmen Josefina “Pilín” León Crespo||18||Student of computer engineering and a model|
|WESTERN SAMOA||Juliana Curry||17||High school,student|
|ZIMBABWE||Juliet Nyathi||24||Beauty consultant|
A BUG IN THE PAGEANT.-
On Monday, November 9, the candidates made the traditional visit to the House of Commons and then went to the Albert Hall to begin rehearsals for the grand finale. Tuesday 10 was dedicated exclusively to practices. But the “fever” of the Miss World spread like wildfire on the eve of the contest. And it is that a bug affected several of the contestants on Tuesday and made some of them unable to continue with the rehearsals, complaining of general discomfort and severe headaches. One of the favorites, Miss Germany, was one of those affected and withdrew from the rehearsals and made her way to the hotel, where a doctor was expected to visit her. “Miss Germany is not feeling very well, but we hope she recovers by the final night,” said Julia Morley. Miss Austria, her roommate, was also another who was not feeling well and, as a nurse, she explained the situation: “Yesterday we were rehearsing 12 hours in the Royal Albert Hall, it was cold and drafty and we were under big bright lights. I think all of this was not good for the girls’ health”, said the Austrian, adding that some candidates could not continue rehearsing because they felt very bad. While the sick women were at the hotel resting, other contestants went to the salon of the prominent stylist Leonard from Mayfair to prepare for the grand finale. On Wednesday the 11th, the opening recording and the individual presentation of the contestants was also recorded with the girls wearing their national costumes where they said their name, age and occupation whose voices were previously recorded. Also recorded was the track “Top of the World” by Los Carpenters (adapted to the contest), which all the girls sang on stage. The “Dress Rehearsal” was also held where 15 semifinalists were chosen for the swimsuit parade and another fifteen different ones for the evening dress parade, so that more girls could rehearse the route on the stage of the final event. As an anecdote, Miss Mexico paraded with a swimsuit borrowed by Miss Venezuela in red, half shoulder, with a detail in that shoulder in black leather that reminded of an eagle and she thought it could be representative of her country. During the rehearsal, Miss Mexico received her award as Miss Personality, chosen almost unanimously by the rest of her fellow contestants and, in addition, was crowned as Miss World of the rehearsal. On the other hand, the guest star of the election night would be the Spanish singer Julio Iglesias, but for unknown reasons, he did not appear for the dress rehearsal and was replaced by the Australian-American singer Helen Reddy.
A CHEIK WANTED TO BUY A CONTESTANT.-
On the other hand, a Qatari oil sheik had offered 20,000 camels for the hand of Miss Australia, Melissah Hannan. The unusual marriage proposal came just hours before the Miss World final at London’s Albert Hall, the DAILY MAIL newspaper said. Miss Australia’s father, Sydney TV celebrity Jimmy Hannan said: “I thought he was joking. But he had seen my daughter at the hotel and he was deadly serious.” “I told him I wasn’t interested. Now if he had offered oil wells … that would be a different story,” he joked.
CHANGES IN THE CONTEST.-
In addition to the fact that for the first time in history the preliminary swimsuit parade was prerecorded outside London, this year the continental beauty queens would also be chosen for the first time and, of the seven finalists, only the first three would be announced during the broadcast. The rest of the positions would be announced during the Coronation Ball and these four finalists would receive the same sum of £ 500 as a prize. Each continental queen would receive an additional prize that would raise the amount won to £ 1,000. It is also worth noting that the individual presentation of the contestants in their national costumes was made this year divided by continents. This year the contest broadcast would be an hour and a half (half an hour less than in 1980), including commercial breaks.
FAVORITES OF THE BET HOUSES.-
THE SUN newspaper published in its Thursday, November 12 issue the photos of all the contestants with their betting odds according to Ladbroke´s. The top favorites were Miss Venezuela with 11-2 (or 5.5-1) and Miss United Kingdom with 13-2 (6.5-1). They were followed by Miss Brazil with 7-1, Miss Jamaica with 8-1 and Miss Australia with 8-1, Miss United States and Miss Germany with 12-1, Miss Austria, Miss Chile, Miss Colombia and Miss France with 16-1, Miss Italy and Miss Sweden with 20-1 and Miss Bahamas, Miss Belgium, Miss Holland, Miss India and Miss Ireland with 25-1. The Coral agency had similar bets. The newspaper also mentioned Miss Venezuela as the possible winner, followed closely by Miss Brazil and Miss Jamaica. On the other hand, the journalist Don Short of the DAILY MIRROR, published the Venezuelan in the central pages showing the wardrobe she had brought for the contest and titled the note “This is how a Miss World is prepared” giving her as the top favorite. This journalist hit the winner every year, so his support for Miss Venezuela boded well. THE SUN newspaper interviewed the contestants, asking them who they thought might win. Eleven of the candidates voted for Miss Venezuela (Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Spain, Uruguay, United Kingdom, Greece, the Philippines and Suriname), ten voted for Miss United Kingdom (Australia, Cayman Islands, Cyprus, France, Germany, Israel, Isle of Man, Lesotho, New Zealand and Tahiti) and ten others by Miss Brazil (Dominican Republic, Gibraltar, Honduras, Italy, Norway, Peru, Puerto Rico, Sweden, Turkey and Western Samoa). After them came Miss Chile with 5 votes, Miss Belgium with 4, Miss Australia with 3 and with one vote the representatives of Finland, Italy, Colombia, Denmark and Jamaica (who voted for herself !!). The rest of the girls refrained from mentioning a possible winner.
THE GRAND FINALE.-
Thus came the great day. The nerves were exhausted, the adrenaline was running a million. The contestants were preparing everything for the long-awaited final of the contest. The bets had already been closed and the decision would now rest with a panel of celebrities, who spoke earlier with each of the competitors. At 7:55 pm on Thursday, November 12, the 1981 Miss World contest began at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Phil Tate and his orchestra were commissioned, as every year, to perform the musical overture before Eric Morley came on stage to explain the proceedings and announce the evening’s comperes, Peter Marshall and Judith Chalmers. These were in charge of presenting the Dougie Squires Dancers who performed to the tune of “All we need are the girls” as the opening number of the contest. Immediately came the individual parade of all the contestants in their evening gowns, divided by continents, the first to come out were the girls from Europe, then the ones from Oceania, Asia, Africa and, finally, those of the American continent. By the way, Miss Cyprus and Miss Turkey, who were previously in the group of Asians, were introduced in the European continent. After the evening gown parade, the 67 competitors appeared in their individual swimwear parade, to conclude all on stage and pose in groups of five in front of the judges. By the way, this year they again disclosed the anatomical measurements of the contestants, at least on the night of the contest. At 8:30 at night the broadcast of the Miss World began, for an hour and a half, on ITV. It started with the opening presentation with the Dougie Squires Dancers that had been prerecorded the night before along with the introduction in national costumes of all the contestants, divided according to their continents, and the musical theme “Top of the World” that the girls sang on stage.
“TOP OF THE WORLD” (original from the Carpenters)
We’re on the top of the world lookin’ down on creation
And the only explanation we can find
Is the love all around and the happiness we found
It just put us on the top of the world
We’re on the top of the world lookin’ down on creation
And the only explanation we can find
Is the love all around and the happiness we found
It just put us on the top of the world
We’re on the top of the world lookin’ down on creation
And the only explanation we can find
Is the love all around and the happiness we found
It just put us on the top of the world
After the first commercial break, images of the swimsuit parade were broadcast from the Fontainebleau Hilton in Miami Beach. While the viewing public watched this, at the Royal Albert Hall, Peter Marshall announced to the audience the names of the 15 semi-finalists. They were: Miss BELGIUM (Dominique Van Eeckhoudt, 20 years and 5 f 7 i, from Waterloo), Miss IRELAND (Geraldine Mary McGrory, 22 years and 5 f 8 i, from Shandon Park, Londonderry), Miss UNITED KINGDOM (Michele Donnelly 20 years and 5 f 10 and a half inches, from Cardiff, Wales), Miss AUSTRALIA (Melissah Hannan 20 years and 5 f 8.5 i, from Mosman, New South Wales), Miss JAPAN (Naomi Kishi, 18 years and 5 f 6 i, from Kawasaki), Miss ZIMBABWE (Juliet Nyathi, 24 years old and 5 f 7 i, from Bulawayo), Miss ARGENTINA (Ana Helen Natali, 21 years old and 5 f 8 i, from Villa María, Córdoba), Miss BRAZIL (Maristella Silva Grazzia 17 years and 5 f 6.5 i, from Sao Paulo), Miss CANADA (Earla Stewart 23 years and 5 f 7 i, from Pembroke, Ontario), Miss COLOMBIA (Nini Johanna Soto González 18 years and 5 f 9 i, from Bucaramanga), Miss JAMAICA (Sandra Angela Cunningham, 24 years old and 5 f 6 i, from Kingston), Miss MEXICO (Dora Elizabeth “Doris” Pontvianne Espinosa, 18 years old and 5 f 10.5 i, from Tampico, Tamaulipas), Miss TRINIDAD & TOBAGO (Rachael Ann Thomas, 21 years old and 5 f 7 i, of Diego Martín), Miss UNITED STATES (Lisa Lynn Moss, 23 years and 5 f 8 i, from Shreveport, Louisiana) and Miss VENEZUELA (Carmen Josefina “Pilín” León Crespo, 18 years and 5 f 10 i, from Maracay, Aragua).
The broadcast began live with the introduction of the nine members of the judges for both the theater and TV audience. They were:
01- Gloria Vanderbilt’s Jeans European manager, Rex Christie.
02- Miss World 1966, Reita Faria from India.
03- Renowned British stylist Leonard Lewis.
04- Welsh singer Shirley Bassey.
05- Eric Morley, Organizer of Miss World and Chairman of the Judges.
06- English actress Susan George.
07- Manager of Edelson Furs, Michael Edelson.
08- Miss World 1977, Mary Stavin from Sweden.
09- Manager of Americana Holidays, Paul Morris.
After the judge’s introductions, Judith Chalmers called the 15 semifinalists in their bathing suits, who arrived on stage in groups of five before doing the individual parade, while Peter Marshall announced the personal details of each of them. In the end, the 15 posed together for the qualifying judges. There was a commercial break as the candidates changed into their evening gowns, and a “Beauty with a Purpose” video was featured. Then, the 15 semi-finalists, already in their evening gowns, were briefly interviewed, one by one, by Judith Chalmers and Peter Marshall. Miss Belgium talked about her trips and her previous contests, the Irish girl told about a modeling experience she had with a horse, Miss United Kingdom talked about her activities as a national queen and the trip to Miami; Miss Australia told about her father’s work on TV in her country, the Japanese girl told about the walks she had enjoyed the most in London, Miss Zimbabwe spoke about her favorite sports and greeted in the Shona language. Miss Argentina had a translator and Judith asked her why she wanted to be a physical therapist and she lengthened her answer so much that Judith Chalmers interrupted her and did not give the interpreter time to translate her answer for the English audience. Miss Brazil, although she had a translator, preferred to speak in English and told what she liked best about Miami and London, reconfirming her favoritism among the public. Meanwhile, Miss Canada said that she wanted to “give teeth” to the world’s problems and was also very applauded. Miss Colombia relied on an interpreter who did not help her with the translation of the question about Colombian seismology; In response to Miss Colombia’s well-weighted response, the translator only answered “not many” in reference to the earthquakes in that country. The Jamaican spoke of her fascination with the architecture of the old buildings, the Mexican had an interpreter and spoke of tennis and defended herself in English, saying that she liked both English and Mexican men. Miss Trinidad spoke of her passion for fitness, Miss United States told of her bicycle tour of Europe, and Miss Venezuela spoke of her studies in Computer Engineering (a career she was studying at the Simón Bolívar University) and described the qualities that her ideal man, implying that she had already got one and, with the help of the translator, said that she liked smart and very tall men.
After this, Peter Marshall interviewed Julia Morley who recounted the advances of “Beauty with a Purpose” and then Miss World 1980, Kimberly Santos, who paraded with the Guam anthem and spoke about her memories during her year of reign. Later, Judith Chalmers called the seven finalists, who paraded individually in gowns, with comments from Peter Marshall. They were Miss BRAZIL, Miss COLOMBIA, Miss UNITED KINGDOM, Miss VENEZUELA, Miss UNITED STATES, Miss AUSTRALIA and Miss JAMAICA. After the parade, the seven lucky ones posed together for the judges. While tabulating the jury’s decision, singer Helen Reddy entered the scene to perform her song “I Can’t Say Goodbye to You”, which was at the height of popularity at the time in the UK.
Peter Marshall called Julia Morley to the stage again to present the awards and Judith Chalmers to Eric Morley to announce the first winners of the night, the continental queens of beauty. They were Miss UNITED KINGDOM (Queen of Europe), Miss ZIMBABWE (Queen of Africa), Miss AUSTRALIA (Queen of Oceania), Miss JAPAN (Queen of Asia), and Miss VENEZUELA (Queen of America). The five continental queens stepped out from behind the stage and received their trophies from Julia Morley. All of them received a prize of £ 1,000.
Then Eric gave the final results of Miss World 1981 in reverse order, starting with the second runner-up, who turned out to be Miss JAMAICA, Sandra Angela Cunningham (£ 1,000 winner) and the first runner-up, Miss COLOMBIA, Nini Johanna Soto González (with a prize of £ 2,000). Both were crowned by Julia Morley on stage and received their silver trophies. Behind the scenes, Miss Brazil and Miss United States were waiting and, in front of the audience, three of the continental queens still dreamed of the opportunity to be announced as the new world sovereign of beauty.
AND MISS WORLD 1981 IS … MISS VENEZUELA !!. Pilin León, with brown eyes, brown hair and perfect measurements of 36-24-36, tearful and visibly excited, received the congratulations of the other four continental queens and went to the center of the stage, where Kimberly Santos placed the sash and Julia Morley handed her the silver cup. Immediately, Pilin, already seated on her throne, was crowned by her predecessor and received the royal scepter by a page, to later take her triumphal walk as the brand-new Miss World with the rhythm of the official march of the contest. As prizes she received a check for £ 5,000, an employment contract for a minimum of £ 15,000 and an Edelson fur coat valued at £ 7,000. “I feel very happy,” said Pilin León, who wore the same green gown she wore in the Miss Venezuela contest, designed by Osmel Sousa and made by Piera Ferrari. “There are so many pretty girls here and I’m amazed at all of this,” she added. Regarding her boyfriend, she said: “I will write and call him and visit him in Venezuela when I am there, but that is all.” But first, she will face the inevitable year of travel, announcing her beauty and promoting the contest, as well as raising money for charities.
In the audience was Pilin’s mother, Mrs. Cachy, accompanied by Osmel Sousa, who had recently assumed the position of President of the Miss Venezuela Organization after the death of the President of OPPA and Miss Venezuela, Ignacio Font after suffering a heart attack. Shortly before his death, Font had sold the Miss Venezuela pageant to Venevisión. Upon learning of Pilin Leon’s triumph, Osmel, excited, jumped out of his seat and threw his coat over the Zimbabwean directors who were sitting in the front row.
At the Coronation Ball held immediately afterward at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane, all winners received their checks and the other positions were officially named: sixth runner-up (Miss United States), fifth (Miss Australia), fourth (Miss United Kingdom) and the third runner-up (Miss Brazil). All received a prize of £ 500. The remaining semi-finalists who were not continental queens received a check for £ 100 and all the other girls who participated in the event took home a modest £ 50. Organizers said an estimated 150 million people in 33 countries watched the contest through satellite television. In Venezuela it was broadcast on a delayed basis at 9 p.m. on the same day. ITV gained the rating with the transmission of the contest, obtaining a record of 29.9 million viewers in Great Britain. The next morning, the Venezuelan beauty greeted the press while having breakfast in her suite at the Grosvenor House Hotel and said, “I feel wonderfully well. I look forward to my year of reign as Miss World.” “I thought winning the Miss World title would be an impossible dream,” she told the media, still excited. After the press conference, she posed for photos in Hyde Park, thus officially starting her reign. Later, on Saturday, November 14, she inaugurated a Ski Show in London and on Saturday, November 21, she received the visit of her number one fan, Victor Farrán, 20, from the city of Miami, who had become paraplegic after a motorcycle accident . Among her busy activities was the opening of a men’s clothing store on Broad Street on Saturday, November 28, and she was also the first celebrity to turn on Christmas lights on Oxford Street. Her first trip as Miss World was made in early December to the city of Phoenix and the town of Carefree, in Arizona, United States, to fulfill commitments from Americana Holidays, one of the companies sponsoring the contest.
Pilin returned to Venezuela on Saturday, December 5, accompanied by Julia Morley, in a private jet, being received at the Libertador Air Base, in Palo Negro, Aragua and escorted by four planes from the Venezuelan Air Force, which by that time was celebrating its 61st anniversary. A group of parachutists, in synchronized harmony, descended from the skies offering an unforgettable spectacle. One of them was, by the way, who later became President of the country in 1998, Hugo Chávez Frías, who gave the beautiful Pilin a bouquet of flowers. Later, Pilin offered a press conference and then toured the streets of Maracay with Susana Duijm, Miss World 1955. In Plaza Bolívar of Maracay, she was awarded the distinction of Honorary Citizen and received the keys to the city. Later they moved her to Caracas, where in the program “Sábado Sensacional” she was received by Miss Universe, the also Venezuelan Irene Sáez. The country had won that year the two highest titles of world and universal beauty !!. After spending Christmas with her family in Venezuela, Pilin returned to London in January to continue her commitments as Miss World. As world sovereign of beauty, she traveled to Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Colombia, Chile, Brazil, England, Wales, Scotland, the United States, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore. On several of these trips she was able to be accompanied by her mother, Mrs. Cachy de León, while on her tours of Great Britain she was accompanied by chaperone Menai Dillon. Incidentally, Mrs. Cachy was very close to Julia Morley and was a chaperone for Miss World for a long time. Pilin was present at the election of Miss Venezuela 1982 where she placed the sash to her successor Michelle Shoda.
Pilin gave up her crown in London in November 1982 after fulfilling her obligations as Miss World for a year. “The reign was a beautiful experience, but at the same time very complicated, because you have to have a very special character. I, almost at the end, as Miss World, suffered a lot. I wanted to be at home eating arepas and as much as I wanted, that moment comes when you are overwhelmed by that commitment”, Pilin recalled. Despite her constant travels, she maintained her relationship with the love of her life, Teodoro Ramón Pérez Farías. “Love was always alive. During the reign, in London, I called him every day on his home phone, because at that time there was no cell phone or Internet. He endured everything, because I traveled all year,” she remembered.
BIOGRAPHY OF PILIN LEÓN.-
Carmen Josefina León Crespo was born in Maracay, Aragua State (Venezuela), on May 19, 1963. Daughter of Alfredo de Jesús León Arenas († 1984) and Carmen Josefina “Cachy” Crespo Lanz de León. From a very young age they knew her as “Pilin”, a nickname given to her by her grandmother. She has a brother named Alfredo Jesús known as “el Gordo”. As a child she felt like the “ugly duckling” of the family. Pilin studied at the Agustín Codazzi high school in Maracay and at seventeen she was discovered by Josefina Torres who encouraged her to enter the Miss Venezuela 1981 contest as Miss Aragua, being one of the favorites. In that pageant she achieved the distinction of first runner-up, with the honor of going to Miss World. Pilin first traveled to the city of Miami and from there to London where on November 12 of that year she achieved the second Miss World crown for Venezuela. After her triumph, she was received apotheosically in her country and traveled a lot as a world beauty queen, working for the most needy children. After handing over her crown, Pilin returned to Venezuela where she formed an event promoter company called “Pilin León Producciones C.A.”. In 1984 she participated in the finals of Miss Venezuela riding on an elephant. She married by civilian on July 25 and by the church on July 26, 1985 with her longtime boyfriend, Civil Engineer Teodoro Pérez. She became the mother of three young men: Andrés Ricardo (1986, Civil Engineer), Andrés Ignacio (1988, International Relations and International Trade in Bogotá), and Andrés Alfredo (1991, Systems Engineering). She was a judge in the editions of Miss World in 1987, 1998 and 2002 and in Mister World in 2014. Unfortunately, she does not keep her green gown because once, a problem with pipes in her house damaged the gown, which was kept in a closet, so she had to throw it away.
During the political events in Venezuela in 2002, Pilin León reappeared in the public arena for declaring herself an opponent of the government of Hugo Chávez Frías. She took the opportunity to criticize the suitability of the president of her country when the media sought her reaction regarding Chávez’s decision to remove the names of four Venezuelan ships that had been baptized with the names of four misses, including the ‘Pilín León ‘. One of those tankers owned by PDV-MARINA with her name was kidnapped by the crew opposing President Chávez. This declared in rebellion and anchored the ship in the Lake Maracaibo navigation channel during the 2002-2003 oil strike. “The ‘Pilín León’ was the flagship of the oil strike that was taken by force by the government that took the crew prisoner, a fact that served as a platform for me to establish my position of what was happening in my country and which almost nobody believed at the time”, Pilin León later explained. The ship, after the controversy that arose around it, changed its name to Negra Hipólita. Due to all this painful political situation, she went to live in the neighboring country of Colombia in 2009, after her husband’s company managed to connect with businessmen from that country to continue their business.
She currently resides in the city of Barranquilla, where she is part of the large Venezuelan community that lives in the city, and writes a weekly column in the El Heraldo newspaper. She created the “Fundación Venezolanos en Barranquilla”, along with other Venezuelans, who later found its fundamental reason for being: that of helping the countrymen in an unprecedented exodus that in those days reached its highest magnitude. The foundation began working in informal settlements of Venezuelans in the Simón Bolívar neighborhoods, between Barranquilla and Soledad (Atlántico) and in La Playa, township of the Atlantic capital. “In Barranquilla I feel at home, because I have found friends, many of them Venezuelans who also settled in that city in search of well-being and to carry out projects,” said Pilin. She opened the blog Chronicles of an aspiring writer, where she expresses her feelings as a Venezuelan in a free and casual way. Her oldest son, Andrés Ricardo, made her, in June 2016, the grandmother of the beautiful girl Paulina Isabel. Her second son Andrés Ignacio married in 2017 in Colombia. With regard to her social work, which has given her so much pride and satisfaction in Barranquilla, she said that “Venezuelan children have been admitted to public schools and also given medical aid. Much progress has been made, but much remains to be done, especially since the country, as it is, despite progress in its freedom, it may take a long time to recover. In Venezuela we lost everything, even dignity, so we must think of self-sustaining strategies to release the burdens on local governments”, concluded Pilín León. She recently acquired Colombian citizenship.
FROM THE OTHER CONTESTANTS.-
Miss Ireland, Miss Spain and Miss United Kingdom (representing Wales) unsuccessfully participated in Miss Universe 1982 in Lima, Peru. The Irish, the Norwegian and the Spanish girls also competed in Miss Europe in 1982, where the latter was 2nd runner-up. The Dominican woman competed in the International Coffee Queen contest in 1982 and Miss Cyprus in Maja International of that year as the representative of Greece. Miss Brazil was 1st runner-up in Miss Young International 1983 and in the World’s Most Beautiful Girl contest in 1985. She also participated in the Queen of the World 1990. Meanwhile, the Costa Rican delegate was 1st runner-up of Mrs World 1985 and Miss Peru participated in that same contest in 2009. Olga Zumarán from Peru began her acting career in 2002 joining the main cast of the series “Mil Oficios”. In 2004 she appeared in the series “Así es la vida” in América Televisión. In 2010 she had a short participation in the series “Al fondo hay sitio”. In 2012 she returned as a radio announcer with the magazine “In private with Olga”. Since 2018 she is the host of the National Radio program “What to do”. Colombian Nini Soto lives alone in Bogotá, had no children and was a candidate for Senator in her country. Australian Melissah Hannan stood out as a model, singer, actress, and television presenter. Miss Austria is now known as Beatrice Bilgeri (married to Austrian musician Reinhold Bilgeri) and is a recognized actress. Miss Argentina returned to her country and worked on television as one of the driver’s staff secretaries Sergio Velasco Ferrero and also acted in a teletheater with actor Arturo Bonin. Miss Mexico married and continued her law studies. She is the mother of American football star Manuel Padilla. She is a happy grandmother and remains very active on social networks. Miss Belgium got married, is a housewife and lives in Steenkerque, also active on social networks like Miss Gibraltar, who is now Mrs. Cassaglia and continues to live in the famous Rock. Miss Honduras, now blonde, is married and lives in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Miss Ecuador dedicated herself to cooking and set up the restaurant “Lucía, pie house and grill” in Quito. Miss India became a model and actress and has received awards for her talent in Indian dance.
Thanks to Donald West, Daryl Schabinger, Neil Craig, Junior Zelaya, Pilin León, Doris Pontvianne, Yvette Bellido-Cassaglia, Carlos Cepeda, Henrique Fontes, Mario Jérez, Michael Knittel, Jimmy Steele, Lucho Ortega, Mills Aldorino, Toni Hidalgo, Humberto Acevedo, Andrés Carmona, Roberto Macedo, Expediente Miss, Paraiso de Reinas, Verosímiles, RetroMiss, Neida Añez, Miss Holland Now and Glamour Argentino.