54th place – Georgina Rizk (Lebanon)
(Our judges are: Greg Borowski, Willian Prendiz de Jurado, Edwin Toledo (Times of Beauty), Ricardo Guiraldes (Chilean Charm), Julio Rodriguez (Belleza Venezolana), Alberto Dubal (Miss Memorabilia), Jimmy Harris (Beauty School), Pepe Medel, Jean-Marie Vandecasteele, Andre Sleigh, Rose Foulger, Luis Trujillo. From GB, Ed Dominguez, Henrique Fontes, and Chris Kuntz)
1971 was the last of the Miami Beach years, after that, Miss Universe would take on the world, being held in different countries every year, mostly in Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia. To close the “Miami Beach era”, the Middle East elected its first Miss Universe, Lebanon’s Georgina Rizk.
Georgina had competed in Miss World 1970 and failed to advance to the semi-finals, so the press covering Miss Universe did not pay much attention to her in the beginning, favoring the candidates from France, Finland, Brazil, Israel and Philippines. The latest one, chosen as Miss Photogenic, surprisingly was not even a semi-finalist. Other press favorites who stayed behind were Colombia and Portugal. Both were expected to advance, but failed to do so.
Speaking of surprises, there were a few good ones among the candidates who did make the cut, like the lovely Cherrie Raphaelia Creque, Miss Virgin Islands, or yet another beautiful Caribbean, Beba Franco, coming from the country which had won the title one year earlier, Puerto Rico.
After a great swimsuit presentation, Miss Lebanon was even more impressive and daring in the evening gown parade, when she hit the stage wearing a very revealing top and hot pants. She made an unforgettable fashion statement and bagged the Miss Universe crown, the first (and so far only) won by Lebanon, and the 4th won by an Asian beauty.
The other finalists were Australia, Tony Suzanne Rayward (1st runner-up), Finland, Pirjo Aino Laitila (2nd) Irene Laitila, Puerto Rico, Beba Franco (3rd), and Brazil, Eliane Parreira Guimarães (4th ). The exclusion of Miss France from the “top 5” was widely commented by the press and people in general, after all, she was considered by many the #1 front-runner for the crown that year.
Never before a Miss Universe needed so much security to attend her activities, but Georgina did a good job fulfilling her duties. However, after a few months she put on some considerable weight, making headlines around the world.
In the 1972 Miss Universe pageant in Dorado, Puerto Rico, Rizk was not allowed to crown her successor due to government restrictions because of fears of a terrorist attack. Such fears were triggered when, two months prior to the pageant, bombings occurred outside the hotel in which Miss USA, Tanya Wilson, was then staying. In addition, a group of Japanese hired by Arab terrorists, attacked the international airport in Tel Aviv and killed twenty-two Puerto Rican tourists. The Puerto Ricans were en route to the Holy Land when the massacre occurred. Lebanon did not compete in 1972 and Georgina could not be there to crown Miss Universe 1972.
She was married in 1976 to Ali Hassan Salameh, a Palestinian national with Black September, who was assassinated in 1979 by the Mossad. Georgina Rizk is currently married to renowned Lebanese singer Walid Toufic, with whom she has two children.