17th place – Barbara Palacios Teyde, Venezuela
(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)
Miss Universe 1986 was held at the ATLAPA Convention Center, Panama City, Panama. Panama had been bidding to host the pageant since 1983, and when it finally happened, it was in great style: Miss Universe 1986 is considered by many pageant followers to be one of the best Miss U editions, if not the best, in 60 years.
Before going to Panama, all South American delegates traveled to Caracas, where they competed for the Miss South America title, a “thermometer” for Miss Universe. Miss Venezuela, Barbara Palacios Teyde was the winner, with Miss Colombia, Maria Monica Urbina, finishing in 2nd place, and Miss Brazil, Deise Nunes de Souza, the only black woman to have been crowned Miss Brazil Universe, was 3rd. All three arrived in Panama City as favorites.
Seventy-seven candidates competed in what was probably the best group of candidates in the 1980’s. Not even the “pittoresque” ones, so common in the 80’s batches, showed up in Panama. The 78th candidate, Miss Yugoslavia, was sent back home in the first week of competition, when organizers found out she was 17 years old.
Although the three above mentioned South American stunners were highly favored by the local and the international press covering the pageant, it was Christy Fichtner, Miss USA, who was considered to be “the one to beat”.
Other favorites were Misses Holland, Caroline Veldkamp, New Zealand, Christine Atkinson, Australia, Christina Lucinda Bucat, Finland, Tuula Irmeli Polvi, Norway, Tone Henriksen, Reunion, Geneviève Lebon, and Italy, Susanna Huckstep (chosen as Miss Photogenic).
From Asia, it was Miss India, Mehr Jessia, who was expected to do something in the pageant. She became a successful international model afterwards. Africa had two strong contenders: the statuesque and very tall Miss Zaire, Aimee Likobe Dobala (who after the pageant became a famous runway model in Paris), and Marie Françoise Kouame, Cote d’Ivoire’s first and only candidate in Miss Universe history.
From the Caribbean, it was Miss U.S. Virgin Islands, Jasmine Olivia Turner, who shined brighter in the preliminary competition. Miss Spain, Concha Espinoza, was very popular among the Panamanians.
It was the last time that Zaire, Papua New Guinea, Gambia, Reunion and Western Samoa participated in Miss U.
Helena Christensen, Miss Denmark, was never a favorite in Panama City. However, not long after the pageant her modeling career would take off, and she remains the only supermodel ever revealed by Miss Universe.
With a sensational opening number, with the 77 beauties singing “we are heading to the future” on a fabulous stage, Miss Universe 1986 started.
Something curious happened during the parade of nations: Miss Philippines, Violeta Naluz, made reference to the “People Power”, a series of popular demonstrations in the Philippines that occurred in 1983-86, when introducing herself. Because of such political statement, from 1987 on, the parade of nations would be pre-recorded.
The 77 candidates also appeared wearing Catalina swimsuits in some of Panama’s most spectacular landscapes. Their swimsuit preliminary scores could be seen by the audience at home, and the 10 women who scored the highest were:
USA, Venezuela, Finland, Holland, Zaire, Italy, Poland, Norway, Reunion, and Spain. Only half of them, however, would advance to the semi-finals.
The top 10 were announced by host Bob Barker, and they were:
Brazil, Colombia, Puerto Rico, USA, Zaire, Switzerland, Venezuela, Poland, Finland, and Chile.
Miss USA had the highest preliminary score, followed by Misses Venezuela (2nd), and Finland (3rd). The surprises were Chile, Poland, and mostly, Puerto Rico, who took the places of favorites such as Holland, Italy, and India, among many others.
The hometown girl, Panama’s Gilda García López, never a favorite, not even for the local press, did not advance, as expected. She won the Best National Costume award. Miss Guam, Dina Ann Reyes Salas, was voted Miss Congeniality.
Miss Switzerland, Eveline Nicole Glanzmann, another very tall delegate, was no surprise: in 1985 she had been a Top7-finalist in Miss World, in London.
Some of the Top 10 interviews with Bob Barker were memorable, like Miss Zaire’s “manioc”, and Miss Venezuela ending hers by saying the promotional slogan created by Panama’s Tourism Board, “Mi Nombre es Panama“, or “My Name is Panama”. That was probably the moment when Miss Venezuela took an edge over the other contestants, even the very strong Miss USA.
A visibly nervous Miss Brazil, on the other hand, failed to cause a great impression on the judges with her interview, making room for the surprising Miss Poland.
Miss USA took the lead in swimsuit, but the very classy and elegant Miss Venezuela returned to the top in the evening gown competition.
The top 5 were Misses Colombia, Venezuela, Poland, USA, and Finland. Miss Poland, the opera singer Brygida Elzbieta Bziukiewicz, was the big upset of the night, beating all odds to become a finalist. Miss Brazil, one of the favorites, stayed behind, in 6th place.
No final question was asked in 1986, so the judges were told to ranked the 5 finalists based on their overall impressions on them throughout the competition.
Miss Finland was announced as 4th runner-up; Miss Poland was the 3rd runner-up; Miss Colombia finished as 2nd runner-up. Miss Universe would either be the gorgeous blond from Texas, Miss USA, or the very elegant and intelligent Miss Venezuela.
The 1st runner-up was Miss USA, and Barbara Palacios Teyde was Venezuela’s 3rd Miss Universe in just 8 years!
Christy Fichtner, Miss USA, did not take her defeat easily. Very mad, she left Panama early in the morning the next day on a private jet.
Barbara Palacios Teyde, a Spaniard raised in Venezuela with dual citizenship, born in Madrid, in 1963, was the daughter of actor Jorge Palacios and Bárbara Teyde, a Spanish actress.
Palacios has worked as a television host for over two decades, and has been a spokesperson for multinational corporations in the United States and Latin America. She has founded several advertising agencies, and as of 2010 owns the Barbara Palacios Corporation, a U.S.-based company that commercializes women products, with lines of jewelry and beauty products sold in stores under her name in Florida, United States. The Barbara Palacios Casual line of products is distributed in several Latin American countries.
In 1992, Barbara suffered a serious car accident in Madrid, in which 3 people died. She miraculously survived it for being wearing a safety belt.
Teyde has been married since the late 1980’s and has two kids. She has always been a kind, articulate and very charismatic Miss Universe, in addition to being extremely beautiful, even today.
BARBARA PALACIOS TEYDE
MOST BEAUTIFUL MISS UNIVERSE FROM SOUTH AMERICA (1952-2010)
MOST BEAUTIFUL MISS UNIVERSE FROM THE 1980’s (1952-2010)
Special thanks to Alberto Dubal!
(still competing: 1953, 1961, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1987, 1989, 2000, 2001, 2002-dethroned Oxana, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010)