21st place – Margareta Arvidsson (Sweden)
(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)
Going into its 15th edition, Miss Universe came up with a few innovations in 1966, like for instance, the announcement of the “top 15″ during the final broadcast, instead of at the preliminaries night, as it had been happening since 1952. It was also the first time the show was telecast in colors for the US audience.
Before arriving in Miami Beach, the Latin American candidates, Miss USA, and Miss Universe 1965, Apasra Hongsakula of Thailand, attended the Miss Brazil pageant, in Rio de Janeiro. Both Apasra and Maria Judith Remenyi (Miss USA) enchanted the Brazilian crowd when they spoke to them in Portuguese.
In the 1960’s, the Miss Universe Pageant considered Miss Brazil to be the best organized and produced national pageant in the world, and the Brazilian press the one which followed Miss Universe with most attention and details. The Brazilian magazines and papers, such as Manchete and Cruzeiro, remain the main source of information and photos of Miss Universe from the early 1950’s to the 1970’s. And the Brazilian press widely supported Miss Guanabara, Ana Cristina Ridzi, during her national pageant. She was crowned Miss Brazil 1966.
Ana Cristina had defeated her twin sister in Miss Guanabara, and just like Miss USA 1966, her parents were from Hungary. Both immediately became good friends, and were favorites to be among Miss Universe’s Top 5 that year.
From Rio, they all traveled to New York, where they were joined by the European and Middle Eastern delegates. After attending a few activities in the Big Apple, they took a bus to Miami, stopping by in a couple of cities, like Washington D.C..
58 candidates competed for the crown. Guam was the only debut that year. Guyana participated for the first time as an independent country (before it was British Guyana) and Trinidad & Tobago had already competed as “Miss Trinidad”.
Since the very beginning Margareta Arvidsson of Sweden was a standout and major favorite for the crown. Not only she was very beautiful, but her wardrobe, very colorful and chic, represented the latest fashion tendencies in Europe. The other favorites were Misses Finland, Brazil, Switzerland, Israel, and Germany. Although Miss Thailand had been noticed for her beauty, few people believed in a back-to-back victory, so Miss Japan, who looked like a doll and was very fashionable, was considered the front-runner from Asia.
Miss Israel, Aviva Israeli, was described by press journalists covering the pageant as “magnetic”. She spoke 7 languages and was very elegant and charismatic. Wearing a Biblical costume, she won the Best National Costume award.
Miss Germany was another “press dear”. Looking like a supermodel, and with huge breast, she was appointed as a shoo-in for the final 5. Another stunner was Miss Finland, Satu Ostring, who conquered many fans with her perfect looks and discrete profile.
During the open car parade, at Flager Street, the most applauded national representatives were Misses USA, Colombia, Free Cuba, Brazil, Israel, Sweden, and Finland.
Madeline Hartog-Bel of Peru, was the most elegant beauty among the Latin American candidates. The experience she acquired in Miss Universe, certainly helped her conquering the Miss World title, one year later, in London. Miss Colombia’s elegance and poise were also often commented by the press.
Miss Brazil’s twin sister arrived in Miami a few days before the final event. When they decided to appear wearing equal dresses, the photographers jumped on them, and in the next day they were on the cover of all local newspapers.
Confirming her favoritism, Miss Sweden was chosen was Miss Photogenic.
On July 16, the Miami Beach Auditorium was crowded with thousands of people who wanted to see from a close distance the election of Miss Universe 1966. After the parade of nations, in which the contestants appeared individually, without saying a word, the Top 15 were announced, and they were:
Thailand, Holland, Peru, Denmark, U.S.A., India, Philippines, Finland, Sweden, Israel, Spain, Colombia, Norway, England and Germany.
The exclusion of Misses Brazil and Japan caused indignation and loud protests by the crowd. Misses Switzerland and Turkey were also ‘big misses’, expected to place instead of Holland, Denmark and Philippines (whose evening gown was considered the ugliest and was very criticized by the press).
Miss USA, although very beautiful, did not shine in the semi-final competitions. Miss Israel was once again “very magnetic”, being one of the most applauded girls of the night. Misses Thailand and Peru showed a lot of elegance on stage, but without a doubt, the candidates from Sweden and Finland were the ones battling out for the crown.
There was a tie in the election of Miss Amity, and Misses Spain and Curaçao had to fight for the trophy!
After some delay, because there was also a tie when the Top 5 were being chosen, the finalists were announced: three beauties from Asia – Israel, Thailand, and surprising India, and two Nordic stunners, the big favorites from Sweden and Finland.
Like her predecessor, Miss Thailand, Cheranand Savetanand, had also been prepared by her country’s queen to compete in Miss Universe. And once again, Thailand did really well in the competition.
The final results were: Miss Israel finished in 5th place; Miss India was 4th; Miss Thailand was 3rd. As expected, Finland or Sweden would walk way with the crown! Miss Finland was 2nd, and the #1 favorite for the crown, Margareta Arvidsson of Sweden, was Miss Universe 1966.
Before the final night, Miss Sweden had declared that she did not want to win, because she could not picture herself during a whole year in a jail, going everywhere accompanied by a chaperon. When she won, Margareta cried more of despair than emotion, supposedly saying that she just wanted to go home. When she
sat on her throne, Miss Finland, the first runner-up, approached her and whispered on her ear: “If you don’t want it, I do. So decided it, because I came here to win”. From that moment on, the new Miss Universe decided she was going to keep the title.
Next morning, when asked about it by the press, the new Miss Universe said she could not remember anything, and that she was ready to play her role.
Her chaperone during that year, Anamaria Cumba, who wrote the book The World of Miss Universe, spoke very highly of Arvidsson, who ended up being a superb Miss Universe. After crowning her successor, she became a Ford model and was one of the world’s most requested supermodels during many years.
MOST BEAUTIFUL MISS UNIVERSE FROM THE 1960’s
Special thanks to Alberto Dubal!