24th place – Shawn Weatherly (USA)
(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 1980 was held at Sejong Cultural Center, Seoul, South Korea, on July 8, 1980. It was a beautifully produced edition of Miss Universe, in which 69 candidates competed for the title. Cayman Islands (chosen as Miss Congeniality) and Turks & Caicos participated for the first time.
Before landing in Seoul, a group of candidates traveled to Colombia, where they attended the Universal Meeting of Beauty and Fashion. The contestants from Colombia, USA, México, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay, visited the cities of Barranquilla, Cucuta, Cali, Medellin, and Bogota. During the 10 days they spent in Colombia, the participating Miss Universe delegates raised funds to help the local needy ones, especially children.
From Bogota, they all traveled to Los Angeles, and finally to Seoul, where they met the other candidates. Miss Universe 1980 then kicked off!
The 69 beauties toured Korea during three weeks. In Seoul, they stayed at the luxurious Shilla Hotel. Sponsored by the Hankook Ilbo e Korea Times newspapers, Korean Air Lines, and the Korean National Tourism Corporation, the 29th edition of Miss Universe was the 3rd one held in Asia: the other two had happened in the Philippines (1974), and Hong Kong (1976).
The local organizers wanted to show Korea to the rest of the world and to prove that Seoul could organize great international events, after all, it was bidding to host the 1988 Olympic Games. It might have helped: one year later Seoul was chosen and officially announced as the host city of the 1988 Olympic Games, beating Nagoya, in Japan.
Three weeks of preliminary events included a spectacular parade down the main thoroughfare of Seoul, aboard flowered “Kotcha” floats, each decorated with the round “Taeguk” symbol of eternity. One million people lined the streets to cheer the ladies. One of the most enthusiastic fans was Colombian Ambassador, Dr. Virgilio Olano, who was so taken by the beauty of his country’s representative, Maria Patricia Arbelaez, that he drove beside her float in his Mercedes-Benz the entire length of the parade.
Among the most popular delegates in the parade were Australia’s Katrina Redina, a big hit in her teeny-tiny silver lame bikini, which was supposed to be her national costume; press-favorite Delyse Nottle, impersonating Captain Cook; Korea’s own Kim Eun-jung; and Germany’s Kathrin Gloetzi who periodically clicked her heels and saluted the crowd, following on the theme of her costume – a mini-skirted military uniform.
The competition evenings of the pageant featured the fastest-paced Parade of Nations on record. The girls were instructed to introduce themselves with only their name and country. Things became unglued during the finals, when Bolivia’s Carmen Pereira jumped the gun ahead of Bermuda, messing up the alphabetical order.
One of the big favorites of the press and public, from the very beginning, was New Zealand’s stunning Delyse Nottle, who won the Miss Photogenic trophy, in addition to making the top five. When queried by reporters to explain her beauty secrets that led to the Photogenic trophy, the none-too-shy Delyse sweetly chirped, “My shining blue eyes, my smile, and the curves on my chest are another attractive point.”
The Korea Times reported that Miss Australia, Katrina Rendina, lost the Photogenic prize by only one photographer’s vote.
The Korea Times revealed one of pageant emcee Bob Barker’s tricks in getting through the semifinalist interviews. During the commercial break immediately preceding the first set of interviews, Bob instructed the audience to laugh whenever he touched his left ear. Said Bob, “This is known as the Old Korean Left Ear Trick.”
Going into the finals, local newspapers reported that the Misses New Zealand (Ms. Nottle), Australia (Ms. Rendina), USA (Shaewn Weatherly), Tahiti (Tilda Fuller) and Philippines (Maria del Rosario Silayan) were the most favored to win the crown, among beauty experts and international visitors. All made the semi-finals except for Australia.
Other delegates considered favorites by locals were Venezuela, Tahiti, Iceland, and Canada.
Miss USA, Shawn Weatherly, had a very special group of people cheering for her and making some big noise in the audience: 29 girls she had defeated in the Miss USA contest! They were all invited by Korean organizers to attend the pageant in Seoul.
Although the Korean government was far from being democratic in those days, it was openly against Apartheid, and refused to issue visas to 4 candidates: Misses South Africa, Namibia, Transkei and Bophuthatswana. However, Margaret Gardiner, Miss Universe 1978 from South Africa, was a judge. Go figure…
Koreans invested over USD 3 million in production, a true fortune in those days. The enormous stage looked magnificent, showing different aspects of the Korean culture. The Miss Universe Pageant lived great times in those years, with high tv ratings, millions of USD in sponsorship coming in, and considerable international press interest. Harold Glasser, president of Miss Universe, was so enthusiastic that he believed in a couple of years from then, Beijing would host Miss Universe. That is something that hasn’t happened yet…
Donny Osmond sang for the candidates, the lovely Helen O’Connell, dressed in a Korean traditional costume, was a special commentator for the last time, next to Jayne Kennedy, who also reviewed the judges’ scores.
Something curious about Miss Universe 1980: only half of the girls who placed among the top 12 in the swimsuit preliminary competition, advanced to the semi-finals.
The top 12 in swimsuits were: USA, New Zealand, Scotland, Canada, Iceland, Argentina, Brazil, Ireland, Tahiti, Germany, Holland, and England.
The semi-finalists were: USA, New Zealand, Scotland, Canada, Philippines, Iceland, Puerto Rico, Sweden, Tahiti, Colombia, Korea, and Panama.
Among the ones who did not make the cut, the biggest shock was Miss Australia, who next to Misses USA and New Zealand, was considered a front-runner for the title. No African beauty became a semi-finalist, and Miss Panama was the only black candidate in the group. Venezuela, the country that had the previous year’s winner, also stayed out. Miss Wales would become Miss UK World, and was the 4th runner-up in Miss World 1980.
The top 5 were Misses USA, New Zealand, Philippines, Scotland, and a surprising Miss Sweden. Miss Canada missed the cut by very little.
The international press commented disfavorably on the poor quality of the on-stage translators during the finals. At least two of the twelve semifinalists suffered poor interviews with Bob Barker due to the shoddy translations. For example, Bob asked Colombia’s Maria Patricia Arbelaez what she planned to do if she won the crown. The translator simply asked the girl, “What do you want to do?” and the girl’s answer related to a different period in time – in the distant future. Similarly, Miss Korea’s answer to Bob’s question about matchmaking was very diplomatic, yet the interpreter gave a very brusque and rude answer in English.
Miss Universe and her first runner-up (Scotland’s Linda Gallagher) were roomates throughout the pageant. In an interview with the Korea Times, their chaperone, Hedy Yun revealed that both misses were very sociable and warm-hearted. Nonetheless, Linda of Scotland became rather upset when Miss USA’s beaded designer gown arrived and she had nothing comparable to wear. The chaperone placed a phone call to Korea’s top designer, Andre Kim, who happily allowed the Scottish lass to wear one of his sequined gowns for the finals.
In the end, Miss Sweden finished in 5th, Miss Philippines in 4th, hot-favorite Miss New Zealand in 3rd, Miss Scotland in 2nd place, and Miss USA, Shawn Weatherly, won a 5th Miss Universe title for her country. She actually got the highest scores, by a large margin, in all stages of the competition. It was a well-deserved victory.
During her morning-after interview, Shawn said, “My job is not the exhibition of my body. Talking with people and making friends in all nations is my main duty.” Her goal, at the time, was to become a sports commentator, following completion of a communications degree at Clemson University. Ironically, her career following her reign was not that of sports commentator but, instead, an actress who exhibited her famous body many times in the popular television series “Baywatch.” She also starred in the 1980’s blockbuster movie Police Academy.
Among the 7 American Miss Universe titleholders, Shawn ranks as #1.
She currently resides in Newport Beach, California, with her husband, Chip Harris, and their two children, Jack and Jessie.
On a sad note, Miss Philippines, Maria Rosario Silayan, one of the most elegant candidates that country ever sent to compete in Miss Universe, died of colon cancer in 2006. Miss Venezuela, Maye Brandt, committed suicide in 1982.
(Special thanks to Alberto Dubal and Beauty School!)
MOST BEAUTIFUL MISS UNIVERSE FROM NORTH & CENTRAL AMERICA 1952-2010