4th place – Angela Visser, Netherlands
(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)
The last time GB promoted this competition, a decade ago, Angela Visser, the Dutch Miss Universe from 1989, was the winner. She was also the winner of “The Best Miss Universe Ever”, which happened in 1999. Now Angela falls to 4th place, although with a considerable point-different to Margaret Gardiner, 5th place and next in the ranking. She also managed to keep the #1 position among the winners from the XX century.
Before living moments of glory in Cancun, Mexico, where Miss Universe 1989 took place, Visser missed the cut in Miss World 1988: she finished the competition in 13th place, in a year Miss World had just 10 semi-finalists.
Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico, was becoming famous internationally for its beautiful beaches and great resorts, when it welcomed the 1989 Miss Universe pageant. Held at the Fiesta Americana Condessa Hotel, Miss U happened in one of the smallest stages and had one of its poorest productions in history.
The hosts’ performances (John Forsythe, Emma Sammsand and Karen Baldwin) were way below average, to the point that Karen had to take over John’s job in interviewing the semi-finalists, given the fact that he looked completely lost on stage. To compensate it, the externals were very good, showcasing the beauties and colors of Cancun and Mexico.
Seventy-six countries participated, who for the first time in history were introduced divided into geographical regions in the parade of nations. The American organization made one huge mistake, by including Iceland in Central and North America! The Icelandic beauty, Guðbjörg Gissurardóttir, had been a semi-finalist in Miss International 1988. Preliminary swimsuit scores were also not shown to the viewers at home for the first time since 1979.
As soon as they arrived in Mexico, there were bad news for Miss France, Stephanie Zlotkowski: she was not allowed to register in the pageant for being underage, and was sent back home the next morning. She was replaced by Miss France’s 1st runner-up, Pascale Moetti, who arrived soon after Stephanie’s departure.
Miss Germany, Andrea Steltzer, had been crowned Miss South Africa 1985, when Miss Universe stopped accepting South African candidates in protest to Apartheid. As Miss Germany, Andrea finally got to compete in Miss Universe.
Juliette Powell was the first black woman (and so far only) to win the Miss Universe Canada title.
Misses Holland, Ireland, Poland, Gibraltar, and Switzerland, had all failed to advance to Miss World semi-finals one year earlier.
Some of the favorites that year were Misses USA, Gretchen Polhemus (the 5th consecutive Miss USA winner from the state of Texas), Germany, Andrea Steltzer, Holland, Angela Visser, Mexico, Adriana Abascal, Spain, Eva Pedraza, Norway, Lene Ornhoft, Puerto Rico, Catalina Villa, Australia, Karen Wenden (Miss Photogenic), Jamaica, Sandra Foster, Korea, Sung-young Kim, Brazil, Flavia Cavalcanti (Best National Costume), Sweden, Louise Drevenstam, Switzerland, Karina Berger, Ireland, Collette Jackson, and Israel, Nicole Halperin.
Europe had the strongest group of candidates, and most thought only Miss USA could take the title away from the Old Continent that year.
Although during the live telecast it was announced that St. Vincent & the Grenadines was debuting in Miss U that year, the information was not correct. The Caribbean nation had already competed in 1964, 1978 and 1979 as St. Vincent.
Right before the top 10 announcement, scenes of a historical moment could be viewed by the 300 million people watching the pageant: the crowning of the first Miss USSR, days before Miss Universe’s final. The winner, who wasn’t crowned in time to compete in Miss Universe, wished all the contestants good luck, and said she hoped in the near future Miss Universe would be hosted by the Soviet Union (which has never happened).
Then the top 10 were announced, and they were: Germany, Chile, Jamaica, Venezuela, Holland, USA, Sweden, Poland, Finland, and Mexico. As predicted, the Latin beauties did not come across strong in Mexico, and both Chile and Venezuela were considered “surprises”. Five Europeans were also fighting for the crown, and in addition to the two South Americans, one Caribbean and Miss USA also moved on. Asia, Africa, and Oceania, were all left behind.
As the three semi-final competitions progressed, Holland’s Angela Visser became the clear #1 choice for the crown, topping all of them with the highest combined scores, always followed by Miss Sweden, Louise Drevenstam, in 2nd.
Osmel Souza, the famous national director of Miss Venezuela, said the moment he first saw Angela in Cancun, that she was going to become Miss Universe. “She was the most beautiful one, no doubts”.
In addition to Holland and Sweden, Poland, Mexico, and USA, who almost missed the cut in a neck-and-neck dispute with Miss Germany, advanced to the ‘top 5′. There was no ‘final question’ that year, so the judges had to rank the Top 5 from #1 to #5, and the combination of such votes, would result in the election of the last Miss Universe of the 1980’s.
Miss Mexico was 5th, Miss Poland was 4th (she had also competed in Miss World 1988, and was not even a semi-finalist), Miss USA was 3rd, Miss Sweden was 2nd, and the odds maker from Holland, Angela Visser, had just gone from a Miss World reject to Miss Universe 1989! The results were greatly accepted by the international community, and Angela was a superb titleholder.
Angela Visser became a TV presenter (she was an excellent Miss Universe commentator from 1991 to 1994) and actress, who appeared in some of America’s hottest TV Shows, such as Blossom, Boy Meets World, Baywatch, Beverly Hills 90210, Friends and USA High. She remains the only woman from the Netherlands to have been crowned Miss Universe.
MISS UNIVERSE 1989 – ANGELA VISSER
MOST BEAUTIFUL MISS UNIVERSE FROM THE 1980’s
MOST BEAUTIFUL MISS UNIVERSE FROM EUROPE
The Top 3: 2002-Oxana, 2004, 2008
See great photos from Miss Universe 1989 at El Anecdotario