6th place – Lara Dutta – Miss Universe 2000

6th place – Lara Dutta, India

(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 2000, the first of the new millennium,  was held at Eleftheria Stadium, in Nicosia, Cyprus.  79 delegates competed in a show hosted by Sinbad, with comments by Ali Landry and Julie Moran.  Being the mythological birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty, and alluding to the Judgement of Paris, the organizers presented a golden apple as a prize to the pageant’s winner.


The final competition at the Eleftheria Stadium featured a stage set reproducing the ancient Curium Amphitheatre. Elvis Crespo, Montell Jordan, saxophonist David Koz and Cypriot international star Anna Vissi performed during the live telecast. The event started at 4 AM in Cyprus so that it could be televised live during the prime-time viewing period in the United States.

Political tension marked the pageant: Turkey did not send a delegate, the Lebanese and Israeli delegates refused to speak to each other, and Corrinne Crewe of Zimbabwe had to deal with the threat of escalating violence in her country. There were also protests from religious and feminist groups on the island who claimed the event was un-Christianand an affront to women.

Top 10 in gown

Miss India, Lara Dutta, was always considered  “the one to beat”. Her beauty, intelligence and charisma shinned throughout the competition. Other favorites were Spain, Helen Lindes, Colombia, Catalina Acosta, South Africa, Heather Hamilton, Australia, Samantha Frost, Panama, Analia Nunez, Czech Republic, Jutka Kucorova, Israel, Nirit Bakshi, Namibia, Mia de Klerk, and Francia, Sonia Rolland.

The semi-finalists were Colombia, Spain, Venezuela, Estonia, France, Zimbabwe, Canada, USA, India, and South Africa. Miss Venezuela, Claudia Moreno, who many doubted would reach the next round of competition, was the surprise of the night: with a magnificent performance, she placed 2nd. Estonia, Evelyn Mikomagi, was another pleasant surprise. She was chosen by GB as the Sexiest Woman Alive for the year 2000.

Winning moment

The top 5 had India, Spain, Venezuela, Canada and USA. Many thought Canada and USA had gone too far, and should’ve been replaced by Colombia and France.

Spain was 3rd, Venezuela 2nd, wowever, the winner could be no other than India’s Lara Dutta. Her elegance, stunning face and incredible answers took her easily all the way to the top. As a matter of fact, that same year, Miss India World, Priyanka Chopra, was also crowned Miss World 2000.

Lara became a famous Bollywood actress. She got married on February 2010, and earlier this month she announced that she is expecting her first child.


 The top 5: 1978, 1989, 2002-Oxana, 2004, 2008

Miss U 2000 Lara Dutta in Cyprus

Top 3: Venezuela (2nd), India (1st), Spain (3rd)

Lara Dutta: India's 2nd Miss Universe


7th place – Christiane Martel – Miss Universe 1953

7th place – Christiane Martel, France

(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)

1953 candidates

The 2nd edition of Miss Universe happened on July 17, 1953, in Long Beach, California, USA. 26 countries competed, 4 less than in 1952,  and the show was hosted by Bob Russell. Austria and Switzerland participated for the first time.

The winner would sign a contract with Universal Studios, in the hope of becoming a movie star, and a second contract with Catalina, a brand she would promote traveling throughout the U.S.. There was no formal contract with Miss Universe, like today.

Miss U 53 in gown

The big favorites to become the 2nd Miss Universe were Misses Germany, France, and Mexico. Sweden, Uruguay, Japan, and Panama, were also often mentioned as strong possibilities.

In fight for the Miss USA crown, two favorites: Illinois and South Carolina. Miss Illinois, Myrna Hansen, was the winner, and joined the group of favorites for the Miss Universe title.

Although only 26 countries competed, there were 16 semi-finalists that year. The idea was to please as many countries as possible, thinking of future editions of the pageant. The 16 were:

Miss USA

Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Panama, Peru, South Africa, Turkey, USA, Uruguay. All 5 continents were represented among the semi-finalists.

The top 5 was 100% geographically correct: Miss USA (North America), Miss Mexico (Latin America), Miss Japan (Asia), Miss Australia (Oceania), and Miss France (Europe), advanced to the final round of competition.

Miss Germany, Christel Schaack, elected Miss Europe before Miss Universe, was “sacrificed” and left the competition too early.

Beauties in gowns

With Miss Germany out of the game, it was a fierce battle between the stunners from France and the USA. Christiane Martel, Miss France, a model from Paris who was born Christiane Magnani, was declared the winner, which did not please the American crowd. They wanted to see Myrna as Miss Universe.

Japan was 3rd, Mexico was 4th, and Australia was 5th.

Victory walking

Miss Peru complained that the judges picked only one Latin among the Top 5. Miss Italy was furious, and said she did not like Miss France’s legs, and therefore, did not think she should be Miss Universe.

In January of 1954, Martel got married, but did not loose her title. Her wedding lasted for 72 days only. She then returned to Hollywood to star in a few epic movies. Myrna Hensen, the 1st runner-up from the US, also became an actress of relative success.

Martel had a successful movie career in Mexico, where she lives until today. She remains the only winner, and the only finalist from France in 59 years!

Special thanks to Alberto Dubal!!



(still competing: 1978, 1989, 2000, 2002-Oxana, 2004, 2008)

Miss Universe 1953

Top 5: Australia (5th), Mexico (4th), France (1st), USA (2nd), Japan (3rd)

The beauty of Miss Universe 1953, from France

8th place – Miss Universe 1961 – Marlene Schmidt

8th place – Marlene Schmidt, Germany

(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 1961, the 10th Miss Universe pageant, took place on 15 July 1961 at the Miami Beach Auditorium in Miami Beach, Florida, USA. It was hosted by Johnny Carson and 48 countries competed. It was the first time that Ireland, Jamaica, Scotland, Madagascar, US Virgin Islands, Rhodesia, and Taiwan (Republic of China) participated in the pageant.

Class of 1961

Although once again Miss International (created to substitute Miss Universe in Long Beach) had more participant countries and a higher level of beauty, Miss Universe started getting more media attention, especially in Latin America. The 1961 group, however, was indeed a weak one, with very few standouts, more specifically Misses Germany, Marlene Schmidt, and Wales, Rosemarie Franklin.

The pageant had many problems related to logistics and organization. The Flager Street parade was a failure for the 2nd consecutive year, with little attendance.

Favorites: Wales (2nd), and Germany (1st)

Miss Germany, the tallest woman in the competition (1.73 m-tall), had an interesting life history: born in Breslau, East Germany, her father died during World War II. Along with her mother and sister, she managed to cross the frontier to West Germany, to reside in Stuttgart.  Not only she was stunning, Marlene was also very clever, and had a diploma in Electric Engneering. In times of Cold War, her story immediately sold and made headlines around the globe.

Another stunner was Miss Wales, Rosemarie Franklin, who arrived in Miami Beach with a respectable pageant curriculum, having won the titles Queen of South Port Festival, Miss Morecambe, Miss Lakeland, Queen of Misty and Miss Wales. Later that year, she would become Miss United Kingdom and Miss World 1961 (Rosemarie died in the year 2000, in the United States).

Beautiful Miss Germany

Misses France, Israel, Switzerland, Japan, England and Scotland were also often mentioned in the press. From the Americas, the front-runner was Miss Argentina. Miss Chile was noted by her class and elegance. Speaking fluent French, she served as an interpreter for the French-speaking candidates.

Miss Greece,  Eleftheria Deloutsi, was voted ‘Miss Unity’ by her fellow contestants. She was also nicknamed ‘Miss Pass out’ by the press: she fainted over 5 times during special presentations under the sun of Miami.

Sharon Renee Brown of Louisiana was crowned Miss USA and won the title Miss Photogenic.

People complained about the high prices of tickets to watch the show which ranged from… USD 1 to USD 4!!

Top 15

When the 15 semi-finalists were called, only 13 names were announced at first: Argentina, Chile, England, France, Germany, Iceland, Israel, Korea, Rep. of China, Scotland, Switzerland, USA, Wales. Then it was explained that Misses Brazil, Peru, and Sweden, had tied in 14th place, and that only 2 of them would advanced.

The three paraded for the judges again, and they chose Misses Peru and Sweden to remain in the competition. Stael Abelha was the first Brazilian woman to miss the cut in Miss Universe since her country started participating in the pageant, back in 1954.

Miss Greece, who did not make it, of course, passed out!

The journalists covering the pageant reported that Misses Korea, Sweden and Iceland, should never have been chosen. Instead, they expected Finland, Uruguay and Italy among the semi-finalists.

Miss U 1961

Miss USA, Sharon Brown, was 5th; Miss England, Arlette Dobson, was 4th; Miss Argentina, Adriana Gardiazábal, was 3rd; Rosemarie Frankland of Wales was 2nd; and Miss Universe 1961 was the beautiful representative of West Germany, Marlene Schmidt. She remains the only woman from Germany to have won the Miss Universe title.

In 1962 Marlene Schmidt became the third of by now eight wives of the American TV actor Ty Hardin, who was famous for the title role in the western-series Bronco. They settled in the USA. The marriage, that lasted until 1966, produced one daughter, who remained Schmidt’s only child, but who has nine half-siblings on her father’s side.

Later, notably between 1972 and 1986, Marlene Schmidt became involved in the movie industry, where she acquired credits as actress, producer and writer in altogether eleven productions. She currently lives in Saarbrücken.


(Still competing: 1953, 1978, 1989, 2000, 2002-Oxana, 2004, 2008) 

Miss Universe 1961, Marlene Schmidt, Miss Germany

Top 5: USA (5th), Argentina (3rd), Germany (winner), Wales (2nd), England (4th)

Stunning: Miss U 61

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