11th place – Miss Universe 1977 – Janelle Commissiong

11th place – Janelle Commissiong, Trinidad & Tobago

(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 1977, the 26th edition of the pageant, was held at the National Theater, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on July 16, 1977. The Caribbean country hosted the pageant hoping to promote tourism. A record of 80 participant countries competed, a number considered high for Miss Universe standards even nowadays. Antigua, British Virgin Islands, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Reunion, St. Kitts e St. Lucia, debuted that year.  Bob Barker and Helen O’Connell hosted the pageant.

Miss Trinidad & Tobago in national costume

Santo Domingo, the first city founded in the New Continent, was venue for Miss Universe in times when the Dominican Republic was under a totalitarian regime, just like several other countries which hosted the Miss Universe pageant in those times.

82 contestants were supposed to compete, however, Miss Martinique was not allowed to for being under age (16), and Turkey wanted to send the same candidate who had competed in 1976, something against Miss Universe’s rules. 80 was the final number.


Most of the 16 black beauties who competed often complained about the treatment they received from press journalists and photographers, who always chose to photograph and interview the white beauties.

The big favorites for the crown were Misses Germany,  Marie-Luise Gassen, Holland, Ineke Berends, USA, Kimberly Tomes, Venezuela, Cristal Montañez, Argentina, Maritza Elizabet Jurado, and Scotland, Sandra Bell.

Other possibilities were Austria, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, and France.


Janelle Commissiong, Miss Trinidad & Tobago, was always a popular beauty in the Dominican Republic, but never a favorite. She started being noticed 4 days before the big final, when she was voted “Miss Photogenic”. Many thought she was too short (1.65 m-tall) to be Miss Universe. Besides, a black beauty had never won the title.

Among the judges, the popular singer Dionne Warwick, supermodel Wilhelmina, former Miss Universe Marisol Malaret, from Puerto Rico, and fashion designers Oscar de La Renta and Roberto Cavalli. Cavalli would later get married to Miss Austria, Eva Maria Düringer.

The 5 finalists

With a great production and a stage reproducing the colonial architecture of Santo Domingo, Miss Universe 1977 kicked off in great style.

The Top 12 semi-finalists were:  Scotland, Trinidad & Tobago, U.S.A., Germany, Venezuela, Austria, Spain, Argentina, Nicaragua, Colombia, Holland, and Dominican Republic.

The surprises were Misses Spain and Dominican Republic, although the last one may have placed for being the hometown girl. Miss Nicaragua made the cut for the first time with the very elegant Beatriz Obregón Lacayo.

Top 2

Miss Germany was very representative of the 1970’s women: modern, alternative. When interviewed by Bob Barker, she did not hesitate to say: “I need a drink!”. She also stated that her favorite magazine was PLAYBOY, which made co-host Helen O’Connel choke!

One of the main favorites for the crown, Miss Holland, Ineke Berends, perhaps one of the most striking faces in Miss Universe history, did not seem comfortable all night long and failed to advance to the ‘top 5′. She did much better in Miss World, where she was a runner-up.

Miss Argentina, Maritza Jurado, was one of the most elegant women around, and many thought she should have been a top 5 finalist.

Miss Trinidad & Tobago, Janelle Comissiong, showed confidence in her interview, a perfect figure (despite her lack of height), and was very elegant in a golden gown which made her look absolutely stunning.

Miss Universe and Miss USA 1977

The most applauded girls of the night were Dominican Republic, Austria, Trinidad & Tobago, Nicaragua, USA, Scotland, and Colombia.

The ones who advanced to the Top 5 were Germany, Scotland, Austria, Trinidad & Tobago and Colombia.

Although it was a beautiful group of finalists, there was no clear standout, and it was an open game at that point.

The 4th runner-up was Miss Germany; Colombia was announced next, as 3rd runner-up; Scotland was the 2nd runner-up; Miss Austria finished as 1st runner-up, and Janelle Comissiong, Miss Trinidad & Tobago, was the first black woman to be crowned Miss Universe!

The crowd stood up to applaud her at that historical moment. Many contestants, especially the black delegates, jumped around in joy and tears, celebrating her victory, and judge Dionne Warwick said in tears: “It feels like I won”.

After 25 years, a black woman was finally crowned Miss Universe!

During her reign, she was an advocate for black rights and world peace. Commissiong was awarded the Trinity Cross, the country’s highestaward, in 1977. Three postage stamps were also issued in her honour.

Janelle had one of the most extensive, having traveled to countries such as Iceland, Argentina, Hong Kong, Peru, Puerto Rico to the United States.



(The top 10:  1953, 1961, 1974, 1978, 1989, 2000, 2002-dethroned Oxana, 2004, 2008, 2010)

The queen kissed by the king, Michael Jackson

Top 5: Colombia (4th), Scotland (3rd), Trinidad & Tobago (1st), Austria (2nd), Germany (5th)

Black is Beautiful! Miss Universe 1977

12th place – Miss Universe 2005 – Natalie Glebova

12th place – Natalie Glebova, Canada

(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 amazing Thai stage

For the 2nd time, the beautiful and culturally rich kingdom of Thailand hosted the Miss Universe pageant in 2005.  The 54th edition of Miss U was held at the Impact Arena, in Bangkok, on May 31, 2005. It was a magnificent show in which 81 countries participated. Nancy O’Dell and Billy Bush (who actually arrived on stage riding an elephant!) hosted the event. Latvia was the only country that debuted in Miss Universe that year. Also for the first time in Miss Universe history, Sweden did not send a representative to the pageant.

Indonesia: controversy and media for Miss U

The main favorites for the crown that year were Misses Canada, Natalie Glebova, Venezuela, Monica Spear, Greece, Evangelia Aravani, Chile, Renata Ruiz, Puerto Rico, Cynthia Olavarria, Mexico, Laura Elizondo, Trinidad & Tobago, Magdalene Walcott, South Africa, Claudia Henkel, Indonesia, Artika Sari Devi, Thailand, Chananporn Rosjan, Antigua & Barbuda, Shermain Jeremy, and the first ever Miss Latvia Universe, Ieva Kokoreviča.

After 9 years, Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim country, returned to Miss Universe represented by Artika Sari Devi. There was a big stir and media controversy on weather or not she would compete in the swimsuit competition. Artika did compete, being one of few to choose to wear a one-piece suit. Her presentation show photos were seen in websites and newspapers all over the world.

Greece: favorite and top 15

The special awards that year went to Miss Thailand, Chananporn Rosjan (Best National Costume), Miss US Virgin Island Tricia Homer (Miss Congeniality), and Miss Philippines,  Gionna Cabrera (Miss Photogenic, voted and chosen by the Filipino fanatics in the internet).

Miss Zambia, Cynthia Kanema, is the woman who represented her country in most Grand Slam pageants, five in total: Miss World, Miss Universe, Miss Tourism Queen, Miss Earth, and Miss International.

With lots of Thai gold on a magnificent stage, and the 81 delegates being introduced in some of the country’s most beautiful places, Miss U 05’s live telecast kicked off for a global audience estimated in 700 million viewers in 72 countries. Thailand not only showed the world its endless wonders, but also that it was recovering from the tragedy which had been the tsunami which had hit Ko Phi Phi and killed thousands just a few months earlier. During the telecast, there was a minute of silence in tribute to those people.

First Miss Latvia: top 10!

A tuktuk, a Thai taxi, entered the stage bringing host Nancy O’Dell. In all senses, the rich culture of Thailand was always present at the 2005 Miss Universe magnificent  production.

Minutes before the announcement of the ‘Top 15′, pageant fans from around the world wondered: will Indonesia make the cut after so much controversies? Will Miss Venezuela make a strong return, after being ‘left in the ice’ in 2004? Will sash power help Miss USA to make it through to the semi-finals, even being far from being considered a favorite? Will the big favorites from Canada, Chile, Greece, Puerto Rico, and Latvia make the cut?

Israel: great surprise

It was time to meet the 2005 top 15 quarter-finalists, and they were: Mexico, Latvia, Dominican Republic, Canada, South Africa, Venezuela, Norway, Switzerland, USA, Indonesia, Trinidad & Tobago, Israel, Peru, Greece, and Puerto Rico.

The early elimination of Thailand and Chile, with USA and Switzerland getting in instead, were the main surprises. The inclusion of Helene Tråsavik, the half Thai beauty from Norway, and Israel’s Elena Ralph, were positive surprises.

The show went on with the evening gown competition, and surprisingly, when the Top 10 semi-finalists were announced, the judges decided to keep Misses USA and Switzerland in the run, leaving behind the stunners from Greece, South Africa, and Trinidad & Tobago.

Top 10

The ones who made it to the Top 10 were Puerto Rico, Canada, Peru, Switzerland, Latvia, Dominican Republic, USA, Mexico, Venezuela, and Israel. Seven of them were from the Americas, two from Europe, and only one from Asia: Israel. The Israeli beauty, initially a surprise, had been getting ground with her great stage presence, natural beauty and charisma. Not a single black beauty was among the Top 10.

Canada: perfect in swimsuit

Swimsuits were next, and at that point, Canada’s Nataly Glebova, perfect in all senses, proved to be “the one to beat” that night. With her great catwalk, Miss Puerto Rico came right behind her. Something that did not help Cinthya Olavarria was her make-up. Apparently her producers thought that making her look like an Asian would help her… Well, not really! Miss Dominican Republic, Rena Soñe, also started being noted in swimsuit, with her perfect figure and beautiful skin complexion. On the other extreme, Miss USA’s odd moves on stage (one of the funniest swimsuit presentations in history!) were noted by pageant followers and commented on websites and blogs. Miss Peru slipped and nearly fell on stage. She had reached her limit.

If Asia dominated Miss Universe in 1988, in Taiwan, with four Asian beauties among the top 5, 17 years later, in Thailand, it was the Americas that reigned supreme: all 5 finalists came from the New World: Venezuela, Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Dominican Republic.

Canada is Miss Universe 2005!

Overall, a fair group of semi-finalists, although there was no diversity in it.

Final questions and answers ran smoothly, and the final results were announced: Venezuela in 5th place, Mexico in 4th, Dominican Republic in 3rd, Puerto Rico in 2nd, and Canada conquered its second Miss Universe title with stunning Russian-born Natalie Glebova!

A classical pianist who had also won various regional gymnastic championships, prior to competing at Miss Universe, Glebova worked as a model and received her Bachelor of Commerce in Information Technology Management and Marketing at Ryerson University in Toronto. She has also worked as a motivational speaker for grade school and high school students. She was an excellent Miss Universe who worked tremendously as a model, especially in Asia. Glebova later married Thai tennis player Paradorn Srichaphan (they got divorced in early 2011).


(Still competing: 1953, 1961, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1989, 2000, 2002-dethroned Oxana, 2004, 2008, 2010) 

Miss Universe 2005: Natalie Glebova

Two fantastic winners: Natalie of Canada is crowned by Jenn of Australia.

All-American Top 5: Venezuela (5th), Canada (1st), Dominican Republic (3rd), Puerto Rico (2nd), Mexico (4th)

13th place – Miss Universe 1987 – Cecilia Bolocco

13th place – Cecilia Bolocco, Chile

* eliminated scores (highest and lowest scores) were used to break the tie with 14th place, Denise Quiñones.

(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 1987 happened in Singapore. Only sixty-eight countries competed, with Greenland, Egypt and Kenya debuting. 13 nations which had competed in 1986, did not come back in 1987. Miss Universe returned to an Asian country after 7 years. Singapore was the 4th Asian nation to host the pageant. Two girls were sent back home after a few days of competition, one for being too young, Miss Scotland (17), and another for being too old to compete, Miss Bermuda (25).

Miss Philippines

Singapore was supposed to invest USD 3 million, but ended up with a bill of over USD 8 million.

It could be said that 1987 was the last mega production of the 1980’s. Changes in television production (for worse) were visible in subsequent years, especially in 1989. It was also the last time Bob Barker hosted Miss Universe. Bob spent 20 years presenting the pageant, and is regarded as the best ever.

It was also the year when pageants in general started to live a crisis. The press treated them with more irony than ever, and the Latin press, Miss Universe’s main supporter, did not show up in a significant number in Singapore.

Miss Photogenic, from Colombia

The Miss South American pageant, usually a thermometer for Miss Universe, happened in Cartagena, Colombia. Miss Colombia, Patricia Lopéz Ruiz, was the winner, with Miss Uruguay in 2nd, Miss Venezuela in 3rd, and Miss Bolivia in 4th place. Miss Chile, Cecilia Bolocco, and Miss Peru, Jessica Newton, were not among the finalists.

This time around, Miss Universe results were very different, and from 1988 on, many South American countries stopped sending their winners to the regional pageant. They thought it had lost credibility.

In Singapore, Miss Colombia, Patricia Lopez, was the #1 front-runner and favorite for the crown. It was no surprise that she was voted as Miss Photogenic. Other favorites were Misses USA, Uruguay, Brazil (who had not participated in Miss South America), Mexico, Italy, Finland, Holland, Guatemala, and Philippines.

Semi-finalists in their gowns

Miss Singapore, Marion Nicole Teo, was never a favorite. As a matter of fact, when she won her national title, the local Miss Universe committee was very unhappy with Teo’s victory, and thought she had not chance to become a semi-finalist.

The opening number had the participation of Barbara Palacios Teyde, Miss Universe 1986, who looked more beautiful than ever. After the parade of nations, the public at home could see how the 68 candidates were scored in the preliminary swimsuit competition, and the top 10 scorers were USA, Sweden, Turks & Caicos, Uruguay, Chile, Italy, Singapore, Finland, Peru, and Puerto Rico.

Miss Puerto Rico: 5th in Miss U and Miss Int'l 87

The top 10 were announced, and they were Italy, Puerto Rico, Philippines, Venezuela, Peru, USA, Singapore, Sweden, Turks and Caicos, and Chile.

The heavy favorite from Colombia, who many said had a bit of an attitude problem, was out, and so were other favorites, like Finland and Uruguay. Among those who made it, the surprises were Peru, Sweden, Singapore and Turks and Caicos. Carmelita Louise Ariza, the sister of Miss Turks & Caicos 1983, remains the only woman from Turks & Caicos to have ever placed in a Grand Slam pageant.

Miss Chile, Cecilia Bolocco, started impressing the judges and the audience after her interview with Bob Barker (watch it here). It was actually the last time Bob Barker interviewed a Miss Universe candidate in 20 years, and perhaps, it was his greatest interview. She got the highest score, and never left the top until the end of the competition. Bolocco’s evening gown presentation was also a memorable one.

Crowning moment

Chile won its first (and so far only) Miss Universe title with massive celebration back home. Even the head of the Catholic church in Chile congratulated Cecilia!

Miss Italy, Roberta Capua, a very beautiful and charismatic brunette from Naples, was the 1st runner-up; Miss USA, Texas’ Michelle Royer, was the 2nd runner-up, followed by Venezuela’s Maria Ines Calero (3rd), and Puerto Rico’s Laurie Simpson (4th). Miss Puerto Rico would be crowned Miss International 1987 later that year in Tokyo.

Miss Italy

Miss Brazil won the Best National Costume Award, and Miss Honduras was chosen as Miss Congeniality.

After her year of reign, Bolocco worked as a journalist on the Spanish language edition of CNN, on Telemundo and on various programs for Chilean Television. She has also acted on soap operas. In 2003, she was a special commentator for Miss Universe 1993. In 2001, she made worldwide headlines when she married former Argentine president Carlos Menem. They got divorced in 2007.



Special thanks to Alberto Dubal and Alex Liu!

(Still competing: 1953, 1961, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1989, 2000, 2002-dethroned Oxana, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010)


Chile's Cecilia Bolocco - Miss Universe 1987

Top 5: USA (3rd), Italy (2nd), Puerto Rico (5th), Chile (1st), Venezuela (4th)

Miss U 87

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