14th place – Miss Universe 2001 – Denise Quiñones

14th place – Denise Quiñones, Puerto Rico

* eliminated scores (highest and lowest scores) were used to break the tie with 13th place, Cecilia Bolocco.

(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 2001 was held at the Coliseo Rubén Rodríguez, in Baymon, Puerto Rico. 77 countries competed in a show hosted by supermodels Elle MacPherson and Naomi Campbell (both were heavily criticized for their performances as presenters), with the help of Todd Newton and former Miss Universe Brook Lee. Ricky Martin was the main musical attraction, opening the pageant singing his hit Loaded.


France was believed to be a man

Miss Universe’s 50th edition was marked by some controversial stories surrounding some of the contestants. Miss France,  Élodie Gossuin, for instance, was accused of being a man, while Miss Brazil, Juliana Borges, made worldwide headlines after telling the press she had gone through 17 plastic surgeries.

Slovenia debuted in Miss Universe with Minka Alagič, who wore one of the oddest evening gowns in the history of the pageant. Her dress was compared to a superhero’s costume!


Slovenia in gown: a superhero?

After the first press conference with all contestants, the international press had a clear standout and major favorite for the crown: Greece’s Evelina Papantoniou. Classy, tall, with a phenomenal catwalk, it looked like Evelina was all MUO was looking for when trying to get the pageant revamped. Speaking of controversies, some nude pictures of the Greek goddess had emerged in the internet days previous to the pageant, which some thought, might have prevented her from winning.

Other favorites were Miss Nigeria, Agbani Darego, who many thought could become a 3rd black Miss Universe in just four years, Miss Venezuela, Eva Ekvall, Miss Spain, Eva Sisó, Miss Nicaragua, Ligia Argüello, Miss Russia, Oksana Kalandyrets, Miss Israel, Ilanit Levy, and Miss Puerto Rico, Denise Quiñones. Miss Sweden, MMalin Olsson, had the most beautiful face in the competition, but perhaps was too short to be a serious contender (1.63 m-tall).


Greece: THE favorite!!

The hometown girl, Puerto Rico’s Quiñones, although unquestionably beautiful, had always received a “celebrity treatment” by local organizers, which caused a clear discomfort among the remaining delegates. Although always smiling and being polite to the other competitors, she never got very close to any of them. In addition, the local press tried really hard to push her as “the one to beat”, looking for and reporting on flaws they found on the other favorites, especially Venezuela and Greece.

Miss Korea, Kim Sa-rang, won the Best National Costume Award; voted by her fellow contestants as Miss Congeniality was Miss Bahamas, Nakera Simms; and Miss Photogenic, the most voted delegate in the internet, was Miss Puerto Rico, Denise Quiñones.


Top 10

The top 10 were announced: Spain, Venezuela, Nigeria, Israel, Greece, India, Russia, USA, France, and Puerto Rico. When Puerto Rico was announced, the crowd went wild!

Among the ones who were missed, were Misses Nicaragua, who would go on to become a Miss World finalist, and South Africa, a semi-finalist in Miss World 2001.


Nigeria: future Miss World

Miss Nigeria, Agbani Darego, was the first women from her country to be a Miss Universe semi-finalist. She chose to wear a one-piece swimsuit, which many believed, cost her a spot in the Top 5. A few months later, she would be crowned Miss World, in South Africa.

Some sashes proved to be powerful in those days, especially India and USA’s. None of the two were expected among the semi-finalists, but would go on to become finalists.

Miss France might have been helped by the whole controversy about her gender, but the fact is that she would later be crowned Miss Europe.


Venezuela: a story of courage

Miss Venezuela, Eva Ekvall, was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in 2010, and underwent eight months of treatment. She chronicled her experience in a book of photographs, Fuera de Foco (Out of Focus), released in 2011.

Miss Greece, Evelina Papantoniou, mastered the runway in flawless swimsuit and gown presentations, but it was Puerto Rico’s Denise Quiñones who got the highest average scores on both competitions. Among the judges, a famous Puerto Rican couple: Dayanara Torres, Miss Universe 1993, and pop star Marc Anthony.

The 5 finalists were Misses USA, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Greece, and India. USA and India had gone way too far in the competition.


Denise: ravishing in gown

After a quick chat with the 5 finalists and final questions & answers, the results were announced: India in 5th place, Venezuela in 4th, USA in 3rd. Greece and Puerto Rico were left. Miss Greece was announced as 1st runner-up, and Miss Puerto Rico, Denise Quiñones, won a 4th Miss Universe title for her island.

Denise was very elegant and looked ravishing in her evening gown that night. Add to that the massive support she got from her countryman, and her victory over the mega favorite Miss Greece, who perhaps had the best catwalk in Miss Universe history, could be explained.

Nevertheless, the feeling of frustration among the other delegates, national directors, and non-Puerto Rican pageant fans, was gigantic. Meanwhile, the people of Puerto Rico celebrated in the streets of San Juan just as if Puerto Rico had won the World Cup!

Quiñones was a popular Miss Universe, having done a great job, especially in the Latin market. She became a talented actress, guest-starring in an episode of the famous television series Smallville. She played Andrea, a masked avenger who fought crime in Metropolis and invited Clark Kent (Tom Welling) to join her in her adventures.


Still competing: 1953, 1961, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1987, 1989, 2000, 2002-dethroned Oxana, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010

Denise, the 4th Miss Universe from Puerto Rico

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

Miss Universe 2001

15th place – Miss Universe 1972 – Kerry Anne Wells

15th place – Kerry Anne Wells, Australia

(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)

When it celebrated its 20th anniversary (and 21st edition), Miss Universe was held outside of the continental U.S. for the first time in history. Puerto Rico hosted it, and the final event happened at the Cerromar Beach Hotel, in the city of Dorado. 61 international beauties competed, and one country debuted: Iraq. Wijdan Burham El-Deen Sulyman remains the only woman from Iraq to have ever competed in Miss Universe. Miss Iran was also expected to join the pageant, but it did not happen (Iran has never competed in Miss Universe).

Contestants during rehearsals

It was once again presented by Bob Barker, and co-presented by Helen O’Connell, who debuted that year. She would remain as Miss Universe’s co-host until 1980.

The governor of Puerto Rico at that time, Luis A. Ferré, had invited the Miss Universe Organization to actually move to Puerto Rico. A man who brought great progress to the island, he was a promoter of American statehood for Puerto Rico. Things started out well, and Miss Universe 1971, Georgina Rizk, spent most of her year of reign living in San Juan.

Favorites from Portugal and Brazil

In 1972, a few months before Miss Universe, also the Miss USA pageant took place in Puerto Rico, which generated a series of protests by locals, led by the Socialist Party. The night when Miss USA was crowned, a bomb exploded at the Cerromar hotel, destroying two rooms and scaring everyone, especially the American delegates.

In addition to that, the Japanese Red Army, trained in Lebanon, killed 24 tourists in Israel, 15 of whom were Puerto Ricans. The island governament then prohibited Georgina Rizk to return to Puerto Rico, not even to crown her successor, and Miss Lebanon was not allowed to compete in Miss Universe 1972.

Protests mounted during the days of Miss Universe, forcing the delegates to spend most of their time in the host hotel, under heavy security.

Miss Australia was a model from East Victoria Park

It was the only time in the 60 years of Miss Universe that the winning announcement could not be seen. Allegedly, a Socialist Party activist managed to cut the imagine off, leaving only the sound on, right when the name of Miss Universe 1972 was about to be announced. When the image returned, Miss Australia had already been crowned Miss Universe 1972.

Not long after Miss Universe 1972, accused of corruption,  Luis A. Ferré, was defeated in the local elections, and the new governor practically expelled the Miss Universe organization from Puerto Rico. Kerry Anne Wells, Miss Universe 1972, spent most of her year of reign living at a hotel in New York, as Miss Universe organized its new HQ in the Big Apple.

Bob Barker and a perfect top 5

The Europen, Asian, and African beauties, first met up in New York, where they spent 4 days sightseeing, appearing on tv shows, and doing some shopping. The Latin American beauties were taken to Lima, Peru, where they spent 10 days filled with activities.

Four candidates were considered as front-runners when the whole group finally arrived in Puerto Rico: Miss Germany, Heidi-Marie Weber, Miss Venezuela, María Antonieta Cámpoli, Miss Israel, Ilana Goren (considered the most beautiful face in the competition), and Miss Brazil, Rejane Vieira Costa.

1972 crowning moment

Miss Venezuela, although only 17 years old, was considered the best prepared delegate, and one of the most elegant around. Misses India and Philippines were also often noted for their elegance and stunning wardrobes.

Other favorites were the candidates from the USA, England, Peru, France, Austria, Bahamas, and Portugal.

Miss Australia, Kerry Anne Wells, was one of the last girls to arrive, and even though she was the tallest in the group, the Aussie beauty passed unnoticed in the first days of the competition. Kerry designed all her wardrobe, including the gown she wore the night she was crowned Miss Universe.

Miss U 72 in gown and ss

Ombayi Mukuta, Miss Zaire, was always smiling, and it was not surprising that she won the Miss Amity award. The very charming Miss Belgium, Anne Marie Roger, was chosen as Miss Photogenic, and Miss Peru won the Best National Costume Award.

It was the first time that a pre-taped swimsuit segment was seen in Miss Universe, something that would happen until 1989.

The Top 12 semi-finalists were announced in 3 groups of 4:  England, Brazil, Japan, and Venezuela; Australia, Peru, Belgium, and U.S.A.; Israel, Germany, Philippines and India. There were no major surprises, as most favorites advanced to the semi-final stage of competition. The exceptions were Portugal, Austria and Bahamas, who had been left behind.

3 best: Brazil, Australia, Venezuela

Miss Puerto Rico was also not among the semi-finalists, but that was expected.

Miss Australia’s spotless presentation and unquestionable beauty, had made her a favorite after the Presentation Show. She looked just as amazing at the final night, and gave one step further towards the title by becoming a finalist, along with Misses England, Venezuela, Brazil, and Israel.

Five brunettes, and one of the best ‘Top 5s” in the history of the pageant. All 5 were absolutely stunning, and truly anything could happened at that point.

Miss England was announced as 4th runner-up, Miss Israel was the 3rd runner-up, Miss Venezuela the 2nd, Miss Brazil the 1st, and Miss Universe 1972 was Miss Australia, Kerry Anne Wells!

Miss U 1972

After four straight finalists in Miss Universe, between 1969 and 1972, Australia finally had its first Miss Universe title. In that same year, Australia would conquer the Miss World title and place 2nd in Miss International. It remains the greatest Grand Slam performance by a country in one year in all times.

Kerry Anne was a great Miss Universe, and after her reign was over, she pursued working as a news anchor. Prior to entering the pageants, she worked as a weather bird. She was also a top model.

Miss Universe 1972 is now a successful fashion designer, writer and commentator who speaks out about positive realistic body image and self-esteem. She is involved with BodyThink, a healthy lifestyle program designed for Australian schools.


(still competing: 1953, 1961, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1987, 1989, 2000, 2001, 2002-dethroned Oxana, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010)

Special thanks to Alberto Dubal for his valuable contribution!


Kerry Anne Wells, Miss Universe 1972, from Australia

Top 5: England (5th), Brazil (2nd), Australia (1st), Venezuela (3rd), Israel (4th)

Brazil (2nd) and Australia (1st) on the cover of Manchete magazine

16th place – Miss Universe 1975 – Anne Marie Pohtamo

16th place – Anne Marie Pohtamo, Finland

(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 24th edition of Miss Universe happened at the National Gymnasium, in San Salvador, El Salvador, on July 19, 1975. It was the first time that the pageant had more than 70 participants, 71 to be exact. Belize, Mauritius, Micronesia, and Samoa debuted. Bob Barker hosted the event.

Miss Finland in her national costume

Because of diplomatic issues between El Salvador and Honduras, the second one did not compete in Miss Universe 1975. Speaking of political tension, according to the New York Times, “while a worldwide television audience saw El Salvador’s sunny beaches before the “Miss Universe” finals July 19, off-camera heavily armed troops were called out to halt demonstrations by students protesting the Government’s expenditure of $1-million on the contest.” Protests took place in Santa Ana and San Salvador. Again, from the NY Times: “According to the military Government, which contended that the march was part of a “Communist plot,” one person was killed, five wounded, and 11 arrested. But according to the students, at least 12 persons were killed, 20 wounded, and 40 arrested.

Miss France would win Miss Int'l 76

If Yugoslavia and France were ignored by Miss Universe judges, in Miss International 1975 and 1976, respectively, their fate would be much happier: Lidija Vera Manić from Yugoslavia, and Sophie Sonia Perin from France, were both elected and crowned Miss International in Tokyo. Manic (1975) actually got to crown Perin (1976).

The number 1 favorite for the title in 1975 was Miss Venezuela, Maritza Pineda Montoya. Others favorite to capture the crown were Miss USA, Summer Bartholomew, Miss Sweden, Catharina Sjödahl, Miss Bolivia, Jacqueline Gamarra, Miss Finland, Anne-Marie Pohtamo, Miss Mexico, Delia Servin Nieto, Miss Israel, Orit Cooper, Miss England, Vicki Harris (2nd runner-up in Miss World 1975, as Miss UK), and Miss Colombia, Martha Lucia Echeverri.

Miss USA

The most applauded beauties during the parade of nations were the ones from El Salvador, Guatemala, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Sweden, USA and Venezuela.

El Salvador was very careful when selecting the “hometown girl”: Carmen Elena Figueroa was a gracious hostess, very polite and well-educated, who came from a good family and spoke English fluently. It was no surprise to see her among the semi-finalists.

Marieta Arrieta, Miss Universe 1955’s 1st runner-up, and Luz Marina Zuluaga, Miss Universe 1958, from Colombia, were among the judges who selected Miss Universe 1975.

Top 12

Other former titleholders present at the event were Gladys Zender (1957), Norma Nolan (1962), Corinna Tsopei (1964) and Kerry Ann Wells (1972).

Co-host Helen O’Connell did her best to promote the beauties of El Salvador, especially its beaches, some of which perfect for surfing, its volcanos, and historical sights.

Bob Barker announced the ‘top 12′, and they were: Haiti, Finland, El Salvador, Colombia, Philippines, England, Japan, Israel, Ireland, Brazil, Sweden and USA. The non-inclusion of Miss Venezuela was considered outrageous. In contrast, nobody expected Miss Haiti among the semi-finalists.

Top 2: Haiti (2nd) and Finland (1st)

In the end, the so-celebrated Latin team stayed all behind when the 5 finalists were announced: Finland, Anne-Marie Pohtamo, Philippines, Rose Marie Singson Brosas, USA, Summer Bartholomew, Sweden, Catharina Sjödahl (the crowd favorite), and Haiti, Gerthie David, who proved to be very charming and elegant. Her speech about the Haitian superstitions swayed thunderous applause from the local audience and conquered the judges.

The happy Miss U 75!

Miss Philippines was the 4th runner-up, Miss Sweden the 3rd (with loud protests by the crowd, who wanted to see her as the winner), Miss USA the 2nd, Miss Haiti, the 1st, and Miss Finland, Anne-Marie Pohtamo, was crowned Miss Universe 1975.

Amparo Muñoz, the Miss Universe 1974 who did not finish her reign, didn’t show up to crown Miss Universe 1975. Instead, it was Kerry-Ann Wells, Miss U72, who put the crown on Pohtamo’s head.

The beauty of Finland's 2nd Miss Universe

Finland, a country which had had the very first Miss Universe, back in 1952, and had been so successful in the 1960’s and early 1970’s, with 9 finalists, including three 1st runners-up, finally won its second Miss Universe crown.

As for Gerthie David, Miss Haiti, she made history by becoming the 2nd black woman to reach the 1st runner-up position in Miss Universe. She was one of the most exotic delegates in all history of Miss Universe. In the 1970s, Gerthie David, a model from Port-au Prince, became a role model and an idol to the Haitian youth.

Back to Pohtamo, she was a professional model, and always was a favorite. Her beauty and elegance more than justified her victory. Pohtamo later pursued a movie career. She married Arto Hietanen in 1980, and is a mother of four.

Special thanks to Alberto Dubal!

(Still competing – TOP 15 – 1953, 1961, 1972, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1987, 1989, 2000, 2001, 2002-dethroned Oxana, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010)


Miss Universe 1975, from Finland

Top 5: Philippines (5th), Sweden (4th), Finland (1st), Haiti (2nd), USA (3rd)

"Hey mom, I won!"

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