17th place – Miss Universe 1986 – Barbara Palacios Teyde

17th place – Barbara Palacios Teyde, Venezuela

(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 1986 was held at the ATLAPA Convention Center, Panama City, Panama. Panama had been bidding to host the pageant since 1983, and when it finally happened, it was in great style: Miss Universe 1986 is considered by many pageant followers to be one of the best Miss U editions, if not the best, in 60 years.

Miss U 86 in Panama

Before going to Panama, all South American delegates traveled to Caracas, where they competed for the Miss South America title, a “thermometer” for Miss Universe. Miss Venezuela, Barbara Palacios Teyde was the winner, with Miss Colombia, Maria Monica Urbina, finishing in 2nd place, and Miss Brazil, Deise Nunes de Souza, the only black woman to have been crowned Miss Brazil Universe, was 3rd. All three arrived in Panama City as favorites.

Miss Denmark (left): destined to be a supermodel

Seventy-seven candidates competed in what was probably the best group of candidates in the 1980’s. Not even the “pittoresque” ones, so common in the 80’s batches, showed up in Panama. The 78th candidate, Miss Yugoslavia, was sent back home in the first week of competition, when organizers found out she was 17 years old.

Although the three above mentioned South American stunners were highly favored by the local and the international press covering the pageant, it was Christy Fichtner, Miss USA, who was considered to be “the one to beat”.

Italy: Miss Photogenic

Other favorites were Misses Holland,  Caroline Veldkamp, New Zealand, Christine Atkinson, Australia, Christina Lucinda Bucat, Finland, Tuula Irmeli Polvi, Norway, Tone Henriksen, Reunion, Geneviève Lebon, and Italy, Susanna Huckstep (chosen as Miss Photogenic).

From Asia, it was Miss India, Mehr Jessia, who was expected to do something in the pageant. She became a successful international model afterwards. Africa had two strong contenders: the statuesque and very tall Miss Zaire, Aimee Likobe Dobala (who after the pageant became a famous runway model in Paris), and Marie Françoise Kouame, Cote d’Ivoire’s first and only candidate in Miss Universe history.

The tall and elegant Miss Zaire: Mucho manioc!

From the Caribbean, it was Miss U.S. Virgin Islands, Jasmine Olivia Turner, who shined brighter in the preliminary competition. Miss Spain, Concha Espinoza, was very popular among the Panamanians.

It was the last time that Zaire, Papua New Guinea, Gambia, Reunion and Western Samoa participated in Miss U.

Helena Christensen, Miss Denmark, was never a favorite in Panama City. However, not long after the pageant her modeling career would take off, and she remains the only supermodel ever revealed by Miss Universe.

Semi-finalists in ss

With a sensational opening number, with the 77 beauties singing “we are heading to the future” on a fabulous stage, Miss Universe 1986 started.

Something curious happened during the parade of nations: Miss Philippines, Violeta Naluz, made reference to the “People Power”, a series of popular demonstrations in the Philippines that occurred in 1983-86, when introducing herself. Because of such political statement, from 1987 on, the parade of nations would be pre-recorded.

Palacios and Barker: Mi nombre es Panama!

The 77 candidates also appeared wearing Catalina swimsuits in some of Panama’s most spectacular landscapes. Their swimsuit preliminary scores could be seen by the audience at home, and the 10 women who scored the highest were:

USA, Venezuela, Finland, Holland, Zaire, Italy, Poland, Norway, Reunion, and Spain. Only half of them, however, would advance to the semi-finals.

The top 10 were announced by host Bob Barker, and they were:

Brazil, Colombia, Puerto Rico, USA, Zaire, Switzerland, Venezuela, Poland, Finland, and Chile.

Brazil in nc

Miss USA had the highest preliminary score, followed by Misses Venezuela (2nd), and Finland (3rd). The surprises were Chile, Poland, and mostly, Puerto Rico, who took the places of favorites such as Holland, Italy, and India, among many others.

The hometown girl, Panama’s Gilda García López, never a favorite, not even for the local press, did not advance, as expected. She won the Best National Costume award. Miss Guam, Dina Ann Reyes Salas, was voted Miss Congeniality.

Miss Switzerland, Eveline Nicole Glanzmann, another very tall delegate, was no surprise: in 1985 she had been a Top7-finalist in Miss World, in London.

Some of the Top 10 interviews with Bob Barker were memorable, like Miss Zaire’s “manioc”, and Miss Venezuela ending hers by saying the promotional slogan created by Panama’s Tourism Board, “Mi Nombre es Panama“, or “My Name is Panama”. That was probably the moment when Miss Venezuela took an edge over the other contestants, even the very strong Miss USA.

Top 10

A visibly nervous Miss Brazil, on the other hand, failed to cause a great impression on the judges with her interview, making room for the surprising Miss Poland.

Miss USA took the lead in swimsuit, but the very classy and elegant Miss Venezuela returned to the top in the evening gown competition.

The top 5 were Misses Colombia, Venezuela, Poland, USA, and Finland. Miss Poland, the opera singer Brygida Elzbieta Bziukiewicz, was the big upset of the night, beating all odds to become a finalist. Miss Brazil, one of the favorites, stayed behind, in 6th place.

The 5 finalists

No final question was asked in 1986, so the judges were told to ranked the 5 finalists based on their overall impressions on them throughout the competition.

Miss Finland was announced as 4th runner-up; Miss Poland was the 3rd runner-up; Miss Colombia finished as 2nd runner-up. Miss Universe would either be the gorgeous blond from Texas, Miss USA, or the very elegant and intelligent Miss Venezuela.

The 1st runner-up was Miss USA, and Barbara Palacios Teyde was Venezuela’s 3rd Miss Universe in just 8 years!

Crowning moment

Christy Fichtner, Miss USA, did not take her defeat easily. Very mad, she left Panama early in the morning the next day on a private jet.

Barbara Palacios Teyde, a Spaniard raised in Venezuela with dual citizenship, born in Madrid, in 1963, was the daughter of actor Jorge Palacios and Bárbara Teyde, a Spanish actress.

The always beautiful Barbara

Palacios has worked as a television host for over two decades, and has been a spokesperson for multinational corporations in the United States and Latin America. She has founded several advertising agencies, and as of 2010 owns the Barbara Palacios Corporation, a U.S.-based company that commercializes women products, with lines of jewelry and beauty products sold in stores under her name in Florida, United States. The Barbara Palacios Casual line of products is distributed in several Latin American countries.

In 1992, Barbara suffered a serious car accident in Madrid, in which 3 people died. She miraculously survived it for being wearing a safety belt.

Teyde has been married since the late 1980’s and has two kids. She has always been a kind, articulate and very charismatic Miss Universe, in addition to being extremely beautiful, even today.



Special thanks to Alberto Dubal!

(still competing: 1953, 1961, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1987, 1989, 2000, 2001, 2002-dethroned Oxana, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010)

Miss Universe 1986: Barbara Palacios Teyde

Colombia (3rd), Venezuela (1st), USA (2nd), Finland (5th), Poland (4th)

Miss U86

18th place – Miss Universe 1996 – Alicia Machado

18th place – Alicia Machado, Venezuela

(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 Theater for the Performing Arts in the Aladdin Resort and Casino, in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, hosted the 45th edition of Miss Universe, after Johannesburg, South Africa, stepped back due to lack of government financial support. Seventy-Nine women competed in a show hosted by Bob Goen and Marla Maples Trump.

The Class of 1996

1996 marked some important turning points in the history of Miss Universe. First of all, the internet became accessible to the masses, increasing beauty pageants’ visibility and interactivity. Photos of all candidates were available, and for the first time, Miss Photogenic was elected through popular voting. The winner was Miss Philippines, Aileen Leng Marfori Damiles, the first of many (alon with Puerto Ricans and Thais…). Most pageant followers believe that this prize, once so important and valued, became a symbol of internet hype.

Miss Australia: Miss Congeniality

Then, Donald Trump stepped in as the pageant’s co-owner, at first to please his wife at the time, Marla Maples Trump, who co-hosted the event in 1996 and 1997. Soon they would get divorced, and Maples, no longer Trump, would be out. Trump, however, decided to keep his wife’s toy, seeing that it could be turned into a profitable business.

Miss Universe 1996 did not get much press coverage. In addition to a couple of local newspapers, journalists from Latin America, especially Colombia, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Venezuela, and Philippines, gave it extensive coverage. It was the 2nd time Las Vegas hosted it (1991 being the first), but that year the pageant production was rather poor, when compared to some glorious old days.

Miss Philippines, the most voted in the internet, and MissU96

The big favorites for the crown were Miss France, the very elegant Laure Belleville, Miss USA, Ali Landry – perhaps one of the most stunning representatives the US ever elected, Miss Russia, Ilmira Shamsutdinova, and Miss Australia, Jodie McMullen. Others took to Las Vegas the experience and significant results they acquired in other “Grand Slam” pageants, like Miss Trinidad & Tobago, Michelle Kahn, 2nd runner-up in Miss World 1995, and Miss Czech Republic, Renata Hornofová, 2nd runner-up in Miss International 1995.

Often mentioned as strong possibilities as well, were:

France: favorite left out - 11th place

From the Americas: Chile, Peru, Mexico and Venezuela;

From Europe: Belgium, Italy, Cyprus and Hungary;

From Africa: Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe;

From Asia & Oceania: India and Philippines.

After an “electric” opening number, with the participation of Chelsy Smith, Miss Universe 1995, the parade of nations, in which the contestants were divided by geographical regions and preliminary scores were revealed to the audience at home, came the announcement of the “top 10″.

Miss USA: stunning!

They were: India, Finland, Peru, Sweden, Mexico, USA, Russia, El Salvador, Aruba and Venezuela.

Very close shots: France (11th), Trinidad & Tobago (12th), South Africa (13th), Belgium (14th), and Hungary (15th).

Misses Finland, Sweden, El Salvador and Aruba surprised everyone, while heavy favorites from France, Trinidad, Czech Republic and Australia, returned home empty-handed (at least Miss Australia was chosen as Miss Congeniality).

At that point, it was believed that the crown could stay in the USA, with a first back-to-back victory in Miss Universe history, or go either to Venezuela or Russia.

Venezuela: highest scores all night long

However, Miss Venezuela, Alicia Machado, who had told the Colombian magazine CROMOS that she wouldn’t mind finishing in 78th place, as long as right behind her, in last place, came Miss Colombia, shinned like no one else that night, and nailed all semi-final competitions with very high marks: 9.809 in interview, 9.820 in swimsuit, and 9.834 in evening gown.

Venezuela advanced to the ‘top 6′ in 1st place, followed by Miss USA in 2nd, surprising Aruba in 3rd, Russia in 4th, Finland in 5th, and Mexico in 6th place.

More interviews, and more surprises followed: Miss Venezuela, again in 1st place, took another important step when moving to the final 3; the other two, however, beat the odds to join her: Aruba and Finland. Favorites from Russia and USA stayed behind along with Mexico. Unexpectedly, Miss USA finished in 6th place.

Winning reaction

One same final question for all, and Bob Goen announced Miss Finland in 3rd place, Miss Aruba in 2nd, and Alicia Machado was Venezuela’s 4th Miss Universe.

Alicia was very different from most of her predecessors. If not as glamorous and refined as former Venezuelan titleholders, she was fresher and often more spontaneous. For some, too spontaneous!

Alicia’s reign was one filled with controversy. She made worldwide headlines when she appeared 25 pounds heavier. Donald Trump threatened to dethrone her, which never happened. Alicia went on a strict diet and heavy exercise routine, always surrounded by press photographers, and managed to shed some of the gained weight.

Alicia's struggle to get loose weight

After crowning her successor, Machado became an actress, starring in several Latin soaps, series and movies. In 2006, she appeared completely nude on the pages of the Mexican Playboy magazine. On November 24, 2010, BBC Mundo demanded Alicia Machado to shut her twitter account after she called for “peace between the two Chinas”, referring to North and South Korea. It unleashed a rush of insulting posts, prompting her to stay offline (at least publicly.

She is still around, currently playing a role in the soap opera “Una Familia de Suerte”.

Alicia is the winner of GB’s Most Beautiful Miss Universe from the 1990’s (1952-2010).


Alicia Machado: Venezuela's 4th Miss Universe

Top 3: Finland (3rd), Venezuela (1st), Aruba (2nd)

Beautiful Alicia moments after winning Miss U 96


19th place – Miss Universe 1963 – Ieda Maria Vargas

19th place – Ieda Maria Vargas, Brazil

(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)

In 1963 Miami Beach welcomed the Miss Universe pageant for the 4th consecutive year. The pageant’s 12th edition was held at the Miami Beach Auditorium on July 20. 50 countries competed, with Trinidad, Bahamas, Curaçao and Okinawa debuting. British Guyana and Nicaragua returned. The host was Gene Rayburn.

Miss Denmark: 2nd place

Miss Universe 1963 showed great improvement from previous editions. In reality, the creation of Miss International in Long Beach two years earlier, a pageant which in those days considered more of a competition for Miss Universe than Miss World,  made Miss U organizers realize that it was about time to modernize the event and make it more interesting for the tv audience. After all, in 1962 Miss International was considered a better organized contest than Miss Universe.

The first change to make it more popular with the locals, was copying Miss International’s open car parade, at Flager Street. Thousands of people attended the parade, hoping to get a glimpse of the most beautiful girls in the Universe and in the USA, waving back to them, who were wearing their national costumes. In addition, to show the world how big it was, MU revealed some interesting numbers: 50.000 girls would’ve competed in local, state, and national levels that year, in 50 different countries; 455 reporters and photographers covered the pageant, a coverage less extensive only than the Olympic Games (in Miss U’s own words); over 3000 people were involved in the pageant production in 50 countries + 50 American states.

Miss Brazil in her "gaucha" costume

The prizes for the winner that year would be considerably greater than in past years: USD 7500 in cash plus a one-year-contract valued in USD 10,000 (in today’s numbers, approximately USD 130,000).

The first Miss Okinawa got some massive press attention in Miami. Reiko Uehara would be asked by journalists: where’s Okinawa? Aren’t you supposed to compete in Miss Japan? Located in Southern Japan, this archipelago was under US administration from the end of World War II to 1972. It participated in Miss Universe from 1963 to 1968 independently of Japan. As a matter of fact, although reincorporated into Japan in 1972, Okinawa has always had its own very particular culture and characteristics. In its short Miss Universe history, the islands never had a semi-finalist or special award winning candidate.

The Irish Liz Taylor

Some spectacular women competed in Miss Universe 1963, and the favorites for the crown had different types of beauty and came from different corners of the planet. One of them was Denmark’s Aino Korva, a blond bombshell from Copenhagen whose face approached perfection. Miss Philippines, Lalaine Betia Bennett, had all the attributes to give Asia a second Miss Universe. She was a front-runner and major favorite for the crown. Press photographers also loved Ireland’s Marlene McKeown, whose beauty was such, that she was often compared to actress Elizabeth Taylor – she was elected ‘Miss Photogenic'; and then there was Miss Brazil, Ieda Maria Vargas, a “gaucha” (native of Rio Grande do Sul state) whose big almond eyes, stunning smile and a perfect figure, made of her the #1 bet from South America.

The first Miss Bahamas Universe

Another standout was Miss Germany, Helga Carla Ziesemer. The German candidate was just as beautiful as she was cold. She wouldn’t speak to any of the other candidates! France, Austria, and Finland were the other European regularly commented and photographed candidates. Misses Colombia, Argentina, and Peru were South American charmers, and in Asia, in addition to Miss Philippines, Miss Japan was expected to do well. Miss South Africa was thought to represent Africa in the top 15.

Miss Bahamas, Sandra Louise Young, was the black beauty who the press believed would advance to the semi-finals. It did not happen, and up to today, Bahamas has not yet had a semi-finalist in the pageant.

Some tidbits about the class of 1963:

Beauty truly ruled in MU63: Austria!

* Miss England, Susan Pratt, was ran over by a car in the first days of competition. She wasn’t able to compete, but was introduced in the final event in a wheelchair;

* The victory of Marite Ozers of Illinois in Miss USA, was a huge upset. The favorites were Misses Florida, Nevada, and Texas. Ozers was born in Latvia and later granted U.S. citizenship – she was considered to be a very snob candidate, who did not make many friends;

* Miss Cuba, Alicia Margit Chia, made a political statement by presenting the mayor of Miami with a Cuban flag containing a black strip;

* Miss Luxembourg, Mia Dahm, hated showering! Her feet were always dirty, and she got to the extreme of, when returning from the beach, not even throwing some water on them before wearing her shoes!

Top 15: no surprises

* Almost all candidates wore artificial eye lashes; a few of them dyed their hair with some sort of “instant coloring spray” which was in vogue those days. Those who did it, were criticized for not being 100% natural beauties. Imagine if they could picture what beauty candidates would be doing to their bodies and faces a few decades later!

The final event, watched by millions across the US and in several other countries, ran smoothly. The group of semi-finalists was considered practically perfect:  Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Philippines, South Africa and USA.

Perhaps the only surprise was Miss Korea, who had not been mentioned up to that point. Instead of her, Miss Peru, and Miss Bahamas, were expected to place.

Miss France

Miss Israel won the Best National Costume Award, and Miss Scotland was voted by other contestants as ‘Miss Amity’.

It was reported that the two American the the British judges, wanted a blond woman to win. When the 15 were announced, the night before the final event, they talked among themselves and decided to vote for Miss Denmark, whose beauty was unquestionable, but never showed much spark or interest in winning the title. At the final night, however, Peter Sellers felt captivated by Miss Brazil’s radiant smile and expressive eyes, and made a last-minute change in his vote. By a 1-vote-difference (Sellers’), Ieda Maria Vargas finally conquered the first Miss Universe title for her country (between 1952 and 1962, Brazil had been 2nd in three occasions, always losing in the tie-break voting, after tying with the eventual winners).

Crowning moment

Miss Denmark was 2nd. Another stunner, Miss Ireland, was 3rd, followed by the beautiful Miss Philippines in 4th place. Rounding out the ‘top 5′, was the surprising Korean doll, who was 5th. Miss Korea looked her very best in the final night, conquering the admiration of the local crowd and the judges to achieve its highest placement in Miss Universe up to that point.

It remains, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful ‘Top 5’s in Miss U history.

Just like Gladys Zender’s father in 1957, Ieda’s dad was not an easy one. After some tough negotiation with Miss Universe officials, both her parents moved to the United States to be close to her during her year of reign. Whenever possible, Ieda’s mom would accompany her in her official trips as Miss Universe.

In Brazil: saluted by millions!

Back in Brazil, Ieda was welcomed not by thousands, but by millions of people in the streets of Rio de Janeiro and her native Porto Alegre, who wanted to salute their queen! In those days, pageants were nearly as big as football in the largest South American nation, and Ieda’s victory was celebrated to the extreme, just as if Brazil had won the World Cup (as it had actually done, a year earlier).

Ana Maria Cumba, the writer of “The World of Miss Universe”, speaks highly of Ieda in her book. Cumba mentions that Ieda had not difficulty

Miss U63 in NY

to learn English in just a few months, and that she was a kind and generous woman, in addition to being charismatic and professional.

From her book: ” In the midst of our farewell tears, Ieda opened her purse and pulled out a small gift wrapped in red and told me not to open it until I got home. When I did open it there was a note, “This is your medal, you sure earned it. Thank you for the year of your life that you spent with and dedicated to me. Love, Ieda.” I was numb. Inside the box was a gold medal with the Miss Universe insignia and the date that she had won the crown. Needless to say, I felt like catching the next plane and going after her!“.

Ieda lived a few years in Miami before going back to Porto Alegre, where she got married and chose to live a private life.

Special thanks to Alberto Dubal for his valuable contribution!


(Still competing: 1953, 1961, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002-dethroned Oxana, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010)

Ieda Maria Vargas, the first Brazilian Miss Universe

Top 5: Ireland (3rd), Denmark (2nd), Brazil (1st), Philippines (4th), Korea (5th)


Miss Universe 1963, Ieda Maria Vargas

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