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Rediff News  All News  » Getahead » Miss World: 9 facts about the pageant you probably didn't know

Miss World: 9 facts about the pageant you probably didn't know

September 27, 2013 19:57 IST

Image: Competitors in the first Miss World contest at the Empire Rooms on Tottenham Court Road, London.
Photographs: Edward Miller/Keystone/Getty Images

As the 63rd Miss World pageant goes underway, we bring you some facts that you may have not known!

Miss World is the oldest surviving international beauty pageant. Launched in 1951 by Eric Morley, who by then had introduced ballroom dancing to television through the show Come Dancing, the pageant began as Festival Bikini Contest but was dubbed as Miss World by the media.

What started out as a one-off event became an annual extravaganza after Morley heard of a similar concept being institutionalised by the Americans -- the Miss Universe pageant.

Today it is part of the Big Four beauty pageants alongside Miss Universe, Miss International and Miss Earth.

Miss World: 9 facts about the pageant you probably didn't know

Image: 17th November 1966: Miss India, Reita Faria is crowned Miss World 1966 at the Lyceum Theatre, London. Beside her are runners-up Miss Greece (left) and Miss Yugoslavia (Nikica Marinovic), who were awarded third and second place respectively.
Photographs: Wesley/Keystone/Getty Images

Miss India, Reita Faria became the first Asian to be crowned Miss World in 1966… but you probably knew that. What followed isn't as well documented.

The Government of India wasn't very happy with the fact that the Faria joined the legendary American entertainer Bob Hope to South Vietnam as part of the cheering up brigade to South Vietnam and met the American soldiers at a time when New Delhi supported Ho Chi Minh's Communist government in North Vietnam.

More about Reita Faria in this exclusive piece from our archives!

Miss World: 9 facts about the pageant you probably didn't know

Image: Helen Morgan, Miss United Kingdom is crowned Miss World 1974.
Photographs: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Winner of the 1974 contest, Helen Morgan became the first Miss World winner to resign. Anneline Kriel of South Africa who was first runner-up succeeded her.

Morgan, a Welsh model was a bank employee and was an occasional participant in beauty pageants in the UK. She had won the Miss Wales and Miss United Kingdom titles in 1974 and represented UK in the Miss Universe pageant where she was first runner-up to Spain's Amparo Munoz.

Interestingly, after Munoz resigned before her reign ended, the crown wasn't offered to anyone including Morgan.

In any case, Helen Morgan also represented the UK at Miss World and won.

To think that a hesitant Morgan was paid £30 as a last-minute stand-in when another competitor dropped out at the Miss Wales competition earlier!

However barely four days after her stupendous victory, it was discovered that Helen Morgan was a mother of a one-and-a-half year old baby boy. Even though this did not violate the pageant rules -- all participants had to be unmarried -- Morgan had to resign.

Miss South Africa Anneline Kriel succeeded her.

Miss World: 9 facts about the pageant you probably didn't know

Image: Carmen Susana Duijm Zubillaga of Venezuela after being crowned Miss World 1955 at the Lyceum Ballroom, London, 21st October 1955. First runner-up Margaret Anne Haywood of the USA can be seen on the left.
Photographs: Terry Fincher/Getty Images

Carmen Susana Duijm Zubillaga of Venezuela became the first Latin-American to win Miss World in 1955.

With six wins, Venezuela has the most number of Miss World titles. After Duijm, five other Venezuelan beauties went on to wear the crown:  Pilin Leon won the title in 1981 followed by Astrid Carolina Herrera in 1984, Ninibeth Leal in 1991 Jacqueline Aguilera in 1995 and Ivian Sarcos in 2011.

Miss World: 9 facts about the pageant you probably didn't know

Image: Miss World 2001 Nigeria Agbani Darego (R), 18, is crowned by former Miss World from India Priyanka Chopra (L) during the final at the Sun City west of Johannesburg November 16, 2001. From a field of 93 contestants, Darego took first place ahead of Zerelda Lee, of Aruba and Scotland's Juliet-Jane Horne.
Photographs: Juda Ngwenya/Reuters

It wouldn't be exactly f-i-f-t-y years since its inception before a black African would wear the Miss World crown. Agbani Darego of Nigeria was crowned in 2001 by our very own Priyanka Chopra at Sun City in South Africa.

According to the news agency Reuters, the pageant was beamed to a projected global television audience of 1.2 billion people.

Miss World: 9 facts about the pageant you probably didn't know

Image: (L-R) Reita Faria, Aishwarya Rai, Diana Hayden, Yukta Mookhey and Priyanka Chopra
Photographs: Wesley/Keystone/Getty Images, Juda Ngwenya/Reuters, Mike Hutchings/Reuters, Kieran Doherty/Reuters and Reuters photographer/Reuters

With five Indian beauty queens having held the title in the pageant's history, India ranks second only after Venezuela in the title ranking. The Miss India winners who won the crown include Reita Faria (1966), Aishwarya Rai (1994), Diana Hayden (1997) Yukta Mookhey (1999) and Priyanka Chopra (2000).

Miss World: 9 facts about the pageant you probably didn't know

Image: Miss India, Priyanka Chopra (R) is crowned by Miss World 1999, Yukta Mookhey after winning the Miss World contest at the Millennium Dome in London November 30, 2000. Ninety-five girls from various different countries around the world competed for the coveted title of Miss World, as the contest celebrates its 50th anniversary.
Photographs: Reuters

India holds yet another distinction in the Miss World history. It is only one of the three countries to have won consecutive victories:

May Louise Flodin of Sweden was crowned Miss World 1952 the year after her fellow citizen Kicki Hakansson won the crown in 1951.

Ann Sidney and Lesley Langley of the United Kingdom won the title in 1964 and 1965 respectively.

The feat was repeated for the last time by Priyanka Chopra after the previous year's winner Yukta Mookhey crowned her Miss World in 2000.

Miss World: 9 facts about the pageant you probably didn't know

Image: Miss Peru Maria Julia Mantilla Garcia (C) celebrates with other contestants after being crowned Miss World 2004 on December 4, 2004 in Sanya, on China's southern resort island of Hainan.
Photographs: China Photos/Getty Images

When Maria Julia Mantilla was crowned Miss World in 1984, she became the second recipient of the crown from Peru after Madeline Hartog-Bel won the title in 1967. The two victories are separated by 37 years -- the longest interval between title wins.

Miss World: 9 facts about the pageant you probably didn't know

Image: Antigone Costanda
Photographs: Wikimedia Creative Commons

The 1954 Miss World Antigone Costanda became the first Miss Egypt to win the Miss World title for Egypt.

However the following year, Costanda refused to turn up at the contest held in London to relinquish her crown as a mark of protest against the political hostilities between Egypt and Britain over the Suez Canal.

It was left to the British actress Eunice Gayson to crown the new Miss World in 1955 -- Miss Venezuela, Carmen Susana Duijm Zubillaga who would become the first Latin American beauty to win the title!