The First Miss Universe Pageant, 1952

By

19th Jun, 2014

missuniverse

Beauty pageants are a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine. We all know they’re silly and superficial but does anyone else here count Drop Dead Gorgeous as one of their favourite comedies from the 90s? What I like about this photo series that I pulled out of the trusty LIFE archives, is the behind-the-scenes element that photographer George Silk has managed to capture. Amusing sideways glares exchanged between the girls, awkward moments and competitive streaks shining through, this photo story has plenty of it…

missuniverse5

We’re at the first ever Miss Universe and Miss USA pageant– not to be confused with Miss AmericaMiss United StatesMiss United States International, or Miss Earth United States (because that doesn’t make things confusing at all). In 1952 both pageants were held concurrently for the first time in Long Beach, California, which will explain why Miss Japan standing in between Miss Montana and Miss Colorado…  

missuniverse2

The two pageants were founded after winner of the rival Miss America pageant in 1950, refused to pose for publicity pictures while wearing a swimsuit. Pageant sponsor Catalina decided to pull their sponsorship off the pageant and create their own competition.

missuniverse11

missuniverse6

Ladies, forget the bums and thighs for a second and check out the fabulous shoes…!

missinida

Lovely Miss India, Indrani Rahman, a classical dancer of Indian style which she popularized in the west, and later settled in New York in 1976.

missuniverse4

misssweden

missturkey

misshongkong

Miss Hong Kong, Judy Dan, went onto sign a contract with Universal and played a small role in The King and I before she retired from acting and married.

missgreece

missuniverse3

You might have noticed Miss Philippines has some of the best expressions in this photostory.

missphillipines

missuniverse17

misshawaii

Miss Hawaii in the middle there came 1st runner-up in Miss Universe when the state was not yet part of the union.

missvenezuela

missuniverse15

missuniverse20

missuniverse10

And the winner is …. drumroll please…

missfinland

Miss Finland, Armi Helena Kuusela. Less than a year later after being crowned, Kuusela chose to give up her Miss Universe crown to marry and settle in the Philippines where she had five children with her Filipino husband.

All photos by George Silk (c) LIFE Archives

You might also like

Comments

More in Art & Design AwesomenessInspiration VaultMovie / Music / Book JunkieTeeny Tiny Stuff

Hot Off the Press

Editor's Picks

9vedP

Bohemian Grove: The Secret Society Summer Camp

I just spent the morning finding out everything I can on the Bohemian Grove. For two weeks every summer, the 2,700 acre secured private camp in the Ancient Redwood Forest of Northern California, pl...

Trending 368
playboypink

13 Things I Found on the Internet Today (Vol. CXC)

1. The socialite buried wearing a lace nightgown inside her 1964 Ferrari Sandra West was a Beverly Hills socialite and wife of Texas oil tycoon Ike West. When she made her will, she requested th...

Trending 2,026
antleroom

Inside the Shed of the Antlerman

I'm slightly nervous about posting this article. Not only am I a little freaked out by this place myself, but I have a feeling I might get some flak for it. The problem is, I'm completely in awe ...

Trending 2,808
btv1b90181613

The Art of the 1960s Paris Riots

Forty-eight years ago this month, revolution was brewing in Paris. Right outside my window in the Latin Quarter, from where I write this post to you, violent street battles were turning the city...

Trending 2,867