It was the lovely Armi Kuusela from Finland who won the first ever Miss Universe contest in 1952*, with Miss Hawaii, Miss Greece, Miss Hong Kong and Miss Germany in the runner up positions. Interestingly Miss United Kingdom, Aileen P. Chase, who was a runner up in Miss World the previous year didn’t even make it into the semi finals. Beauty is a fickle business isn’t it?
For winning Miss Finland was awarded a box of chocolates, a gold bangle and a return ticket on Pan American Airways! She gave up her crown before the end of her year-long rein to get married.
If you’re wondering why there are American States represented there alongside countries it’s because Miss USA and Miss Universe were held at the same time! It was Miss New York who won and became Miss USA for that year.
*The title Miss Universe had also been used by the International Pageant of Pulchritude in the 1920s and 30s but Miss Universe was officially founded in 1952.
Image source and copyright: Time LIFE archives