The First Miss Universe (1952) – Armi Kuusela from Finland

The first Miss Universe pageant, was held on 28 June 1952 at the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium in Long Beach, California, USA.

It was held concurrently with the Miss USA pageant. 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 (source).

Thirty contestants competed for the crown. The winner was 17-year-old Armi Kuusela of Finland, who was crowned by actress Piper Laurie.

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.

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Delegates of the Miss Universe pageant of 1952, in Long Beach, California. USA

 by George Silk (c) LIFE Archives

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Delegates of the Miss Universe pageant of 1952, in Long Beach, California. USA

 by George Silk (c) LIFE Archives

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messynessychic.com

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Delegates of the Miss Universe pageant of 1952, in Long Beach, California. USA

 by George Silk (c) LIFE Archives

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messynessychic.com

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Armi Kuusela by George Silk (c) LIFE Archives

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messynessychic.com

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 The first Miss Universe pageant at the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium, 1952

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The ten semifinalists

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Actress Piper Laurie crowns the first Miss Universe

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Armi Kuusela, Miss Universe

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Armi Kuusela, Miss Universe with the runners up.

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