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

 by George Silk (c) LIFE Archives

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Armi Kuusela by George Silk (c) LIFE Archives

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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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The First Miss America, Margaret Gorman (1905-1995)


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1921. Inter-City Beauties Ethel Charles, Nellie Orr and Margaret Gorman at Union Station in Washington, D.C.

National Photo Company glass negative.

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1921. Miss America was held for the first time to attract tourists to Atlantic City. Margaret Gorman, third on the left.

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1921. Margaret Gorman winning 1st prize at Atlantic City

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1921. Portrait of Margaret Gorman standing.

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1921. Margaret Gorman in Birmingham car; whose reptilian body has an alligator finish.

National Photo Company glass negative

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1925. Margaret Gorman with Long Goodie.

Margaret became somewhat of a socialite and enjoyed traveling. She lived all her life in Washington D.C.

National Photo Company Collection glass negative, Library of Congress.

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1920s Washington Beach Beauty Contest

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June 17, 1922. “Washington Ad Club bathing costume contest at Tidal Basin.” Miss Anna Niebel, “former Follies girl who lives at 1370 Harvard street northwest,” took first place. Harris & Ewing glass negative.

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August 5, 1922.”Washington Tidal Basin Beauty Contest” Seventeen-year-old Eva Fridell takes the loving cup from judge Isaac Gans. National Photo Company Collection glass negative.

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August 5, 1922.”Washington Tidal Basin Beauty Contest” Seventeen-year-old Eva Fridell takes the loving cup from judge Isaac Gans. National Photo Company Collection glass negative.

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August 5, 1922.”Washington Tidal Basin Beauty Contest” ” Misses Eva Fridell, 17, and Anna Niebel. National Photo Company glass negative.

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Four prize winners in the 1922 beauty show at Washington Bathing Beach, Washington, D.C. Left to right: Gay Gatley, Eva Fridell, Anna Neibel, Iola Swinnerton. National Photo Company Collection.

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