Miss Universe Armi Kuusela of Finland (1952)

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Miss Universe 1952 Armi Kuusela of Finland. In 1952 she won the national beauty contest Suomen Neito and was presented with a trip to the United States to participate in the first-ever Miss Universe pageant, becoming its first titleholder in history.

Armi Kuusela from Finland Becoming the First Miss Universe (1952)

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 via

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Delegates of the Miss Universe pageant of 1952, in Long Beach, California, USA by George Silk (c) LIFE Archives via

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Delegates of the Miss Universe pageant of 1952, in Long Beach, California, USA by George Silk (c) LIFE Archives via

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Armi Kuusela by George Silk (c) LIFE Archives via

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

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The ten semifinalists via

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Actress Piper Laurie crowns the first Miss Universe via

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Armi Kuusela, Miss Universe via

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Armi Kuusela, Miss Universe with the runners up via

Vintage Photos Featuring The First Miss America

Gorman was a junior at Western High School in Washington, D.C. when her photo was entered into a popularity contest at the Washington Herald. She was chosen as “Miss District of Columbia” in 1921 at age 16 on account of her athletic ability, past accomplishments, and outgoing personality.

As a result of that victory, she was invited to join the Second Annual Atlantic City Pageant held on September 8, 1921, as an honored guest. There she was invited to join a new event: the “Inter-City Beauty” Contest. She won the titles “Inter-City Beauty, Amateur” and “The Most Beautiful Bathing Girl in America” after competing in the Bather’s Revue. She won the grand prize, the Golden Mermaid trophy.

She was expected to defend her positions the next year, but someone else had attained the title of “Miss Washington, D.C.,” so she was instead crowned as “Miss America.” She is the only Miss America to receive her crown at the end of the year.

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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 via

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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 via

1921. Portrait of Margaret Gorman standing via

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Margaret Gorman in Birmingham car; whose reptilian body has an alligator finish, 1921. National Photo Company glass negative via

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Margaret Gorman with Long Goodie, 1925. National Photo Company Collection glass negative, Library of Congress via

Washington Beach Beauty Contest (1920s)

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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 via

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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 via

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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 via

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

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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 via