Iêda Maria Vargas (1963) – Then
After being crowned Miss Brasil earlier that year, Iêda was put forward to the Miss Universe competition. The contest took place in Miami Beach, Florida, and she was given her crown by Maria Olivia Reboucas. When she won, she became the first Brazilian to ever win a major beauty pageant internationally, which got her widespread acclaim and a huge fanbase. During the year of her reign as Miss Universe, she opened the Capital Plaza Mall, in Maryland.
Iêda Maria Vargas – Now
Vargas decided to retire from the spotlight after her time as Miss Universe in 1963. She stayed in America, living in Miami for around five years, before returning to Brazil to live the quiet life. She is still quite the celebrity in her own country, but her fame has not spread around the globe, as she would prefer to stay low-profile. She is now 72 years old, and a permanent resident in Brazil, living her life.
Maritza Sayalero (1979) – Then
The first woman from Venezuela to win Miss Universe, Maritza Sayalero rose to fame in 1979 with her win. She won the contest by a landslide, winning the interview, evening gown and swimsuit competitions in the pageant, which took place in Perth, Australia. Notably, the stage collapsed at the end of the show, and Maritza actually saved another contestant from falling into a large hole and injuring herself.
Maritza Sayalero – Now
One of the iconic heroes of her country, many families named their children after Maritza Sayalero and there was even a ship named for her, the Maritza Sayalero! She later married tennis player Raul Ramirez, and became a Mexican citizen. They have three children together, and live in Baja California. She is now a businesswomen, with a boutique which sells designs of her own making, living a moderately quiet life.
Yvonne Ryding (1984) – Then
Yvonne had an interesting route to being the third Miss Universe winner from Sweden, as she was formerly both a soccer player and a nurse! She was crowned in 1984, after becoming a Swedish National Lucia Bride. She used her win as a platform to start working in the fashion and beauty industry, but after just a few years, she moved back to Sweden.
Yvonne Ryding – Now
Yvonne married Kjell Bergvist in 1986, and stayed with him until 1999. The couple had two daughters, Nathalie and Sandra. She launched a skincare product range in 1997, which she called Y. Ryding, and she was invited as a guest in 2006 to that years Miss Universe competition which was held in Los Angeles. The following year, she competed on the Swedish TV show, Let’s Dance, but was eliminated before the show finished.
Gloria Diaz (1969) – Then
In 1969, Gloria Diaz was the first person from the Philippines to be crowned Miss Universe. She joined the world of pageantry as a teenager, and was only 18 when she won the Miss Universe title. Her memorable interview round in the final five, included the question “If a man from the moon landed in your hometown, what would you do to entertain him?” She answered “Oh, just the same things I do. I think if he has been on the moon for so long, I think when he comes over he wants to change.”
Gloria Diaz – Now
Gloria Diaz is now considered an accomplished Phillipine actress, famously starring in a TV adaptation of Anna Karenina, as well as the sitcom Kooi Ka Lang. She won a FAMAS award for Best Supporting Actress for her part in the thriller Nasaan Ka Man, and then another one for her part in Sagrada Familia. She was married to businessman Gabriel Daza, and although they are separated, they have three children.
Margaret Gardiner (1978) – Then
In 1978, Margaret Gardiner became the first woman from South Africa to take home the title of Miss Universe. She was only 18 years old! During the three semi-final rounds, she finished up 4th place, but the final question saw her scooping the #1 spot. “What have you learned from your experience on Miss Universe?” before answering the question she told the world that she believes that all nations can get on very well.
Margaret Gardiner – Now
Margaret Gardiner is pretty well educated, with a BA in Psychology from the College of Charleston and she is also an author of two published books on health and beauty. She is part of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association which is the company which hosts the Golden Globes. Married to Andre Nel, she is widely known now as a television and newspaper journalist, and the couple live in Los Angeles.
Armi Kuusela (1952) – Then
You’re looking at the first ever Miss Universe title holder, Armi Helena Kuusela. She was born in 1932, and won the title at age 20, in 1952. She had previously won the national pageant title from Finland, Suomen Neito. A Finnish movie was made about her life, called the World’s Most Beautiful Girl, which she starred in as herself. She gave up her crown in 1952, and married Virgilio Hilario, after only a few months together.
Armi Kuusela – Now
Unfortunately, the love was not for a lifetime. Hilario died in 1975, and Kuusela managed to find a new husband, diplomat Albert Williams. They lived around Europe, in both Spain and Turkey, before moving to the United States, where she now lives in California. She has been given an honor from her home country of Finland, called the Order of the White Rose of Finland. She is active in charity work, especially cancer research.
Oxana Fedorova (2002) – Then
Oxana Fedorova might be one of the most controversial Miss Universe’s of all time. She was crowned in 2002, after winning Miss Russia, but she was ‘dethroned’ only four months later. The rumors included secret marriages and pregnancies, but the official party line was that she “failed in her duties.” Miss Panama was crowned Miss Universe instead, Justine Pasek, making Oxana the first Miss Universe to be effectively fired.
Oxana Fedorova – Now
To this day, it is not exactly clear what happened with Fedorova. “We worked hard with Oxana,” Donald Trump, who owned the Miss Universe pageant at the time said. “But a lot of these events are for charity and you just have to be there. She wasn’t able to be there, so we had no choice but to terminate.” Oxana is now a famous celebrity in Russia, hosting the kids show Good Night Little Ones. She has also participated in Politics, Music, and Film.
Sylvia Hitchcock (1967) – Then
Sylvia Hitchcock was born in the USA, actually born on a chicken farm in the state of Florida, even though she would win Miss USA for the State of Alabama. She was a junior in University when she won Miss USA and decided to drop out to try her hand at the Miss Universe title. After she won, she stayed in New York City where she hoped to become a model. The life wasn’t right for her, and she went back to Florida where she worked at a local television station.
Sylvia Hitchcock – Now
Sylvia married William Carson in 1970, and Sylvia and William had three children together, and then seven grandchildren. William was known for inventing a machine which harvested fruit. She was invited back in 1972 to be on the panel of judges for Miss Universe, so helped to elect Kerry Anne Wells as Miss Universe, but sadly, Sylvia Hitchcock died in 2015 at only 69 years old, from cancer.
Jennifer Hawkins (2004) – Then
After being crowned Miss Universe Australia, Jennifer Hawins went on to take the title of Miss Universe in 2004. She caused some sensation during the competition for some of her expensive and unique clothing and jewellery choices, including a $25,000 Bora copper gown which she wore in the evening gown round. When she won the crown, she was the first blonde Miss Universe since Angela Visser, way back in 1989!
Jennifer Hawkins – Now
Hawkins is now the host of popular reality TV show, Australia’s Next Top Model, as well as the official face of the department store, Myer and a handful of other Australian brands. She is also a businesswoman, founding brands Cozi and Jbronze. Cozi is a swimwear company, while JBronze sells tanning goods. She met Jake Wall while she was on the beach one day, and the two are now married! You might remember her on the fourth season of Dancing with the Stars.
Brooke Lee (1997) – Then
After being crowned as Miss Hawaii, Brook Lee then took the title of Miss Universe in 1997. She represented the USA in the competition, and when she won, she became the oldest winner of the competition since it began, at 26 years old and 128 days! She has some Korean background, with her grandfather emigrating to Hawaii in the 1950’s. Brooke helped to petition for the 1998 pageant to be held in Hawaii for the first time ever.
Brook Lee – Now
Always well educated, Brook has a graduate degree in communications from the University of Hawaii. She had achieved some success as a minor celebrity since her win, hosting regional television shows, as well as episodes of Great Cruises on the Travel Channel. She has had a few cameo’s on television and in film as well, and is known as a TV host in Asia as well as the United States. She’s also done some modelling work.
Rina Mor (1976) – Then
Born near Haifa, Rina Mor was the first Miss Israel to win the title, with her maiden name Rina Messinger. When she was asked during the interview round which country she would most like to visit, she replied “An Arab one.” On winning the title, she famously said “I’m no politician. I think my being Miss Universe will show people that Israel has another side, not only war.” She has written a book about her experiences as Miss Universe.
Rina Mor – Now
Staying in New York City after her reign was over, Rina married and had two daughters. She trained to be a lawyer at Tel Aviv University, and then moved to the Netherlands, where she began practicing family law. In 2002, they came back to Israel, where they now live. Rina is a bit of a celebrity still, appearing weekly on Channel 10 where she talks about family law, and she has also been a judge on the Miss Israel contest.
Miriam Stevenson (1954) – Then
Just two years after the Miss Universe pageant started, Miriam Stevenson was the first Miss USA to scoop the title. Memorably, there was a tie between her and Martha Rocha, and Stevenson won the pageant based on her ‘better figure.’ Miriam was clearly embarrassed by the awkward win, and she gave away the car that she won as part of her Miss Universe package to Rocha as a sort of consolation prize.
Miriam Stevenson – Now
After her year as Miss Universe, Stevenson went back to her home state of South Carolina and finished her education. She then became a TV host, meeting her husband Donald Upton, and keeping her career as a model going at the same time as her relationship. She has also been a pageant judge as well as acting in various television commercials since her win. Her and Donald had two kids together, one of whom is Donald Upton Jr.
Angela Visser (1989) – Then
Interestingly, Angela Visser had competed only a few months before the Miss Universe pageant for Miss World 1988, where she did not even place amongst the finalists, despite winning Miss Holland. Something magic must have been in the air in 1989, where she was clearly the favorite of all of the panel judges, giving her a landslide win. Second place went to the Swedish pick, Louise Drevenstam.
Angela Visser – Now
You may recognize Angela Visser because since her days as Miss Universe, she has become an actress, with guest appearances on hit shows such as Friends, Blossom, Beverly Hills 90210, and Boy Meets World. She has also been in a couple of films, including Hot Under the Collar, and Killer Tomatoes Eat France! She is also known for commentating for some of the more recent pageants, so the ‘Universe’ has clearly been good to her!
Lara Dutta (2000) – Then
Lara Dutta won the crown of Miss Universe in 2000, and was only the second Indian woman to ever get this title. She went to the University of Mumbai, where she studied Economics, and she can speak four languages. She is famous for obtaining the highest individual score in any category in the history of the whole Miss Universe competition, which she won for her interview round. Most of the judges gave her 9.99.
Lara Dutta – Now
Lara Dutta used her success as Miss Universe to launch a successful Bollywood career. Her debut performance was in 2003, in the romantic film Andaaz. For this she won an award for Best Female Debut. This catapulted her to fame in the Hindi film world, and she is now known for her top grossing productions and movies. She is married to Mahesh Bhupathi and they have one child together.
Chelsi Smith (1995) – Then
Chelsi was raised by her grandparents, after her parents who were teenagers when they had her, divorced before she turned two. She dropped out of college to become Miss USA, after being the first person with African American heritage to win a title as Miss Galveston County USA. In Miss Universe, she achieved the highest Swimsuit score, and was the highest placed contestant overall until 2000, when Lara Dutta stole that title.
Chelsi Smith – Now
After the pageant year, Chelsi went into modelling, working for Venus Swimwear, Pure Protein, and Pontiac, as well as other famous brands. She also tried her hand in the music industry, co-recording a song with Damon Elliot, Dom Da Da. It was featured in the movie, The Sweetest Thing with Cameron Diaz. She was also in the film Playas Ball, and hosted a Beyonce Knowles special for Pay Per View. She married Kelly Blair, but the couple later divorced.
Michelle McLean (1992) – Then
In 1992, Michelle McLean became the first and only woman from Namibia to win Miss Universe. This is even more remarkable considering she was only the second woman to ever represent Namibia as a country! She has been modelling since she was 13 years old, and has worked as an MC in more than 25 countries around the world. Many say her natural warmth and love of children was what helped her bag the Miss Universe crown.
Michelle McLean – Now
Michelle works tirelessly on behalf of many charities, and has even founded her own foundation, the Michelle McLean Children Trust, in Namibia. She funded the building of a Primary School which has almost 900 children. As well as her philanthropy, Michelle works as a model and a businesswoman, the face of Lux Lotion, and a Director of an Estate Agency. She has also launched her own jewellery range!
Cecilia Bolocco (1987) – Then
Born in Chile, Cecilia Bolocco won Miss Universe in 1987, which was held in Singapore. She then decided to settle down in California. Before her time as Miss Universe she was looking into a career in costume design, but afterwards she decided to pursue work in the media, starting out with the show Porque hoy es Sabado (Because it’s Saturday) in Chile. She married Michael Young in 1990, with huge media attention and fanfare.
Cecilia Bolocco – Now
Later, Cecilia became an anchorwoman for the Spanish section of CCN, and got her own show, Tonight with Cecilia Bolocco which she won two Emmy’s for. She is also known for playing the part of Karina in Morelia, which aired in more than 70 countries. After annulling her marriage to Michael Young, she married ex president Carlos Menem from Argentina. They separated in 2007 and divorced in 2011.
Linda Bement -(1960) – Then
Born in 1941, Linda Bement took the title of Miss Universe in 1960, when the pageant was just 8 years old. She had previously been Miss Utah and then Miss USA. She is a well known winner of the famous title, mainly because 1960 was the first year that the pageant was televised nationwide, for everyone to watch. She was the second woman from Utah to be crowed Miss USA, and the third Miss USA to take the Miss Universe title.
Linda Bement – Now
After the competition, Linda has mostly lived a quiet life, out of the spotlight. She got married just two years after she won the title, to a man from Panama, Manuel Ycaza. He would later become a thoroughbred racing jockey, who was inducted into the U.S Racing Hall of Fame! They were only together for seven years, but had two children together before their divorce. Linda is now 76 years old.