France 1st grand slam winner in world beauty pageants

FUNFARE UPDATE - Ricky Lo - The Philippine Star
France 1st grand slam winner in world beauty pageants
France’s two Misses Universe: Christiane Martel in 1953 (left) and Iris Mittenaere in 2016

There’s a “60” difference between the first time France won the Miss Universe crown in 1953 (Christiane Martel) and the second one (Iris Mittenaere) in the just-concluded Miss U pageant in Manila. Back then, there were only 26 aspirants compared to 86 in the recent one.

Iris said that her victory will surely revive her countrymen’s interest in the pageant which dropped during the 63-year drought. What many people probably didn’t know is that France was the first country to score a grand slam in major world pageants.

“On July 17, 1953, Christiane Martel won as the second Miss Universe in Long Beach California, USA, besting 25 other beauties including the Philippine delegate Cristina Pacheco,” recalled Funfare contributor Celso de Guzman Caparas. Christiane was crowned by American actress Judy Adams since 1952 winner Armi Kuusela gave up her crown when she got engaged and eventually married Filipino businessman Virgilio Hilario. Christiane became a popular film and television actress. One of her memorable films was Adam & Eve in which she played Eve.”

Three months later (Oct. 19, 1953), Denise Périer, another French beauty, won the third Miss World crown in Lyceum Ballroom, London, United Kingdom. The Miss International pageant would start seven years later, in 1960 with Stella Marquez as the first winner.

“A day before the preliminary competition,” noted Celso, “Iris celebrated her 24th birthday (on Jan. 25). She was 2015 Miss Flanders. Iris was in her fifth year as a dental surgery student when she represented Nord-Pas-de-Calais in the 2016 Miss France pageant held in Lille, Northern France, her birthplace. For the record, France is one of the countries with a perfect attendance since the inception of Miss Universe pageant in 1952.”

More notes from Celso:

France has an impressive record: two winners (1953 and 2016); a Top 5 placer in 2015 (Flora Coquerel); seven Top 10 placers (1964 Edith Noël, 1991 Maréva Georges, 2000 Sonia Rolland, 2001 Elodie Gossuin, 2009 Chloe Mortaud, 2011 Laury Thilleman and 2012 Marie Payet); a Top 12 placer in 1971 (Myriam Stocco); seven Top 15 placers (1956 Anita Treyens; 1959 Françoise St-Laurent; 1961 Simone Darot; 1963 Monique Lemaire; 1968 Elizabeth Cadren, also Top 15 Best in Swimsuit; 2010 Malika Ménard and 2014 Camille Cerf), and a Top 16 placer in 1954 (Jacqueline Beer).

1957 bet Lisa Simon was Miss Friendship third place (along with Misses Turkey, Japan and Mexico). In 1980, Brigitte Anne Marie Choque was Best National Costume second place. 1975 Miss U delegate Sophia Sonia Perin competed a year later in the 1976 Miss International and won the crown, the first and only Miss International winner from France.

France is now the fifth country with the most number of Miss U winners with two, along with Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Finland, India, Japan, Mexico, Thailand and Trinidad & Tobago. The Top 4 are USA (with eight), Venezuela (seven), Puerto Rico (five), and Philippines and Sweden (three each).

Election lawyer Romy Macalintal and wife Mila

More on Miss U

From election lawyer Romy Macalintal, this account:

The show started with a funny film with host Steve Harvey discussing with his gang an “escape plan” in case he commits the same mistake he accidentally committed in the 2015 Miss Universe tilt when he erroneously announced that Miss Colombia was Miss Universe of 2015 only to apologize and correct himself to announce that it was actually Miss Philippines Pia Wurtzbach who won that coveted title.

And he ended the show saying, “I’m glad I did it right tonight.”

Yes, that grave error of Steve in the 64th Miss Universe pageant was practically the source of a lively and more animated beauty pageant of the 65th Miss Universe pageant held at the MOA Arena in Pasay City. Several times Steve poked fun at his said unforgettable blunder to the delight and joy of the full-packed audience at the MOA and the millions of people all over the world watching the event live on their television sets.

My wife, Mila, and I watched it live at the MOA Arena as my gift to her on her birthday last Jan. 28. It was a very memorable experience that may not happen again during my lifetime, so I made it sure that I would witness such a treasured event with her.

Bialik in Oliver Tolentino

Actress Mayim Bialik wore a red-corded lace cocktail dress by designer Oliver Tolentino at the recent 43rd People’s Choice Awards. The actress has worn outfits from the Beverly Hills-based designer about a half-dozen times, including at last year’s Critics’ Choice Awards where she won Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. In that speech, she noted it was her first time ever to win an individual award. — Photo by Sthanlee B. Mirador


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