The Miss World pageant (not to be confused with Miss Universe) is an international beauty pageant founded in Great Britain by Eric Morley in 1951.

It started as the Festival Bikini Contest, in honor of the swimwear getting notoriety at the time, but was called Miss World by the press. It was originally meant as a one-time event.

Opposition to the wearing of bikinis led to their replacement with more modest swimwear after the first contest. In 1959, the BBC started broadcasting the competition. The pageant's popularity grew as the popularity of television grew.


In the 1960s and 1970s, the pageant was marred by scandals. The '60s included tabloid coverage of nude photographs and the alcoholic excesses of the winners. The rise in feminism lead to further controversy. The first winner from the United States, 1973's Marjorie Wallace, was forced to resign because of her high-profile serial dating. The 1974 winner resigned four days later after it was discovered she was a single mother. In 1977, a United Nations boycott was organized because of the pageant permitting the participation of South Africa, a participation which ended the next year. The 1980 winner Gabriela Brum of Germany resigned one day after winning initially claiming that her boyfriend disapproved. A few days later it emerged that she had been forced to resign after it was discovered that she posed naked for a magazine.

In the 1980s, the pageant repositioned itself with the slogan Beauty With a Higher Purpose. The contest added tests of intelligence and personality. By the 1990s, the pageant was reaching two billion viewers from almost every country in the world.

21st century

Eric Morley passed away as the pageant entered the new century. The century saw its first black winner, Agbani Darego, in 2001. In 2002 the competition was slated for Nigeria. This choice was controversial, as a woman, Amina Lawal, was awaiting death by stoning for adultery there. A newspaper editorial suggesting that Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, would not have objected to the immodesty of the pageant resulted in riots that started on November 22 in which over 200 people were killed. Because of these riots, the 2002 pageant was moved to London. A fatwa urging the beheading of the woman who wrote the offending words, Isioma Daniel, has been issued.

Title holders

YearMiss WorldCountry
1951Kiki HaakonsonSweden
1952May Louise FlodinSweden
1953Denise PerrierFrance
1954Antigone CostandaEgypt
1955Carmen Duijm ZubillagaVenezuela
1956Petra Susana ShurmannWest Germany
1957Marita LindahlFinland
1958Penelope Anne CoelenSouth Africa
1959Corine RottschaferNetherlands
1960Norma Gladys CappagliArgentina
1961Rosemarie FranklandUnited Kingdom
1962Catharina LoddersHolland
1963Carole Joan CrawfordJamaica
1964Ann SydneyUnited Kingdom
1965Lesley LangleyUnited Kingdom
1966Reita FariaIndia
1967Madeleine Hartog BellPeru
1968Penelope PlummerAustralia
1969Eva Rueber StaierAustria
1970Jennifer HostenGrenada
1971Lucia Tavares PetterleBrazil
1972Belinda GreenAustralia
1973Marjorie WallaceUnited States
1974Anneline Kriel 1South Africa
1975Wilnelia MercedPuerto Rico
1976Cindy BreakspeareJamaica
1977Mary StavinSweden
1978Silvana SuarezArgentina
1979Gina SwainsonBermuda
1980Kimberley Santos 2Guam
1981Pilin LeonVenezuela
1982Mariasela AlvarezDominican Republic
1983Sarah-Jane HuttUnited Kingdom
1984Astrid HerreraVenezuela
1985Hofi KarlsdottirIceland
1986Giselle LaRondeTrinidad and Tobago
1987Ulla WeigerstorferAustria
1988Linda PetursdottirIceland
1989Aneta KreglickaPoland
1990Gina Marie TollesonUnited States
1991Ninibeth JiminezVenezuela
1992Julia KourotchkinaRussia
1993Lisa HannaJamaica
1994Aishwarya RaiIndia
1995Jacqueline Aguilera MarcanoVenezuela
1996Irene SklivaGreece
1997Diana HaydenIndia
1998Linor AbargilIsrael
1999Yukta MookheyIndia
2000Priyanka ChopraIndia
2001Agbani DaregoNigeria
2002Azra AkinTurkey
2003Rosanna DavisonIreland
1 Crowned after Helen Morgan of the United Kingdom resigned.
2 Crowned after Gabriella Brum of West Germany resigned

See also: Miss Earth, Miss Universe

External links and references