Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Miss Universe Pageant

Harbor Commissioner John P. Davis with Miss Universe Hillevi Rombin of Sweden at Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe Revue, Nov. 8, 1955.
The Miss Universe Pageant? What does the Port of Long Beach have to do with a beauty pageant? Well, the Port for many years has been heavily involved in sponsoring major civic institutions and events -- today the Port sponsors the July 4 fireworks, the Long Beach Sea Festival, the Grand Prix, and literally dozens of other festivities and programs, large and small, throughout Long Beach.

In 1952, one of the newest and biggest civic events was the Miss Universe Pageant, which was first held here at the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium (Armi Kuusela of Finland won the title, and the Miss USA Pageant was held at the same time). Miss Universe held eight pageants in Long Beach before moving to Miami for a long stint; now the ceremony moves among the participating countries.

The Port of Long Beach Miss Universe float, 1955.
Naturally as a civic supporter the Port did its utmost to boost the contest; it ran a float in the annual Miss Universe parade along Ocean Boulevard and hosted the contestants on harbor cruises, at Disneyland and at various events around town. In fact, after Miss Universe left the Port continued to host contestants in the International Beauty Congress competition -- you can see a photo of some of them feeding the sea lions at Pierpoint Landing here.

The Port archives don't have any photos of the ceremonies (although there's a lot of film on YouTube of crownings), but the other events offer great snapshots of Ocean Boulevard, early days at Disneyland and of course some glimpses of 1950s fashion. Enjoy!

You can read more about Miss Universe here.

See a photo gallery of Miss Universe and the Port here.

The 1955 parade rides past "The Seven Year Itch" playing at the Fox West Coast on Ocean.

No comments: