FROM BAD TO WORSE - The 1970's

By the 1970's, the feminist movement was well on its it way to doing all that it could to rid the world of "cattleshows" as they referred to pageants. The first pageant of the decade, hosted by the venerable Bob Hope, was marred when protestors booed and pelted the stage of with smoke bombs and flour bombs.

And just to get things off on the wrong heel as well, there were cries of "rigged" when Miss Grenada, Jennifer Hosten, was named Miss World 1970.  Most felt that Miss Sweden, Maj Johansson, should have won the title. She did in fact receive four first place votes against Jennifer’s two...but due to the mysterious and convoluted scoring system contrived by director Eric Morley, Jennifer came out the winner.  To try and explain the voting system here would be most difficult and may be worthy of a Master Class on its own. Also, we should point out that the Prime Minister of Grenada was a member of the judging panel. Hmmmm.

Despite its many missteps and the protests of feminists, the Miss World Pageant captivated British television audiences in the 1960's and 1970's.  Aired on BBC since the late 1950's, the pageant always garnered high ratings.  Miss World 1970, for instance, was the single most-watched show of the entire year.

Perhaps Miss World’s complex scoring system contributed to the winning of two titleholders from the early 1970's who proved to be exceptionally scandalous.  In 1973, the USA won its first Miss World crown, after five "places" as first runner-up (1954, 1955, 1956, 1965, and 1969).

However, the winner, Marjorie Wallace of Indiana, was fired as Miss World less than four months after winning the title. She had failed to fulfill the basic requirements of the title - good relations with the media, discipline and a "first-class public image."  Marjorie had accused a British soccer star of theft of a fur coat and valuables from her apartment, and was also criticized for a TV appearance where she kissed and body-danced with singer Tom Jones.  Despite being fired, Marjorie is still the official Miss World 1973 (the second runner-up that year, Patsy Yuen of Jamaica, unofficially served as Miss World 1973) .

Marjorie’s smile was short lived

In 1974, Miss UK won the title again.  Her name?  Helen Morgan, who was also Miss Wales and first runner-up at the Miss Universe Pageant in Manila that year. Helen kept the Miss World title for less time than Marjorie.  She resigned after four days, citing her involvement in a cabaret dancer’s divorce case.

The real reason was likely the uproar over her being the unmarried mother of an 18-month-old son.  One of her fellow contestants, Miss Venezuela, Alicia Rivas, said: "In my country, a girl who has a baby without being married is regarded as a bad girl, not pure and undefiled as we are led to believe Miss World should be."  In Helen’s turbulent wake, the first runner-up, Anneline Kriel of South Africa, was officially appointed as Miss World 1974.

The top three in 1974, left to right:
Anneline Kriel, Miss South Africa (1st runner-up); Helen Morgan of Wales, Miss World 1974; and Lea Ksinan, Miss Israel (2nd runner-up).
In four days the crown would pass to Anneline.
Helen Morgan with her son.

The Denouement - Miss World 1975

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