Miss Universe 1987

Chilean beauty wins in Singapore
Bob Barker's last year as host

THE OPENING video clip for the 1987 pageant held in "Surprising Singapore" was of the most sensual nature. A young woman of patrician breeding is taking a luxurious bubble bath with the assistance of two handmaidens. The mysterious noblewoman turns out to be a queen as the ladies-in-waiting dress her and gingerly place the Miss Universe sash and crown. Barbara Palacios Teyde of Venezuela is the exquisite and delicate monarch who signals the start of the Universal quest for her title with an imperious gesture of her hand.

     A giant gray stone lion at center stage reclines with two staircases worming around its gargantuan paws. Two ceremonial braziers with flames licking high dominate the austere and almost menacing setting. It is as if a sacrificial ceremony from ancient times is about to take place. Suddenly, sixty-eight maidens dressed in national costumes descend the two staircases singing, "Let's go, baby, let's go, baby...come on!!...a party all over the world!!" The Parade of Nations follows with quite a few memorable costumes: Miss England's Elizabethan gown in white with red trim was symbolic of the pre-UK historical colors of England, Miss Canada was a giant maple leaf, Miss Argentina wore a puffy white dress with sky blue ruffles [the Argentine flag], Miss Senegal was draped with "Chinese red" African robes, Miss Venezuela's blonde hair complemented the pink Glenda-the-Good-Witch fantasy gown with matching ostrich fan of pink feathers, Miss Hong Kong was attired in a mandarin cloak with a whimsical lilac-and-pink color pattern, and Miss Brazil won the Best National Costume award with a fantastic outfit of lime green sequins and lemon yellow feathers representing the effusive colors of the Brazilian flag.

      1987 was a turning point. The last year Bob Barker conducted his signature interviews. Bob must have known this was the last hurrah because every one of the Top Ten interviews is to be remembered. Miss Italy reminded Bob she was the daughter of Miss Italy 1959, Miss Puerto Rico taught Bob the Texas two-step, Miss Philippines joked with Bob about his game show [The Price is Right], Miss Venezuela offered to make Bob an evening gown (!), and Miss Peru promised Bob she would write about him in her book. Miss USA reassured Bob she received no 'royal' treatment at home, Miss Singapore invited Bob to come back and visit Singapore, Miss Sweden confessed to Bob that her grandmother secretly entered her in the Miss Sweden contest, Miss Turks & Caicos let Bob embarrass her about keeping seventeen dogs as pets, and Miss Chile seduced Bob to whisper helpful interview hints in her ear--during the interview itself!!!

      A vintage swimsuit competition included white high-heeled pumps, a background of waterfalls and orchids of every color, and most importantly, mandarin-red Catalina swimsuits. The Singaporean Little Sisters initiated the famous "You Are My Star" anthem as the Top Ten passed through an Oriental moon gate during the evening gown segment. By the time only two finalists remained on center stage, Miss Italy, Roberta Capua and Miss Chile, Cecilia Bolocco,  perhaps the Miss Universe organization should have declared a tie. According to many, many fans and critics, the first runner-up Miss Italy was shortchanged a Miss Universe banner. I will not agree or disagree at this point. Miss Chile was crowned Miss Universe and went on to become a "queen" of another sort later in life: an ex-president of Argentina made her his "first lady."

The 10 Semi-finalists

  • INES MARIA CALERO, Venezuela
  • LAURIE SIMPSON, Puerto Rico
  • GERALDINE ASIS, Philippines
  • MARION TEO, Singapore
  • CARMELITA ARIZA, Turks & Caicos Islands

Photo courtesy of the Miss Universe Organization 

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