Miss Universe Pageant



Singapore hosted the 36th Miss Universe pageant on 27 May 1987. The extravaganza was staged in Hall 4 of the former World Trade Centre (now known as HarbourFront Centre), and televised worldwide to at least 600 million viewers in 56 countries. Organised at a cost of S$7 million by the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board (now Singapore Tourism Board), the event generated much public interest among Singaporeans because of the international exposure that it brought to Singapore.1 Contestants from 68 countries competed for the title and prizes worth US$250,000. Miss Chile Cecilia Bolocco, aged 22, was crowned the winner. Miss Singapore Marion Nicole Teo was placed among the 10 semi-finalists.2

Aim
The 36th Miss Universe pageant was held in Singapore on 27 May 1987.3 Organised by the then Singapore Tourist Promotion Board and Miss Universe Incorporated at a cost of S$7 million, the event aimed to market Singapore as a world-class event organiser and an attractive tourist destination.4

Venue
After exploring Kallang Theatre, Neptune Theatre and the Westin Ballroom as possible venues, World Trade Centre Hall 4 was eventually chosen as the pageant venue. The hall could accommodate an audience of 3,200, a stage and a store for the various sets. Its open space also allowed designers to work freely without the constraints posed by existing structures.5


Staging the event
Some S$1.4 million was invested in transforming the trade hall into a Hollywood-style theatre with tiered seats. Measuring 1,115 sq m and costing S$1 million to build, the stage was the biggest and most expensive indoor stage to be built in Singapore at the time.6 Over 5,600 tiny lights were also installed on the darkened ceiling to create a starlight effect.7 Various backdrops were created for the different segments of the competition. The opening sequence featured a huge reclining lion with two flights of steps along its flanks where contestants made their entrance. Other centrepieces included a moongate with two small dragons; a set comprising three large Oriental fans, each measuring  3.7 m high and 7.6 m long; an exotic butterfly set made up of four panels, and a Chinatown set. Complementing the main sets was a 4.3-metre waterfall that cascaded 1,500l of water into four pools below. Birds from the Jurong Bird Park and tropical foliage completed the miniature equatorial paradise.8


Preliminaries
A week before the finals, the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation aired a two-hour presentation show on the preliminary judging sessions during which the contestants were assessed in their swimsuits and evening gowns.9 Closed-door interview sessions between the contestants and judges took place over the next three days. The combined scores of these sessions determined the 10 semi-finalists.10


In addition to the swimsuit and evening gown segments, contestants also battled for the Best National Costume award.11 The winner, Miss Brazil, impressed the judges with her flamboyant gold and green sequinned gown and eye-catching headdress with long peacock feathers.12

Finals
The pageant was televised on 27 May 1987 at 9 am with more than 600 million viewers from 56 countries around the world watching the live show and repeat broadcasts of the two-hour spectacular hosted by Bob Barker and Mary Frann.13 The panel of 11 celebrity judges included Singaporean choreographer Goh Choo San, Miss Universe 1985 Deborah Carthy-Deu, television actor Peter Graves and internationally famed actress Isabel Sanford.14


The show’s opening routine was an energetic number, “Let's Go!”, during which contestants dressed in their national costumes introduced themselves during the Parade of Nations. Accompanied by their “little sisters” clad in the Singapore Airlines sarong kebaya, the contestants were ushered in by a burst of fireworks, lion and dragon troupes, stilt-walkers as well as colourful costumed dancers who made their way down the aisles among the audience.15 After the song-and-dance sequence, the 10 semi-finalists were announced. Miss Singapore Marion Nicole Teo received rousing cheers from the crowd when she was named. The semi-finalists went on to compete in the interview and swimsuit segments.16

Audiences were also treated to pre-recorded videos on the sights and attractions of Singapore as well as a fashion parade by the reigning Miss Universe Barbara Palacios Teyde and the contestants, who showed off the creations of Singaporean designers such as Esther Tay, David Wang and Daniel Yam.17

From the 10 semi-finalists, the list was whittled down to the final five: Miss Chile, Miss Italy, Miss USA, Miss Venezuela and Miss Puerto Rico. Miss Chile Cecilia Bolocco, a 22-year-old fashion designer, was eventually crowned Miss Universe.18 She was the first Chilean to clinch the title, and took home prizes worth US$250,000. These included a car, a mink coat, an 18-carat gold watch, first-class return tickets to any Singapore Airlines destination, sponsored clothing for a year, a luxury 9 apartment in Los Angeles, a week’s stay every year for 40 years at a Caribbean condominium and a year-long contract.19

Problems
The preparation for an event of this scale was not without teething problems. The initial pageant logo, which attempted to represent Singapore as a “fun, vibrant, tropical and Asian destination”, was criticised and largely panned by Singaporeans. In response to public reaction, the logo was replaced with a “stylised multi-coloured profile of a woman’s head resting on some green palm leaves”.20


The presentation show was also saddled with logistical and presentation issues. Due to the low stage, insufficient tiering of seats, poor acoustics and slow pacing of the show, audiences who could not see, hear or follow the proceedings left the programme early.21 However, these issues were addressed by the time of the live telecast and the broadcast of the pageant on 27 May earned praise for its professional and glitch-free presentation.22

Participation by Singaporeans
Over 800 girls vied to be one of 85 “little sisters” to the contestants.23 Singaporeans in schools, offices and shops also tuned into the live broadcast. In particular, primary school students from the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (Toa Payoh) were highlighted by the press. The students had been given special permission to watch the telecast as a treat after their examinations.24 Bookies and bettors also joined in the action. Miss Singapore was given 90-1 odds to win, and 8-1 to enter the semi-finals.25


Awards26
Miss Universe: Miss Chile, Cecilia Bolocco

First runner-up: Miss Italy, Roberta Capua
Second runner-up: Miss USA, Michelle Royer
Third runner-up: Miss Venezuela, Ines Maria Calero
Fourth runner-up: Miss Puerto Rico, Lauri Simpson
Best National Costume: Miss Brazil, Jacqueline Meireless
Miss Amity: Miss Honduras, Francia Tatiana Reyes
Miss Photogenic: Miss Columbia, Patricia Lopez



Author

Gracie Lee




References
1. Lye, J. (1987, August). Miss Universe: A second look. Singapore Business11(8), pp. 24-25. (Call no.: RSING 380.1095957 SB); Tan, J. (1987, May 17). A night for armchair judges. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Salma Khalik & Ng, J. (1987, May 23). Some surprises for world TV audiences. The Straits Times, p. 22; Chandran, K. (1987, May 28). Flashy pizzazz, elegant lines. The Straits Times, p. 29; Chilean charm wins the day. (1987, May 28). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Tan, J. (1987, May 17). A night for armchair judges. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Lye, J. (1987, August). Miss Universe: A second look. Singapore Business11(8), p. 24. (Call no.: RSING 380.1095957 SB)
5. Chandran, K. (1987, May 27). From Singapore, with razzle-dazzleThe Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Salma Khalik. (1987, May 17). A Hollywood fantasyThe Straits Times, p. 3; ‘Beast’ to share spotlight with the beauties. (1987, May 9). The Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Salma Khalik. (1987, May 17). A Hollywood fantasyThe Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. ‘Beast’ to share spotlight with the beauties. (1987, May 9). The Straits Times, p. 17; Salma Khalik. (1987, May 17). A Hollywood fantasyThe Straits Times, p. 3; Salma Khalik & Ng, J. (1987, May 23). Some surprises for world TV audiences. The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Tan, J. (1987, May 17). A night for armchair judges. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Ng, I. (1987, May 20). Costume contest spectacle on TV tonight. The Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Tan, J. (1987, May 17). A night for armchair judges. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Cheong, T. (1987, May 24). Sister titles which are just as specialThe Straits Times, p. 10; Ng, I. (1987, May 21). A heady victory for Miss BrazilThe Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Lye, J. (1987, August). Miss Universe: A second look. Singapore Business11(8), p. 24. (Call no.: RSING 380.1095957 SB); Tan, J. (1987, May 17). A night for armchair judges. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Gillis, K., & Tan, K. (2006). The book of Singapore’s firsts. Singapore: Singapore Heritage Society, p. 108. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 GIL-[HIS]); Salma Khalik & Ng, J. (1987, May 23). Some surprises for world TV audiences. The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Tan, J. (1987, May 17). A night for armchair judges. The Straits Times, p. 4; Salma Khalik, Ng, I., & Wong, J. (1987, May 25). Keeping them in step. The Straits Times, p. 15; Salma Khalik & Ng, J. (1987, May 23). Some surprises for world TV audiences. The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Lye, J. (1987, May 28). Budding fashion designer banters her way to the top. The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Lye, J. (1987, May 28). Budding fashion designer banters her way to the top. The Business Times, p. 2; Salma Khalik & Ng, I. (1987, May 19). Boost for S’pore designers. The Straits Times, p. 18; Salma Khalik, Ng, I., & Wong, J. (1987, May 25). Keeping them in step. The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Chilean charm wins the day. (1987, May 28). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Ng, J. (1987, May 29). Goodbye without the fuss. The Straits Times, p. 22; What winner will get. (1987, April 21). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Controversial Miss Universe logo replaced by ‘tropical beauty’. (1987, April 16). The Straits Times, p. 1; Loh, E. (1987, March 25). Miss Universe logo gets cool receptionThe Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Crowd walks out of the show. (1987, May 21). The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Lye, J. (1987, August). Miss Universe: A second look. Singapore Business, 11(8), p, 24. (Call no.: RSING 380.1095957 SB)
23. Loh, E., & Rajendran R. (1987, April 23). ‘Little sisters’ set to share limelight with beauty queensThe Straits Times, p. 32. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Davie, S. (1987, May 27). Some schools, offices make plans to tune inThe Straits Times, p. 32. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Bookies beauty. (1987, May 26). The Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Chilean charm wins the day. (1987, May 28). The Straits Times, p. 1; Cheong, T. (1987, May 24). Sister titles which are just as specialThe Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2011 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Sports and Recreation
Beauty contests--Singapore
Recreation
People and communities>>Fashion and grooming
Miss Universe Pageant
Sports, recreation and travel
Events