Tania Verstak, Miss International 1962 (Australia)
Tania Verstak from Australia, a radiant beauty with figure 35-23-35, 5 feet 5.5 inch tall and weighing 120 pounds, won Miss International beauty pageant on 18 August 1962 at Long Beach, California, U.S.A., with 49 other contestants from around the globe. This 21 year old beauty won $10.000 and also captured Miss Photogenic and Best Evening Gown awards. But this reluctant Cinderella turned down her chance to wear the royal robes she won as Miss International beauty. Instead she returned to Australia to continue preparations for a career as a welfare worker - intent on helping who like herself, were refugees from communism.
She declined offers of lucrative film contracts, and she didn't want to tour the world as Miss International- an endeavor which earned her predecessor $25,000. "I've got as much money as I want" she said. She said, the money that she won after winning the pageant will be invested in her fathers Building Insulation business in Sydney. Tania felt she wasn't pretty enough for the contest, which drew 50 girls from as many nations. The judges disagreed.
The hazel-eyed girl, born in 1940, fled from her birthplace Tientsin (Tianjin), China, to Manly, New South Wales, Australia with her white Russian parents and sister Helen 10 years ago from her winning the crown, and settled there. Her parents Vladimir and Valentina Verstak, had escaped as children from Russian communism. Tania was the first migrant to win the Miss Australia title.
After winning Miss International title, she returned to her home to fulfill her contract as Miss Australia. The contract ran until Christmas. She intended to study English, Chinese and Psychology to prepare for refugee work overseas. She was already fluent in English and Russian.
She won Miss Photogenic Award in
Miss International 1962
Becoming involved in the beauty quest was not something that she had planned or even dreamt of. Her mother and father couldn't afford to send her to university so they used to work during the holidays. They did odd jobs and one of them was at the Royal Sydney Show. Tania was selling and promoting Spanish olive oil. She was approached by a lady from The Spastic Centre who said, "Join the Miss Australia Quest."
She brought this home and her mother said, "It'll be very good for you. You're very shy. This will be a good experience." The next thing she knew, it was Miss Northern Beaches and then Miss New South Wales and Miss Australia 1961.
She also said "All Miss Australias went to the Miss International because it was considered to be a very proper international contest. No swimsuits. Little playsuits. And the Miss Australia, of course, never appeared in a swimsuit or a bikini."
This shapely, brown-haired girl told the reporters that she did not expect to reach in the semifinal. "Miss Australia contest was not based on beauty. How could Miss International judges choose me from all those girls? Miss Australia judges weighed heavily on personal interviews with contestants.
This is not the practice here as girls are evaluated primarily on stage." she explained. Oscar Meinhardt, executive producer of the pageant, confirmed that Miss Verstak did not feel she should not represent her adopted homeland in Miss International. He said that he had to ask friends in Australia to convince her she should come.
Meinhardt added that its all right with him if Tania does not accept the commercial offer- which started pouring in on her even before she was named winner. "Just as long as she upholds the dignity of the title," he said, "there is no objection. And I know she will. She's a wonderful girl".
After completion of her contracted tour as Miss Australia, Tania returned to her home. There she attended Sydney University at night to brush up on her languages, and helped her father during the day in his business. Next year she returned to Long Beach to crown her successor who was Miss Iceland, Gudrun Bjarnadottir.
Tania was the first Miss Australia immigrant and the first one to win for her country an international beauty pageant title, she married a Perth motor- vehicle dealer and has a daughter, Nina Young who is an actress and appearance in Harry Potter the Philosopher's Stone as “the grey lady”.
from left to right, Miss Northern Beaches and then Miss New South Wales
Tania Verstak is chosen as Miss International 1962 in Long Beach, California, USA
Contribution of Maddy Sharma (India)