Miss World 1975 Beauty Pageant

Puerto Rico's Wilnelia Merced poses as the new Miss World 1975



The 25th edition of the Miss World pageant has been successfully held after two consecutive years of scandals; this event was celebrated on November 20th 1975 at the Royal Albert Hall in London, to which 68 out of the 76 expected delegates showed up, the largest number of delegates in the history of the pageant to that date.

Just like every year, the big favorites emerge and in the betting poles of London the favorites are: Miss UK Vicky Harris, selected just a few months before and whose title allowed her to also compete in the Miss Universe pageant, where she placed among the semifinalists; Anelisse Ilschenko from the USA, Leena Kaavina Vainio from Finland, Marina Langer from Germany and from Israel Atida Mor.

This year highlights the first comers of countries such as Swaziland, St Lucia, Haiti, Curacao, and El Salvador as well as the participation of Cuba for the second time since 1955. Ana Vitale Miss Italy, had to quit the competition since her mother felt really ill and was substituted by Vanna Bartolini, and Miss South Africa, Helga Vera Johns was disqualified as she had actually been born in Rhodesia and the organizers of the Miss South Africa pageant rushed to send the first runner up instead, Rhonda Rademayer, another attractive blonde that would represent well the rainbow nation.

Raquel Argandona from Chile, Diana Anker Chacon from Guatemala, Anina Hortos Torrijos from Panama, Maria Angela Medina from Paraguay, Brenda May from Zambia as well as Miss Madagascar, Miss US Virgin Islands, Miss Ghana and Miss Cyprus did not show up for the pageant, and the last one could not be chose because the pageant couldn’t be held due to the political situation in that country in the seventies including the coup d’état caused by Greek militants and the Turkish invasion in 1974.

Politics also played a part that year when the ambassador of Cuba in London protested the presence of Marisela Maxi Clark as Miss Cuba (who was naturalized as an American citizen); requesting the destitution of Miss Clark since the politics of the government of the Republic of Cuba didn’t allow or recognized the celebration of pageants of that nature and the election of miss Clerk as Miss Cuba was done in exile in Miami.

A few hours prior to the big event, at 5:25 am of that November 20th 1975, dies in Madrid the General Francisco Franco, chief of the Spanish state from a heart disease. For that reason, Miss Spain Olga Fernandez a delegate with good chances of catching the title; withdraws the competition as show of respect for the sensitive loss of her country.

And that way, Miss Puerto Rico Wilnelia Merced, an 18 year old brunette standing 1.71 cms. tall gets the crown of Miss World 1975, a model with perfect proportions who enjoyed ballet and modern dance. 22 years old Miss Germany, Marina Langer gets the second place; Miss UK gets the third position and Miss Cuba, Miss Yugoslavia Lidija Velkovska, Miss Venezuela Maria Conchita Alonso, and Miss Haiti Joelle Apollon take the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh place respectively.

The semifinalists were: Miss South Africa Rhonda Rademeyer, Miss Finland Leena Kaarina Vainio, Miss Lebanon Ramona Karam, Miss Australia Anne Davison, Miss St. Lucia, Miss Uruguay Carmen Abal, Miss Seychelles Islands Amelie Lydia Michelle, and miss Mauritius Mari-Ella Tse Sik-Sun. Once the event had finished, the scandal strikes, and not due to the winner but to the first runner up, Miss Germany Marina Langer.

The official delegate that Germany had sent for this competition withdrew the pageant right at the beginning without properly letting them know of her decision; a well-known photographer saw this as an opportunity to introduce miss Langer, a friend of his, to the pageant and get her exposed. But when the results were announced, they realized that miss Langer was not the girl that Germany had sent.

Julia Morley, wife of the owner of the Miss World organization, got to deal with the “situation” in a smart way by telling the press that miss Langer had been selected through the choice of a sponsor of the photographic industry, explaining that the rules of the pageant allowed these kind of selections in addition to the traditional pageant selection of national delegates, but that she would make sure that for the following year, all the delegates were chosen through a national competition.

Wilnelia carried away her title of Miss World 1975 with dignity and great results, and once the year was over, she did several cinematographic tests and moved to New York City, where she continued with her work as a model, working for one of the most well respected agencies in the world.

Years later, she married Bruce Forsyth (Britanic TV Celebrity), whom she had met in 1980. To this date, Wilnelia is in charge of the franchise that chooses the queens from Puerto Rico for the Miss World and does a lot of charity work and she has been invited as a honor guest to attend the Miss World Pageants 1995, 2000 and 2007, and invited as a jury in 1980, 1990, 2005 and 2006, as well as designing the official swimwear for the pageant in 2004, 2005 and 2006.







Contribution of Alexboy777 (Mexico)    


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