Monday, 2 April 2012

1960 - Gina MacPherson

1960 was a different year for Brazil and a freakish one for Rio de Janeiro-DF that lost its special status as the Capital of Brazil to Brasilia on 21 April 1960. Brasilia had been built from scratch in less than 5 years in the hinterlands of Goiás. 

Rio de Janeiro-DF which stands for Distrito Federal - like Washington-DC stands for District of Columbia had been the capital of Brazil since 1763. 

Rio de Janeiro lost its status as Federal District but it was awarded a special status as a city-state. The metropolitan area of Rio was turned into Estado da Guanabara, a new state of the Federation. Brazil now had 21 states.

Gina MacPherson was chosen as the first Miss Guanabara on 4 June 1960, a Saturday night. A week later she won the national contest and became Miss Brazil 1960. Gina's real name was Jean MacPherson, born in 1940, in Niterói-RJ, the capital of the state of Rio de Janeiro, just on the other side of Guanabara Bay. She had a Scottish father and a US-born mother.

Gina went to a Catholic school managed by nuns and worked as a receptionist at BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) when she was spotted by Marcílio Nunes, a director of Botafogo Sports Club who invited her to take part in the Miss Guanabara beauty contest as Miss Botafogo.

Brazilian organizers of the Miss Brazil beauty contest thought that if they chose a girl who spoke English well she would have a better chance of winning the Miss Universe competition in the USA. That must have been the main rationale behind the choice of Gina MacPherson as Miss Brazil 1960.

This rationale was not necessarily true because many of the foreign girls picked out to be Miss Universe in the 1950s didn't speak a word of English like Luz Marina Zuluaga (Miss Colombia '58) or Armi Kuusela (Miss Finland '52). Gina MacPherson knew English all right but so did the other 80 million or so US girls. 

Gina didn't even make it into the finalists on 9 July 1960 at the Miami Beach Auditorium in Florida so I guess that thesis was definetely defeated. 


Gina MacPherson, Miss Guanabara 1960. Gina MacPherson, Miss Brazil 1960.
Miss Guanabara 1960.
'O Cruzeiro' Gina wears a bahiana costume in Miami, Florida.
Miss Brazil 1957, Miss Brazil 1958 & Miss Brazil 1960; Gina wears a typical costume in March 1961.
Miss Guanabara 1960 at Maracanãzinho on 4 June 1960; from left to right: Elvira Bela Grubel (Miss Jacarepaguá, 8th position); Martha Vieira Angermann (Miss Fluminense, 6th); Dirce Machado (Miss Renascença, 4th); Maria Helena Thomé (Miss Uruguai Clube, 2nd place); Gina Mac Pherson (Miss Botafogo, 1st); Shyrley da Silva Carneiro (Miss Grajaú, 3rd); Elenita Teixeira Lobo (Miss Marã, 5th) and Sonia Brasil Pinto (Miss Vasco da Gama, 7th place). 'O Cruzeiro' 18 June 1960.
by 1960 the Miss Brazil Pageant had become bigger than its US counterpart. 

Gina strutts ther stuff at the cat walk in Miami. She got into the 15 semi-finalist; 10 July 1960.
9th Miss Universe, Linda Bement from Utah, was a Mormon. She was stunningly beautiful although her beauty seldom got caught in the camera.
1960 was the first time the Miss Universe Pageant was held in Miami, Florida. 
Linda Bement is crowned Miss Universe 1960 on 9 July 1960. Akiko Kojima Miss U-1959, wears a kimono . Note that it was the first time ever that the contestants wore night-gown instead of swimm-suits. The 4 finalists are: Miss Spain, Miss Austria, Miss Italy & Miss South Africa. 
The 15 semi-finalists from left to right front row first: Miss Austria-Elizabeth Hodacs, Miss Brazil-Gina MacPherson, Miss Colombia-Stella Marquez, Miss Israel-Aliza Gur, Miss Germany-Ingrun Helgard Moeckel, Miss Korea-Sohn Miheeja, Miss Spain-Maria Teresa del Rio, Miss England-Joan Ellinor Boardman, Miss Italy-Daniela Bianchi, Miss Switzerland-Elaine Maurath, Miss U.S.A.-Linda Bement, Miss Norway-Ragnhild Aass, Miss South Africa-Nicolette Caras, Miss Greece-Magda Passaloglou & Miss Japan-Yayoi Furuno. 

  

Brasilia, a capital da Esperança - Capital of Hope... that was quashed in April 1960 by the military take over that plunged the country into a dark dictatorship whose negativity is still felt in the 21st century.


Juscelino Kubitschek can't hide his enthusiasm with Martha Rocha, Miss Brazil 1954, in June 1960.


'Não sabemos', de Rubens Caruso com Leila Silva foi o maior samba de 1960.

Long Beach is no longer the seat of Miss Universe Beauty Contest 

For years, Long Beach seemed to have conflicted feelings about women's bathing suits. In 1920, a city public safety commissioner ordained that adult swimwear must 'completely conceal from view each leg from the hip joint to a line around the leg one-third of the way to the knee.'


The regulation was repealed, but in 1926, when Long Beach held a 'bathing beauty parade', a local minister called the City Council 'vampires of human flesh'. This was meant as a criticism: vampires weren't as popular as they are nowadays.

Long Beach, with its population of transplanted Midwesterners, was conservative. But the city also felt overshadowed by its big neighbour Los Angeles, and its leaders were always 'fishing for that sure-fire attraction, something to put the town on the map.' wrote Bill Hillburg.

They found it in 1952, and it involved women's bathing suits. What happened was that Yolande Betbeze, Miss Alabama, the 1951 winner of the long-established Miss America competition, had refused to wear swimsuits on her promotional tour, saying she wanted to be taken seriously as an opera singer.

This was not music to the ears of Miss America's sponsor, Catalina Swimwear. So Catalina decided to start its own pageant, Miss USA/Miss Universde. Swimsuits required.

And Long Beach agreed to pay an annual fee of $30.000 a year to host the 'glamour tournament', as one columnist called.

Of course, over the years, Miss USA/Miss Universe would have its own controversies. In 1957, it was learned that Miss Universe winner from Peru was 17, one year under the contest's age limit. A suspenseful 4-hour conference followed. The winner was kept in her room while her formal Coronation Ball began without her. Finally, officials ruled there was no fraud, 'inasmuch as, in Peru, any person older than 17 years and 6 months is generally - and legally - considered to be 18'.

In 1959, a Tokyo doctor told newsmen that he had given Miss Japan a 'bust-enlarging plastic injection' beforehand. He added it was no big deal: he had performed the same procedure for many actresses.

But Miss Japan and her mother vigorously denied the report. Oscar Meinhardt, the Miss USA/Miss Universe producer, said he would honour the mother's word. Besides, he told the LA Times in 1959, while 'there is something in the rules against falsies', no mention was made of injections.

The case that gave Miss Universe officials 'globe-sized headaches' was the revelation that the 1957 Miss USA was really a missis. Her annoyed mother-in-law spilled the beans.

Under questioning, Miss USA told the press that her 1st marriage had lasted just a day before it was annulled. But she couldn't deny that her 2nd marriage was for real, inasmuch as she had 2 children.

She had pulled the ruse, she said, to win a modeling contract so she could feed her family. She lost her title after one day, making her ineligible to compete for Miss Universe 1957.

By the late 1950s, relations between Long Beach and Catalina Swimwear were deteriorating. Catalina grumbled that the city's annual $30.000 payment was too low. And Catalina was not happy when various nations 'agitated to replace the swimsuit competition with clothing more ladylike and less revealing', author Charles Queenan wrote.

Catalina's contract expired in 1959, and the company floated Miss USA/Miss Universe to Miami, Florida.

Long Beach didn't get out of the beauty business right away, though. In 1960, the city founded a new annual event, the International Beauty Congress Pageant, and put up signs at the town's entrances declaring it the 'International City'.  

Swimsuits were banned in favour of super-mini-skirts, native costumes and nightgowns. With the de-emphasis on revealing outfits, 'scandal was at a minimum but so was public interest', wrote authors Larry Meyer and Patricia Kalayjian in 'Long Beach: Fortune's Harbor'. Then too, 'There she is, Miss International Beauty' doesn't easily roll off the tongue.

Long Beach canceled the pageant in 1967. 'International City' signs can still be found around town,


Stela Marquez was first Miss International Beauty 1960

Miss Brazil Magda Renate Pfrimer didn't make it into the 15 semi-finalist for the 1st time ever since Martha Rocha the first Miss Brazil to go to an international beauty contest in 1954.  




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