Seventy-Seven Seek Miss Universe Title, Miss Venezuela wins
PANAMA CITY, Panama (AP) _ Miss Venezuela, 22-year-old advertising executive Barbara Palacios, defeated 76 other young women to win the Miss Universe title Monday night.
Miss United States, Christy Fichtner, 23, of Dallas, was first runner-up. The other runners-up were, in order, the representatives of Colombia, Maria Monica Urbina; Poland, Brygida Bziukiewicz, and Finland, Tuula Polvi.
The brown-haired Miss Palacios was crowned by outgoing Miss Universe Deborah Carthy-Deu of Puerto Rico, and prepared to begin a year of worldwide travel, interviews and photographic sessions.
As winner of the 35th annual pageant she also will receive nearly $200,000 in cash and prizes, an extensive wardrobe, a diamond and a mink coat, plus a personal appearance contract, a Hollywood screen test, a sports car, and a luxury apartment in Los Angeles that she will share during her reign with Miss United States.
″All the girls were very beautiful and they all deserved to win,″ a tearful Miss Palacios said after the pageant.
Both the mother and father of the 5-foot-8, 119-pound winner are actors. Miss Palacios is an account executive in an advertising agency.
The contestants began arriving here last month and have visited various parts of the country and met with national leaders, including President Eric Arturo Delvalle and the military chief, Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega.
The pageant at the Anayansi Convention Center marks the sixth time the Miss Universe contest has been held in Latin America. Previously, it was held in El Salvador, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Peru.
As the contest neared its end, many of the contestants appeared tired from three weeks of rehearsals, costume sessions and other preliminary activities.
Organizers of the event banned all social activities for the contestants during the final hours and refused to allow any to be interviewed or photographed.
In preliminary competition earlier this month, Miss Panama, Gilda Garcia, won the native costume contest. Photographers covering the event selected Miss Italy, 17-year-old model Susanna Huckstep, as the most photogenic.
Miss Guam, Dina Reyes, was selected Miss Congeniality.
Last week, the contestants appeared for the first time before the panel that selected the winner, and were judged in swimsuits and evening dress. They also met individually with the judges to be evaluated on personality, and results of those preliminary selections were kept secret until Monday night.
Among the 12 judges for the event are U.S. actors Don Correia, Sandy Duncan and Kristi McNichol, as well as 1980′s Miss Universe, Shawn Weatherly.