It started as the Festival Bikini Contest, in honor of the swimwear getting notoriety at the time, but was called Miss World by the press. It was originally meant as a one-time event.
Opposition to the wearing of bikinis led to their replacement with more modest swimwear after the first contest. In 1959, the BBC started broadcasting the competition. The pageant's popularity grew as the popularity of television grew.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the pageant was marred by scandals. The '60s included tabloid coverage of nude photographs and the alcoholic excesses of the winners. The rise in feminism lead to further controversy. The first winner from the United States, 1973's Marjorie Wallace, was forced to resign because of her high-profile serial dating. The 1974 winner resigned four days later after it was discovered she was a single mother. In 1977, a United Nations boycott was organized because of the pageant permitting the participation of South Africa, a participation which ended the next year. The 1980 winner Gabriela Brum of Germany resigned one day after winning initially claiming that her boyfriend disapproved. A few days later it emerged that she had been forced to resign after it was discovered that she posed naked for a magazine.
In the 1980s, the pageant repositioned itself with the slogan Beauty With a Higher Purpose. The contest added tests of intelligence and personality. By the 1990s, the pageant was reaching two billion viewers from almost every country in the world.
Eric Morley passed away as the pageant entered the new century. The century saw its first black winner, Agbani Darego, in 2001. In 2002 the competition was slated for Nigeria. This choice was controversial, as a woman, Amina Lawal, was awaiting death by stoning for adultery there. A newspaper editorial suggesting that Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, would not have objected to the immodesty of the pageant resulted in riots that started on November 22 in which over 200 people were killed. Because of these riots, the 2002 pageant was moved to London. A fatwa urging the beheading of the woman who wrote the offending words, Isioma Daniel, has been issued.
|1952||May Louise Flodin||Sweden|
|1955||Carmen Duijm Zubillaga||Venezuela|
|1956||Petra Susana Shurmann||West Germany|
|1958||Penelope Anne Coelen||South Africa|
|1960||Norma Gladys Cappagli||Argentina|
|1961||Rosemarie Frankland||United Kingdom|
|1963||Carole Joan Crawford||Jamaica|
|1964||Ann Sydney||United Kingdom|
|1965||Lesley Langley||United Kingdom|
|1967||Madeleine Hartog Bell||Peru|
|1969||Eva Rueber Staier||Austria|
|1971||Lucia Tavares Petterle||Brazil|
|1973||Marjorie Wallace||United States|
|1974||Anneline Kriel 1||South Africa|
|1975||Wilnelia Merced||Puerto Rico|
|1980||Kimberley Santos 2||Guam|
|1982||Mariasela Alvarez||Dominican Republic|
|1983||Sarah-Jane Hutt||United Kingdom|
|1986||Giselle LaRonde||Trinidad and Tobago|
|1990||Gina Marie Tolleson||United States|
|1995||Jacqueline Aguilera Marcano||Venezuela|
|1 Crowned after Helen Morgan of the United Kingdom resigned.|
|2 Crowned after Gabriella Brum of West Germany resigned|