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PART 1: SCANDALS & CONTROVERSIES DURING THEIR REIGNS

Miss America 1951 Yolanda Betbeze, Miss America 1951

After winning the 1951 title, Alabaman Yolanda Betbeze shocked pageant organizers and sponsors when she refused to wear a bathing suit in public. Catalina Swimwear withdrew its support as a major sponsor, and founded two rival beauty pageants, Miss USA and Miss Universe. After her reign, Betbeze continued to be outspoken. She marched in civil rights demonstrations, took part in sit-ins in Woolworth's in New York, and later marched in a feminist demonstration against the pageant in Atlantic City.

Miss USA 1957 Leona Gage, Miss USA 1957

Miss USA 1957 Leona Gage was disqualified and was stripped of her crown when her mother-in-law revealed to the public that she was in her second marriage, that she had two children and that she was only 18 and not 21 as what was noted in her application. It was already announced that Leona was one of the semi-finalists for the Miss Universe crown that year. Her first runner-up assumed the title but did not participate in the Miss Universe Beauty Pageant for missing the preliminaries. Miss Gage explained that she needed the prize money to support her family.

Miss Universe1957 Gladys Zender, Miss Universe 1957

There was a controversy regarding Gladys age when she won the Miss Universe Beauty Pageant that year. Her father stated to the press that Gladys was 17 years and 7 months old when she entered the pageant. It was considered below the minimum age of 18. Before the coronation ball, the pageant officials had a closed door meeting to discuss whether they would let Gladys keep the crown. Their verdict was that Gladys would keep the title since in Peru it is customary to round up ages if they are more than six months past their previous birthday.

Miss World 1973 Marjorie Wallace, Miss World 1973

Marjorie Wallace was the very first Miss United States to win the Miss World title. The Miss World Organisation claimed that she wasn't upholding the Miss World's reputation when they found out that she was dating several big name celebrities like George Best and Tom Jones during her reign. She was stripped off her title just 104 days after being crowned Miss World 1973. The title was not offered to the runner-up and her name is still listed as the winner for that year.

Miss Universe 1974 Amparo Muñoz, Miss Universe 1974

Amparo resigned as Miss Universe after only six months of her reign to pursue a show business career. She then made some b-movies in Spain and made one movie in the Philippines where she was involved in a slapping incident and a scandal involving money. The title was not offered to the first runner-up and she is still listed as the winner that year. Her first runner-up was Helen Morgan, Miss Wales at that time who eventually became Miss United Kingdom and Miss World that same year just to relinquish the title 4 days later due to another beauty pageant scandal.

Miss World 1974 Helen Morgan, Miss World 1974

Helen Morgan was the second Welsh woman and the fourth UK representative to win the Miss World crown in 1974. A media frenzy erupted after it was revealed that Morgan, 22, had a son and was also cited in a divorce case. She resigned four days after winning the crown First runner-up Anneline Kriel of South Africa succeeded her. Helen became the first winner to resign, and just like her predecessor, Marjorie Wallace, she did not finish her reign as Miss World.

Miss America 1984 Vanessa Williams, Miss America 1984

Vanessa became the first African-American woman to win the Miss America pageant in 1984. She was forced to give up her crown when photos of her, which she had taken prior to the competition, appeared in Penthouse magazine. Vanessa is still recognized as Miss America 1984 by the organization, although Suzette Charles who was her first runner-up and who took over the crown that year is listed as Miss America 1984 as well. She's without a doubt one of the most successful former pageant winners ever.

Miss Universe 1996 Alicia Machado, Miss Universe 1996

During her reign she suffered weight problems and, in order to keep the title, she was forced by Donald Trump to diet and exercise. In 2005, she participated in a Spanish reality show called 'La Granja' (The Farm) where she was severely criticized for having sex with one of her roommates in front of the cameras. She has posed nude for both the Mexican and the US editions of Playboy, something a Miss Universe had never done before.

Miss Universe 2002 Oxana Fedorova, Miss Universe 2002

There was no clarity why she was dethoned but the popular reason that was written often on the news was Oxana's failure to perform the numerous duties expected of a Miss Universe titleholder. Although the Miss Universe Organization refuses to recognize her as a Miss Universe, the international pageant afficionados still consider her as one. Panama's Justine Pasek, Oxana's first runner-up at the 2002 Miss Universe Pageant assumed the title after officially dethroning Oxana on Sept. 23, 2002.

Miss USA 2006 Tara Conner, Miss USA 2006

Tara Elizabeth Conner's controversy erupted when a New York Daily News reported Conner had tested positive for cocaine, had kissed Miss Teen USA Katie Blair in public, and had sneaked men into their Trump Place apartment. On December 19, 2006, Trump held a press conference saying that Conner would keep the Miss USA title. "I've always been a believer in second chances," Trump said. Tara spent two months in rehab before she turned over her crown to the new Miss USA Rachel Smith.


Acknowledgments:
Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
LIFE MAGAZINE
BALTIMORE SUN

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