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17 Vintage Photos of What the Miss Universe Pageant Used to Look Like

They’ve been dressed to nines every year since the pageant started, but the styles have changed a lot since 1952.

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Years of crowns beauty pageant

Years of crowns

The first Miss Universe Pageant was held in Long Beach California on June 28, 1952. Thirty contestants competed for the crown and 17-year-old Armi Kuusela of Finland came out on top as the first titleholder in history. More than 65 years later the Miss Universe Organization is still encouraging girls to be confident and bring positive change to their community. Take a look at what some of the very first pageants looked like.

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1954 Miss Universe Pageant
Ed Widdis/AP/Shutterstock

1954: Meeting the stars

The 1954 Miss Universe contestants visited the Universal movie studio lot to have their pictures taken with movie stars. Tony Curtis and Jeff Chandler are seen here posing with the girls after greeting them at the studio gate.

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1957 Miss Universe photo op
Marty Lederhandler/AP/Shutterstock

1957: Press events

Movie star Gary Cooper poses with Miss Universe contestants at a press reception in New York.

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1957 Miss Maryland crowned Miss U.S.A.

1957: Miss Maryland

Miss Israel, left, Atara Barzely, and Miss Peru, right, Gladys Zender congratulate Leona Gage, Miss Maryland, after being crowned Miss U.S.A. The Miss America and Miss USA pageants are actually different, here’s why.

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1959 Extravagant throne

1959: Extravagant throne

Miss Universe 1959, Akiko Kojima of Japan reigns from her throne after winning the beauty pageant.

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1967 Miss Universe Contestants

1967: State costumes

Shortly after arriving in Miami these Miss Universe contestants pose for a picture wearing their state costumes.

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Miss Universe 1970
Jim Bourdier/AP/Shutterstock

1970: Emotions running high

Marisol Malaret of Puerto Rico is in shock after it was announced that she had been named Miss Universe. This is what Miss USA looked like the year you were born.

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1970 Posing at the beach
Jim Kerlin/AP/Shutterstock

1970: Posing at the beach

After being crowned, Miss Universe Marisol Malaret poses for photographers at Miami Beach with her crown and sash.

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1974 Miss Spanish Universe

1974: Miss Spanish Universe

Pictured in the center of the photo is Spanish Former Miss Universe Amparo Munoz. She had just been crowned as Miss Universe in Manila Philippines on July 22, 1974. We wish these vintage swimsuits would come back into style.

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1976 Miss Israel teaching other pagaent members a dance

1976: Learning about new cultures

Miss Israel teaches other pageant contestants how to dance the Hora, an Israeli folk dance.

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1976 Miss Universe

1976: A new winner

Just after being crowned Miss Universe, Rina Messinger of Israel (center) poses with her runners-up.

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1979 Miss Universe Venezuela
Jeff Robbins/AP/Shutterstock

1979: Strike a pose

Miss Venezuela, Maritza Sayalero strikes a pose for the judges during the bathing suit part of the competition.

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1980 Miss Sweden and Miss U.S.A.

1980: Big smiles

Miss Sweden and Miss U.S.A. smile for the camera during a photo session in Seoul, South Korea.

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1980 Miss Universe United States contestants celebrate the Fourth of July

1980: Fourth of July

Miss U.S.A. shows fellow beauty contestants how Americans celebrate the Fourth of July while they are competing in South Korea on the holiday.

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1981 Miss Universe contestants eat buffet

1981: Time to eat

Several Miss Universe contestants enjoy a quick bite to eat during a buffet with Mayor Edward Koch at New York’s Surrogate Court.

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1985 host for Miss Universe pagaent, Bob Barker, tells a joke during rehersals.
Raul De Molina/AP/Shutterstock

1985: Jokes on stage

Bob Barker gets the contestants laughing while hosting the 1985 Miss Universe pageant in Miami, Florida.

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Miss Chile crowned Miss Universe at 1987 pageant

1987: The joy of the crown

Miss Chile smiles big after being crowned Miss Universe in 1987. Runner-up Miss Italy also celebrates.

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1989 Miss Universe pageant finalists
Mark J Terrill/AP/Shutterstock

1989: The finalists

The top five finalists line up during the 1989 Miss Universe competition anxiously waiting to see who will be crowned the winner. Next, check out these rare, vintage photos of what life was like in the 1950s.

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan Cutolo is a former senior production editor at Trusted Media Brands. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. In her free time, she likes exploring the seacoast of Maine, where she lives, and snuggling up on the couch with her corgi, Eggo, to watch HGTV or The Office.