E. Dryke of St. Louis asks, 'Whatever happened to ...?' The first Miss Universe

Sixteen years after the globe-rocking decision of Britain's King Edward VIII to give up his crown for love and marriage, the first Miss Universe made a similar choice.

Seventeen-year-old Armi Kuusela from Muhos, Finland (which is known for its beautiful women), won the title at the pageant's debut on June 29, 1952, in Long Beach, Calif. There were 29 international contestants.

As there was no winner from the previous year to crown Miss Kuusela, actress Piper Laurie did the honors.

Kuusela - who held her title for less than a year - met affluent Filipino Virgilio Hilario at the 1952 International Exposition Festival in Manila early in her reign. They wed in February 1953, and once the Miss became Mrs., she had to relinquish her crown. Kuusela and her husband raised five children in the Philippines. During that time, she also had a short film career.

Shortly after her husband's death in 1975, Kuusela married Albert Williamson, a foreign-service officer from the United States.

Kuusela and her husband now live in southern California.

If you wonder 'Whatever happened to...' write us at: One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 or e-mail: whatever@csmonitor.com

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