The Quick 10: 10 Miss Universe Controversies

If you follow these things, and maybe even if you don't, you know that the Miss Universe pageant was last weekend. Miss Venezuela took the crown for the second year in the row. All in all it was a pretty tame competition, but it isn't always that way - the pageant has certainly seen its share of controversy over the years. Here are 10 of them.

armi1. The very first winner, Armi Kuusela of Finland, was just 17 when she took home the title in 1952. She was about 10 months into her year-long reign when she decided to hand over her sash and crown because she was getting married immediately and would no longer meet the requirements. Why she couldn't wait two months is anyone's guess. She was the first beauty queen to voluntarily give up a position, and perhaps lacking protocol, pageant organizers let her keep her title.
2. During the pageant of 1969, Miss Austria Eva von Rueber-Staier upset quite a few people with her response to one particular question on a written questionnaire. When asked to name the greatest historical figure in the world, she had responded with "Mao Tse-tung." Although this obviously didn't sit well with everyone, she still advanced to the semi-finals before being edged out. She did, however, take the Miss World title the same year. You might know her better as General Gogol's beautiful assistant in the James Bond movies The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy.

3. Miss Philippines Margarita Moran sort of made the same mistake after the 1973 pageant, though probably not as extreme. She won the competition and then proclaimed Richard Nixon as the "Greatest man on Earth." This was right in the middle of Watergate, mind you. Nixon sent her a thank you note, expressing his gratitude on her "thoughtful comment on my efforts to bring peace in the world."

4. It wasn't a contestant who created a stir in 1974, it was the host country "“ or rather, the host country's hostess. A former beauty queen herself, Imelda Marcos understandably wanted to show off the Philippines when it was chosen to host the Miss Universe pageant. But perhaps she went a little too far. She immediately ordered a 10,000-seat amphitheater to be built in under three months, using millions of dollars when much of the nation's population needed aid. And to top it off, after the parade route was set, she had some of the shabbier homes on the route bulldozed, hidden by fences or otherwise concealed so the contestants from other countries would only see the best side of Manila.

5. And that wasn't the only controversy to strike in 1974. The winner, Ampara Muñoz of Spain, pulled a Miss Finland and willfully gave up her crown. The runner-up, Miss Wales, would have been offered the crown, but she had recently been named Miss World and couldn't carry both titles. And, actually, Miss Wales ended up having to relinquish her Miss World title anyway when it was discovered that she was an unwed mother (gasp). Apparently the pageant officials gave up at that point, because they didn't even bother offering the crown to the second runner up "“ Miss Finland.

6. Everyone's favorite game show host was the culprit behind the 1987 brouhaha. Maybe not everyone's favorite game show host "“ I guess maybe some people prefer Alex Trebek or Pat Sajak. I digress. Pageant host and animal activist Bob Barker requested that the pageant stop offering fur coats and other prizes related to animal cruelty as rewards to the winner and runners-up. They refused, and the 20-year Miss Universe veteran stepped down. The 1987 pageant in Singapore was his last.

alicia7. You might remember this one "“ the 1996 winner, Venezuelan Alicia Machado, was basically warned that she was getting too fat to keep her crown. Officials threatened to replace her with the runner up, Miss Aruba, unless she trimmed down. She did, but it certainly didn't help matters when Donald Trump went on Howard Stern and referred to Machado as "an eating machine."
8. In 1999, it was revealed that Miss Guam was pregnant. She was disqualified, and pageant officials thought it would be a great opportunity to stump the remaining contestants with a tricky question: If a Miss Universe becomes pregnant, should she be allowed to continue her reign and keep the title? Most contestants awkwardly stumbled their way through the question, but Miss Botswana was prepared and answered that there was no way Miss Universe was any less spectacular with a bun in the oven, and that she should not only keep the crown, but celebrate her femininity. She won the title.

9. In 1966, several contestants from Latin American countries bonded together to have a press conference to share their opinion that they were considered the "nothings" of the pageant and that European girls were preferred. Misses Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay and Venezuela were sort of proved right a few days later when Miss Sweden won, but overall they have been incorrect: Venezuela ranks second when it comes to how often they land in the semi-finals, Colombia had first runner up placements three years in a row, and Puerto Rico and Venezuela are the only two countries to have winners in each of the last four decades.

10. The 1979 pageant held in Perth, Australia, had only just finished when a huge crash and loud screams filled the building. Part of the hastily-constructed stage had collapsed, injuring 20 candidates and lots of reporters and photographers.

Do you follow the pageants at all? Any opinion on last weekend's events? I can't say that I follow them too much, so fill me in if I missed anything good.

10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes

The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.


While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.


It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.


Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.


Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.


The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.


Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.


According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?


Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.


December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.


Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films

1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.



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