STL Fashion Archives: A Look Inside The 1983 Miss Universe Pageant In STL

 In Style

In 1983, the famed Miss Universe pageant unfolded on St. Louis. The contestants spent two weeks in the city, taking photos at local landmarks, such as Kiener Plaza, before the contest took place on July 11 at Kiel Auditorium. The winner that evening was Miss New Zealand, Lorraine Downes, who was crowned by the previous year’s winner, Miss Canada.


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Despite the excitement surrounding the event, which was originally planned to take place in Colombia, the pageant was met with much dissonance among St. Louis locals. While city officials, such as the mayor, hoped that the pageant would move the city forward and help draw in tourists, local activists thought that the $500,000 spent on the pageant could have been better allocated. According to an article that ran in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 1983, activists had planned a protest on the day of the pageant.

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Published in Lakeland, Florida’s “The Ledger” on June 14, 1983

The show aired on CBS with an estimated 600,000 million viewers catching a glimpse of St. Louis city and Miss New Zealand taking home the crown.


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