Over the past 50 years the Miss SA beauty pageant has introduced many fiercely intelligent and beautiful ambassadors for South Africa, and three of these stunning women attained the pinnacle of success by being crowned Miss World or Miss Universe.
Margaret Gardiner, Miss Universe 1978, from South Africa, was a 19-year-old model when she won the title of Miss Universe. Here is one of her headshots.
Mavis Alexander was the first ever to be crowned Miss South Africa in 1925. However, this wasn’t an official title but merely a nationwide search for the country’s most beautiful woman. Since then the pageant has become an integral part of the South African landscape, attracting hundreds of bright and beautiful women from across the country, all vying for the coveted title.
The first Miss South Africa competition came about in 1956 when Die Landstem, a now defunct national Afrikaans newspaper, acquired the rights to send a delegate to London to compete in the Miss World pageant. In conjunction with Sunday Times, the first official Miss South Africa competition was organised to select an entrant for London. It was Norma Vorster – the first official Miss South Africa.
Two years later, in 1958, Penny Coelen was crowned Miss South Africa and she went on to become Miss World. In 1974 Anneline Kriel was the second Miss SA to be crowned Miss World and Margaret Gardiner, Miss SA 1978, won the Miss Universe title.
In 1970, at the height of apartheid, two South African contenders competed at Miss World -- a white Miss South Africa (Jillian Jessup) and a black Miss Africa South (Pearl Jansen). Pearl was first runner-up while Jillian was placed fourth runner-up.
From 1978 to 1990 South Africa was banned from participating in Miss World, but in 1991 the country was readmitted and Diana Tilden-Davis, who was crowned Miss SA, went on to become second runner-up in Miss World.
The first non-white winner of the Miss South Africa pageant was Amy Kleinhans in 1992, with Jacqui Mofokeng the first black South African to be crowned Miss South Africa in 1993.
During the early years, Miss South Africa was sponsored by two national newspapers – Sunday Times and Rapport. Sun International came on board in 2000, as sole license holder. This year Cell C came on board as headline sponsor for the first time.