Get to know Armi Helena Kuusela: Miss Universe 1952
Armi Helena Kuusela was born on August 20th, 1934. Armi is a Finnish beauty queen. In 1952 she won the national beauty contest Suomen Neito and was presented with a trip to the USA to participate in the first-ever Miss Universe pageant, becoming its first titleholder in history.
Kuusela's parents, Aarne Kuusela (father) and Martta Kyrö (mother) met each other in Ontario, Canada and later married there. Their first baby was born in Canada. After several years in Canada, they returned to Finland to settle in Muhos. Martta gave birth to five girls and one boy; one of the girls died when only two-and-a-half years old. Kuusela was born on August 20, 1934, she was the fourth oldest of the children. She went to middle school in Muhos, and in 1951 she started attending the women's college in Porvoo. Kuusela liked swimming, skiing, gymnastics and after successfully completing her Abitur, she intended to apply to the University of Helsinki Gymnastics Institute.
When Kuusela won her country's national pageant, Suomen Neito, on May 24, 1952, she was awarded a box of chocolates, a gold bangle, and a two-way ticket sponsored by Pan American Airways to the United States. On June 17, Kuusela took a flight to Long Beach, California and the first Miss Universe contest. Thirty contestants participated in the first Miss Universe pageant in 1952. The pageant was held on June 28, 1952, and Kuusela, as Suomen Neito, captured the crown. At her crowning she was only 17 years old. At the time she weighed 49 kg (108 lb), and her height was 1.65 m (5 ft 5 in). Immediately after her winning there was a Finnish movie made of her, called Maailman kaunein tyttö (World's most beautiful girl) where she played herself, and Tauno Palo acted Jack Coleman (opposite role). It was directed by Veikko Itkonen, with writing credits going to Mika Waltari.