Get to know Miriam Stevenson: Miss Universe 1954
Miriam Jacqueline Stevenson (born July 4 July 1933, in Winnsboro, South Carolina), won the Miss USA pageant as Miss South Carolina USA in 1954. She was the first Miss USA to hold the Miss Universe beauty crown. Her win over Brazil's Martha Rocha was memorable for there was a tie between the two women for the crown. As Catalina was the major sponsor of the pageant in its early years, the tie-breaking judgment finally came down to who had the better physical figure, which went in Miriam's favor, for she had the "fitter" hips over Martha Rocha. She was crowned by Miss Universe 1953, Christiane Martel of France.
Stevenson gave the car she won in her Miss Universe Prize package to Martha Rocha as a consolatory prize. After a one-year stint in Hollywood at Universal Studios through the contract she won in the pageant, Miriam made headlines in Variety Magazine by returning home to South Carolina to complete her education. She hosted television shows for the local NBC affiliate in Columbia, WIS-TV. It was here that she met her future husband, chief announcer, songwriter [co-writer of the popular song: Christmas Eve in My Hometown], and public servant [Richland County School Board Chair] Donald Upton.
She was active in the media through the 1970s as a model, Miss Universe Pageant Judge, and actress in national commercials. They had two children. Their son, Donald Upton, Jr., is a former telecom executive and founder of the global economic development and public affairs firm Fairfield Index, Inc. The firm is named after Fairfield County, the home of the Stevenson Family for several centuries. Stevenson was also Miss South Carolina 1953 as her state's delegate to the Miss America pageant.