By Tante de Ramos
Throughout the many decades of Philippines cinema, international beauty queens have appeared in locally-made movies. Most of them were initially just visiting the country to compete in a beauty pageant or as part of their obligation as reigning beauty title-holder for a year. They were encouraged and contracted to shoot films with homegrown casts under local production outfits.
This article tries to name just a few of these international beauty queens, who were included in casts of locally-produced movies. The list includes some who had appeared in movies as early as the decades of the 50s.
Offhand, the following are just a few of the international beauty queens who had done local movies here:
Army Kuusela-Hilario – The first ever Miss Universe title holder who won the pageant as Miss Finland in 1952 made the film Now and Forever opposite her would-be-husband Virgilio Hilario, a Filipino businessman. After marrying Mr. Hilario, she opted to stay in the Philippines even after she was widowed.
Amparo Muñoz – The 1974 Miss Universe contest, which was held here, was won by Miss Spain in a tight contest with the four other winners. Four of these winners eventually made films in the country. Miss Munoz starred in the film titled Hayop sa Ganda with Gloria Diaz, an earlier Miss Universe winner from the Philippines . When she went back to Spain , she became a popular actress.
Maureen Ava Viera – The fourth runner-up in the 1974 Miss Universe, this sultry candidate from Aruba appeared in the film Miss Aruba Went to Town opposite basketball star Francis Arnaiz. In another film, Sa Pagitan ng Dalawang Langit, she co-starred with Filipino dramatic actor Dante Rivero.
Johanna Raunio – In the movie Lorelei , this second runner-up winner of the 1974 Miss Universe contest co-starred with comedian Chiquito and actor Raul Roa. Like Armi Kuusela, she also hails from Finland .
Helen Morgan – This Miss Wales beauty was declared first runner-up in the 1974 Miss Universe beauty pageant. She made the film Isang Gabi sa Buhay ng Isang Babae with co-stars Joseph Sytangco, Lito Legaspi, Anita Linda, Logan Clarke, Rebecca Gonzales, Lorli Villanueva, Corazon Rivas, Gatt Magay and Gene Generoso.
Mariela Perez Branger – When a local production outfit shot a film in the United States which starred Chiquito and Bernard Bonnin, titled Arizona Kid, this Miss Venezuela beauty was the leading lady. She was the 1967 Miss Universe first runner-up.
Eva Arni – In the film Gising Na ang Mga Anghel, this 1976 Miss Asia Pageant winner co-starred with former Philippine President Joseph Estrada and the late Miss Rita Gomez. She represented Papua New Guinea .
Carolyn Suzanne Sapp – The 1992 Miss America , this beauty title holder appeared in the movie Bikini Watch, which also starred rap singer and comedian Andrew E.
Dayanara Torres – The 1993 Miss Universe winner from Puerto Rico became the girlfriend of local actor Aga Muhlach and was able to make several movies in the country. The first film was Basta’t Kasama Kita which co-starred her with boyfriend Aga Muhlach. She also starred with Gary Valenciano in Hataw Na . In the film Type Kita, Walang Kokontra, Cesar Montano was her leading man. She was a semi-finalist in the 1992 Miss International contest, a year before she became Miss Universe. She married Puerto Rican singer Mark Anthony, from whom she is now divorced.
Michelle Van Eimeren – A Miss Australia in the 1994 Miss Universe beauty pageant held in Manila , she later married singer-actor Ogie Alcasid whom she met during the pre-pageant activities. They made the film Manolo and Michelle where she appeared as a mermaid. She later became a television host in the TV program Brunch.
Aside from these beauty contest title holders, it is interesting to mention two American actresses who made films here during the decade of the 1950s. They were:
Christine Jorgensen – A former soldier who underwent a sex-change operation that transformed him (George Jorgensen) into a Christine. She appeared in a cameo role in the film Kaming Mga Talyada which starred Juancho Gutierrez, Jose Mari, Dindo Fernando, Tony Marzan, Rod Navarro, Boy Alano, Charlie Davao, Bino Garcia, Barbara Perez, Daisy Romualdez, Liberty Ilagan, Meldy Corales, Naty Santiago, Juvy Cachola and Nori Dalisay. Making guest appearances were Eddie Garcia and Lilian Laing. The film was directed by Tony Cayado and was produced by Sampaguita Pictures, Inc. of the Vera-Perez family.
Joan Page – An American blonde, she made a film in 1952 titled Ang Asawa Kong Amerikana with debonair Oscar Moreno. The producer was the Vera-Perez family of Sampaguita Pictures.