Over the 19th century, Italy’s diaspora made important contributions to the Latin American societies, from music and sport to gastronomy and technology, when a host of Italians arrived to Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Argentina and Chile.
In Pittsburgh (U.S.), Argentina’s golfer Roberto de Vicenzo, along with Jerome D. Travers and Gene Littler, was elected to the National Golf Hall of Fame on November 12, 1974, after winning several international meets in the United States of America and Western Europe. Four year later, Cesar Luis Menotti made history as he led the Argentine side to win its first FIFA World Cup at the expense of Holland and Brazil. After Victor Manuel Pecci helped the Paraguayan tennis squad to a 3-2 win over the United States, he had become a national hero in the late 1980s. Like Vicenzo and Menotti, Mr. Pecci has Italian roots.
In that same year, on May 21, 1987, Miss Chile Universe Cecilia Bolocco, the daughter of Italian immigrants, made international headlines as became the 18th women from the Americas to win the Miss Universe title, curiously upon defeating Italy’s contestant Roberta Capua. Historically, she is one of only two beauties from Italian origin. Without a doubt, she is extraordinarily popular in her native country and Latin America.
Cecilia Carolina Bolocco Fonck was born on May 19, 1965 in Santiago, Chile’s capital, the daughter of Enzo Bolocco and Rose Marie Fonck. At the age 12, she made ballet her top priority. Afer attending local schools, she studied civil engineering at Santiago University without taking a degree. Then, upon studying fashion designer, she became an amateur dancer at Santiago, home to much of the country’s beauty queens such as Marianne Muller, Claudia van Sint Jan del Pedregal and Macarena Mina.
Five years after being regarded as one of the pre-favorites to earn the annual pageant at Lima, Peru’s capital, Chile won the event as Cecilia Bolocco was crowned MU by the born-Spanish Venezuelan Barbara Palacios during a Chinese-style coronation in the modern state of Singapore. Chile thus became the first and only South American country to ever take first place over Venezuela in the 1980s.
Welcome to Colombia
As Miss United States and Miss Texas USA, Christy Fichtner, Miss Chile Mariana Villasante Aravena was hailed as a top candidate and had the third best score in the first round at the 1986 Miss Universe in Panama City (Central America). Inspired by Villasante’s performance in Panama’s capital, on April 20, 1987, Bolocco participated at Miss Chile 1987 and won the award, winning the right to participate at Miss Universe in Singapore City.
Before participating in Asia, two weeks ago, she and nine other entries went to Cartagena (Colombia) to compete at the 6th Miss South America, a pre-Miss Universe contest which had been dominated by Venezuela’s entries between 1981 and 1985. This event had a special significant after Miss South America 1986, Barbara Palacios, captured the universal prize in July 1986.
The 6th Edition of the Miss South America was won by the host country’s delegate Patricia Lopez, followed by Victoria Zangaro of Uruguay, Ines Calero of Venezuela and Patricia Arce of Bolivia. In the meantime, Bolocco attracted little attention in Cartagena and was eliminated in the first round. Nonetheless, she was undeterred by failure. Following competing in Colombia, she trip to Singapore (among the world’s wealthiest nations), where there were big surprises.
A Dark Horse at Singapore
Because of her continental title, Colombia’s representative Lopez was a strong favorite of the local press at Singapore. Meanwhile, Bolocco was not among the favorites, but she gradually won the respect of the international judges and qualified for the semifinals well ahead of many pre-favorites such as Miss India and Miss Colombia. During her stay in Singapore, on the other hand, she had a good friendship with Miss Honduras, who had won the Miss Amity.
Bolocco’s win was one of the surprises in Miss Universe; it was the first appearance for Chile in the finals. Five years ago, the nation’s delegate Jenny Purtho Arap had failed to make the semi-finals in Peru, after being considered as one of the heavy-favorites among Peruvian journalists and international experts.
Miss Universe 1987
During Bolocco’s reign, she visited twenty-two nations, including the Republic of China or Taiwan. One of the most controversial moments during her reign was when she was honored by the Chilean administration, led by dictator Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, as one of the “Heros of the Conception”. Over the following years, she was a special judge in many international pageants, among them Miss U.S.A 1989, Miss Colombia 1994 and Miss Peru Universe 1996.
In addition to her universal title, Miss Bolocco holds three Chilean records. Firstly, she was the first Chilean woman to win the global crown in Miss Universe’s 60-year of history. Secondly, she became the first personality from Chile ever invited to be judge at Miss Universe in the mid-1990s; actor Christian de la Fuente became the second judge from Chile four years after. At Las Vegas’96, she support the candidature of Miss Venezuela, Alicia Machado. Thirdly, she was the first Latin American to be elected co-host in May 1993, together with Dick Clarck and Angela Visser.
Eight years after being Miss Chile and Miss Universe, she became a journalist and TV actress. Due to her excellent interviews with high-profile performers as Anthony Quinn, the Miami-based Chilean journalist Bolocco picked up a total of two Emmy awards in the early 1990s.
Toward the end of the 20th century, she was voted one of the two most influential women in Chile, along with the Nobel-prize winning Gabriela Mistral. A tireless promoter of her country, Bolocco led a Chilean mission to Singapore to explore new trade opportunities. Finally, Bolocco has several fans around the world, among them Miss World 1995 ,Jacqueline Aguilera, and Brazil’s author Paolo Coelho.
(1)- “Chile en Miss Sudamerica 1987” (English & Spanish), www.chileancharm.com
(2)- Guevara Onofre, Alejandro. “Cecilia Bolocco'”Miss Chile & Miss Universe”, ezinearticles, June 2008
(3)—————- “Miss Universe Facts & Figures”, April 2007