By John McPhaul
A beauty queen who later became a popular television hostess, Puerto Rico’s first Miss Universe Marisol Malaret Contreras died on Sunday, according to various press reports. She was 73.
The cause of death was not immediately reported.
Her father’s untimely death and her mother’s chronic illness forced Malaret to work from a very young age, holding down jobs such as cleaning houses. At the time she entered the Miss Puerto Rico pageant, at the urging of make-up artist Carmen Andino, she was working as an executive secretary for the Puerto Rico Telephone Company.
Her stunning beauty, with auburn hair and blue-green eyes, made Malaret a crowd favorite in Puerto Rico and she went on to win the Miss Universe title at the Miami Beach Auditorium in Miami Beach, Florida on July 11, 1970.
Following the pageant, Malaret received one of the biggest receptions at San Juan’s Isla Verde International Airport, now Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport. The New York Times reported that “50,000 turned out to honor a Queen.”
She was also invited to the White House for a visit in the Oval Office with then-President Richard Nixon.
Malaret went on to pose for countless fashion and entertainment magazine covers and also acted as a motivational speaker for young women and young business leaders.
Malaret was married three times: to former model Butch James; to musician Corky Storman, with whom she had her only child, her daughter Sasha; and engineer Frank Cué.
Malaret has a five-year-old granddaughter, as well as one brother and five half-siblings.