Puerto Rican beauty queen Marisol Malaret dies

 March 21, 2023

Marisol Malaret, the Puerto Rican beauty queen who was the first woman from the island to be crowned Miss Universe, has died. She was 73.

The cause of death is unknown, but Malaret spent several days in the hospital before she passed in her hometown of San Juan, Telemundo reported.

Puerto Rican beauty queen dies

Malaret was orphaned at a young age when both her parents tragically died, leaving an aunt to raise Malaret and her brother.

Standing at 5 foot 8, Malaret was a 20-year-old secretary at a telephone company when she was crowned Miss Universe at the Miami Beach Auditorium in July 1970, defeating Debbie Shelton of the United States.

The green-eyed, auburn-haired beauty was the first Puerto Rican woman to win the title. She instantly became the pride of the impoverished island, which greeted her with a rapturous crowd of 50,000 upon her return home, the New York Times reported at the time.


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TV host

Malaret also had the honor of meeting President Richard Nixon at the White House.

She would later appear in the 1971 movie Mami and worked as a presenter for a decade on the Telemundo Puerto Rico variety show Noche de Gala. 

Her longtime co-host Eddie Miró said Malaret was a role model for his own daughters.

"Today the celestial universe dresses up as it receives our queen," he said.

Tributes for beauty queen

Miss Universe Organization president Paula Shugart called Malaret "a very special woman, the embodiment of beautifully confident," while Puerto Rico's governor, Pedro Pierluisi, declared a day of mourning for the "eternal" beauty queen.

"It is with great sadness that we receive the news of the passing of our eternal Miss Universe, Marisol Malaret. She will always keep a special place in the hearts of all Puerto Ricans and her name and achievements will be engraved in our history," he wrote.

Miss Universe 1993 Dayanara Torres, who is also Puerto Rican, said that Malaret was her biggest inspiration growing up.

"Puerto Rico today loses one of its great treasures, but its legacy and the glory it gave us will last forever," she said.

Malaret leaves behind a husband, a daughter from a past marriage, and a granddaughter.

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