The bitter-sweet reign of Miss Universe 1974 Amparo Muñoz

10 Apr 2020 | Priya Bhardwaj

Amparo Muñoz was a Spanish actress, model and a beauty pageant titleholder who was crowned Miss Universe 1974 on 21st July 1974 at the Folk Arts Theatre in Manila, Philippines. Amparo represented Spain at the competition and was declared as the winner by the end of the event finale. She was the first and the only Spanish model to have won the crown in the history of Miss Universe pageant. In the past, Spain has won first runner-up in 1985 and 2013 in the same contest.

When her predecessor, the Philippines’ Margie Moran, placed the glittery tiara on her head, Muñoz was a 20-year-old former secretary and aspiring movie actress from Malaga, Spain. With her reddish-brown hair flowing in sharp contrast to her green gown, she looked like an ethereal mermaid queen.


The bitter-sweet reign of Miss Universe 1974 Amparo Muñoz


One of the things that separates this queen from others is the fact that she surrendered her title as well as her crown after six months to the Miss Universe Organization. She refused to travel to Japan and fulfil her Miss Universe duties during her reign. However, the Miss Universe Organization decided that she will remain as the official titleholder of Miss Universe 1974 since the title was not offered to 1st runner-up Miss Wales Helen Elizabeth Morgan.

Described as headstrong and tempestuous, she was frequently at loggerheads with pageant organizers. In a fit of rage, she supposedly threw her Miss Universe crown against the wall, smashing it to smithereens. But there has been no evidence to support that the queen did that.

Pilar Aldanese who served as the interpreter for Amparo and Miss Nicaragua Fanny Tapia back then, described the diva as beautiful person, contrary to reports that she had a violent temper and bad attitude. He further explained that she was very cooperative and understanding towards him and would listen to what he’d say. “She was very young when she competed in Miss Universe. The pageant was a new experience to her. You just have to explain everything to her”, he concluded.


Miss Universe 1974 Amparo Muñoz


Amparo was interested in acting and the world of cinema and took a turn towards that road. Before she participates in Miss Universe 1974 pageant, she debuted on-screen in 1973 film, Wholesome Married Life, directed by Roberto Bodegas and written by José Luis Garci, she played the temptress of José Sacristán, a married man obsessed with publicity. The diva excelled as an actress but her career took a turn when she started to appear in some blockbuster movies Dedicatory (1980), Memorias de un visitador medico (1980), La mujer del ministro (1981) etc. She became one of the successful actresses in the country.

But the worst came in January 1990 when the newspaper published false news: ‘Actress Amparo Muñoz is dying of AIDS.’ It was in a time of misinformation about the disease and with social psychosis about the spread of HIV. The diva denied the rumours and went ahead with her life focusing on whatever movies she could get.

In 2005, Amparo wrote her tell-all memoir entitled “Life is the Price.” The memoir unwittingly served as the final testament on her triumphs, travails and tribulations. She wistfully remarked: “I’ve lived my life the best I could, never intending to harm anyone. If I have hurt anyone, it has been myself and my parents, who have suffered a great deal. I’ve respected everyone, most of all God, though I haven’t been treated with respect myself. I hope people will start to do that now.”


Miss Universe 1974 Amparo Muñoz from Spain


She passed away, surrounded by family, in her home in Malaga, on 27th February 2011. She was only 56. The cause of her death was undisclosed. The beauty queen turned actress dealt with depression and stated in one of her interviews, “I got sick the same day my Papa died of pulmonary infection. I was devastated by his death because I couldn’t ask forgiveness from him for everything that I did. At first, I felt little symptoms. I would get dizzy when tying my shoes. So, I consulted a doctor and at first, he told me, ‘I’m afraid that you have cancer of the brain.’ Soon, I was vomiting and feeling tremors. I was checked again by my doctor who found an abnormal growth in my cerebellum. So, I underwent chemotherapy.”

Spain did not have a great 1974 year as the delegate who was the first and the only Miss Universe resigned from the position putting the Miss Universe Spain Organization in a very crucial position. The diva passed away a few years ago accompanied by her loved ones.