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Miss Universe Captivates New York

The first army sergeant to become Miss Universe, the strikingly beautiful Rina Messinger of Israel, today held her first press conference in this country and simply captivated the tough New York press corps. It was not only her beauty but also her warmth, charm and sincerity that dazzled the scores of reporters and onlookers that surrounded the 20-year-old Miss Universe for 1976, at the Promenade Cafe at Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan.

Wearing a green dress and her Miss Universe crown, which she won July 11 in Hong Kong, Ms. Messinger said: “I am so surprised by New York City. I thought New York must be ugly and unpleasant, you know, I saw all those movies about New York….But New York is beautiful and the people here are really nice.”

Ms. Messinger, who is the first Israeli ever to capture the title of the “world’s most beautiful woman,” said that she does not see her future as a movie star. “All I want is to continue to study….I want to learn about everything, about people, about life,” she said.

“I am representing my country,” the 5′ 71/2″ beauty with light brown hair and dark blue eyes declared. “As Miss Universe I can reach people who are usually not interested in politics and are not familiar with the problems of the Mideast. In that way I can make a modest contribution to peace. And another thing: as Miss Universe I can show the world that life in Israel is not all war….”

SAYS SHE MISSES ISRAEL

After mentioning that she considers former Israeli Premier Golda Meir to be the greatest person in the world today, Ms. Messinger said: “I believe that men and women should be equal. I believe in equal pay for women…but I must admit I like men to open doors for me or letting me first out of the elevator.” Asked what she thought about American men, she replied, “Well, I did not meet any yet,” adding, “I have a boyfriend back in Israel.” Asked if she received any offers for marriage since she has won the title of Miss Universe, Ms. Messinger smiled broadly and said. “No. Not yet. But in Hong Kong one man was sending me everyday a bottle of champagne and flowers.”

Ms. Messinger, who will be staying in New York for a week before returning to Israel, said, when asked by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency if she has any message for the people in Israel. “Ani nora mitgagat L’Israel” (I miss Israel, terribly). And then she added: “At times I miss Israel so much that I can’t avoid the tears in my eyes.” Ms. Messinger said that she is contributing part of her $10,000 cash prize for her winning the title of Miss Universe, to the fund for wounded Israeli soldiers.

SECURITY AT MINIMUM

Asked if she is provided with extra security because she is an Israeli. Miss Universe said: “I am guarded as any other Miss Universe would be guarded. I don’t have extra guards and I don’t feel it is necessary.” Security, in fact, was not strict at today’s press conference. Correspondents walked in without being asked to Identify themselves. Although Ms. Messinger said she has no extra guards, the JTA correspondent spotted at least one Israeli secret service man watching her very closely–more for reasons of security than beauty.

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