The year was 1954.

A starry eyed teenager, Maria Marta Rocha, winner of the Miss Brazil contest, came to the US to take part in the Miss Universe pageant.

Maria Martha Hacker Rocha

The Miss Universe pageant had been started in 1952. But as airline tickets were expensive, the contestants were mainly from Europe and the Americas.

18 year old Marta, statuesque and stunning, gained in popularity despite her youth, cutting a swathe through the 33 other contestants.

Placed in the final five along with Miss Germany, Miss Hong Kong, Miss USA and Miss Sweden, Marta was within grasp of her dreams.

Eventually Miss Sweden and Miss Germany fell away. Miss Hong Kong  grabbed the 2nd Runner-Up and finally there were only two women left!

Miss USA, Miriam Stevenson and Miss Brazil, Marta Rocha both locked in the 1st place.

Miriam and Marta

In order to break the tie, Catalina swim wear the main sponsor of the pageant, proposed that the winner be decided based on their hip measurements!

The final judgment came down to the fact that Miriam’s hips were 2 inches (51 mm) smaller than that of curvaceous Marta.

Although she lost out to American Miriam Stevenson, Marta had won the hearts of fans all over the world. They were taken by her beauty, her class and her captivating blue eyes.

Marta Rocha’s mesmerising eyes!

The decision seemed unfair even to Miriam Stevenson with her girl-next-door looks. In a generous display of sisterhood/solidarity Miriam shared one of the two cars she won with Marta.

Though not the “winner”, Marta made more waves than any other Miss Universe contestant.

In 1954 an incredible aquamarine crystal was found on a farm near Teofilo Otoni, Brazil. It weighed approximately 74.5 pounds and the colour was so rich, so intense that the Brazilian gem dealers needed to distinguish it from the rest. They named it “Martha Rocha” as a special tribute to the Brazilian beauty queen with the captivating clear blue eyes.

The aquamarine
The Marta Rocha Torta

A Brazilian women’s group from Rio Grade do Sul created a rich and decadent cake and immortalised Marta by naming it after her.

A minute on your lips, a lifetime on your hips!

The cake is so rich that a slice of it will add more than 2 inches to your hips.

Marta is now a grande dame, all of 83. But her eyes are still the same captivating blue, that set many hearts aflutter all those decades ago.