Aliki Diplarakou

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Aliki Diplarakou, in Greek: Αλίκη Διπλαράκου, (August 28, 1912 - October 30, 2002) was the first Greek contestant to win the Miss Europe title after winning the "Miss Hellas" (Μις Ελλάς) title at the Miss Star Hellas Pageant.

Family

She was the daughter of Georgios Diplarakos and Elena Nikolessi. Although the Diplarakos family lived in Athens, they originally were Maniots (Μανιάτες, from "Krini", Κρήνη) in the Peloponnese area. Her original family name was "Vavouli" (Βαβούλη) but the family changed it to her paternal grandmother's maiden name of Diplarakos.

Aliki was married twice; the first time was on October 31, 1932 to Paul-Louis Weiller, a wealthy French director of the Gnome et Rhône family. They had one child, Paul-Annick Weiller who married Princess Olimpia Torlonia di Civitella-Cesi. They became parents of Princess Sibilla of Luxembourg.

Her second marriage took place on December 15, 1945 to Sir John (Jack) Wriothesley Russell, who was descended from John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford, giving her the title Lady Russell. They had two children, Georgiana Alexandra Russell and Alexander Charles Thomas Wriothesley Russell.

Career

In 1929, Aliki entered the "Miss Hellas" pageant as Miss Athens. Her biggest competitor was Miss Thessaloniki Roxani Stergiou (Ρωξάνη Στεργίου), who came in second to Aliki. Aliki won the title and was given the chance to represent her country at the Miss Europe event in Paris, where she was crowned Miss Europe on February 6, 1930.

That same year the 18-year-old brunette beauty was once more given the chance to represent her country and Europe in the Miss Universe Contest. The event was held on October 13, 1930 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Aliki did very well, coming away as runner-up.

Aliki can be seen as somewhat of a pioneer in the beauty contest world. In an era when it was believed that pageant winners with intelligence did not exist, she proved them wrong. She toured the United States giving lectures on ancient and modern Greek culture. Aside from her native Greek language, she also spoke fluent English, French and Italian. She made headlines in the 1930s when she dressed up in men's clothes and smuggled herself into the monks' sanctuary on Mount Athos which had stood "inviolated" since the time of the Byzantine Empire, save for harbouring female refugees twice in the past.

When asked by reporters on how she became Miss Europe, she was quoted in Time magazine as saying:

"My mother, some friends and I were at tea one day last year at the British Embassy in Athens when someone for fun suggested we go look at the beauty contest being held in an Athens theatre. We went and sat in a box. The judges... suddenly called out my name. I thought they were fooling... When I tried to refuse, the President of Greece said I must accept as a patriotic duty. Three days later I found myself in Paris: I won the European contest, and of course had then to go through with it and go to Rio."

Aliki also tried her skills in theater, her first appearance being in Prometheus.

On July 13, 1953, Aliki was a featured item in a Time's article, "The Climax of Sin"[1], which discussed the transformation of women's role throughout history. Aliki was mentioned in regard to her escapades of dressing up as a man and sneaking into Mount Athos where no women were allowed.

Diplarakou died on October 30, 2002.


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