1962 Miss Universe Tania Verstak. In 1961, “Miss Australia” for the first time became a Russian immigrant Tania Verstak (Tatiana Verstak). A year later, in the 1962, the Russian beauty won the contest “Miss Universe”, held in the United States. Tania was born in Tianjin, China, in a simple family of immigrants Vladimir and Valentina Verstak, who left Russia shortly after the Second World War. Tanya’s mother hails from the Urals, and her father – from Belarus. When Tanya turned a little more than 10 years, the family was forced to emigrate again, as China became communist. Almost all Russian residents left China for the U.S., Australia, Canada, Brazil. Vladimir, Valentina, and Tania Verstak moved to Australia.
In Australia, immigrants had a hard time: many of them were granted housing in the former military barracks. In addition, new immigrants men were obliged to work for two years of hard physical work away from their families and cities. Any disobedience threatened with deportation. After 2 years, they were allowed to return to their families and settle in any city in Australia.
Thus immigrants began to settle in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, open churches and clubs there. No different from other families were the Verstaks: the same heavy everyday work of immigrants. Tania had to start work early – it was necessary to help the family. Cute girl was selling Spanish olive oil.
“Becoming involved in the beauty quest was not something that I had planned or even dreamt of. My mother and father couldn’t afford to send me to university so we used to work during the holidays. We did odd jobs and one of them was at the Royal Sydney Show. I was selling, or promoting, Spanish olive oil. I was approached by a lady from The Spastic Centre who said, “Join the Miss Australia Quest.” I brought this home and my mother said, “It’ll be very good for you. You’re very shy. This will be a good experience.” The next thing I knew, it was Miss Northern Beaches and then Miss New South Wales and Miss Australia. And it just, sort of, snowballed. And the press just…it caught their imagination, because I was the first of the new Australians, the first migrant, to…to win a title in Australia”.
“All Miss Australias went to the Miss International because it was considered to be a very proper international contest. No swimsuits. Little playsuits. And the Miss Australias, of course, never appeared in a swimsuit or a bikini. And I was sent off with lovely, warm wishes, uh, a beautiful dress designed by Zara Holt. I was sent off with the words, “We don’t expect you to win, of course, but do your best.” And so it was just an overwhelming surprise to…to find yourself with a crown on. And there you are – Miss International. It was just wonderful”
After victories, Tania has traveled throught Australia, visiting each city and meeting a lot of people. Tanya also participated in charity programs collecting donations to fund “Paralytic Center” for paralyzed children.
In Balgowlah Heights, a suburb of Sydney in Australia, there is ‘Tania Park’, named after the famous Russian beauty. Her name was given to a rose that grew from a cross of roses «Charlotte Armstrong» and «Rouge Meilland»