Penny Commissiong and Alwin Chow

My Urban Glamor: Style and Beauty Tips from Stylist and Makeup Artist Danielle Gray

In honor of Black History Month, every day in February I will post pics and background info about Black women who have made a major impact in the world of beauty.

Today’s Black Beauty History nominee is Janelle “Penny” Commissiong of Trinidad and Tobago who in 1977 became the first Black woman to win the Miss Universe title:

Janelle “Penny” Commissiong-Bowen-Chow (born 1953 in Port of Spain) is the first person from Trinidad and Tobago to win Miss Universe and the first woman of predominantly African descent to win the pageant.

Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Commissiong migrated to the United States at the age of 13, and returned to Trinidad and Tobago ten years later. After winning the Miss Trinidad and Tobago title, she went on to be crowned Miss Universe 1977 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

She married Brian Bowen, founder of Bowen Marine, who died in an accident in November of 1989. After his death she married businessman Alwin Chow.

Commissiong was awarded the Trinity Cross, her country’s highest honor, in 1977. Three postage stamps were also issued in her honor.


Then and now — Miss Penny is still stunning and radiant.

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