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October 25, 2014

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2012 Miss Universe photos: Top 16 chosen in preliminary pageant at PH Live

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Tom Donoghue/DonoghuePhotography.com

The preliminaries of the 2012 Miss Universe Pageant at Planet Hollywood on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012.

2012 Miss Universe Pageant: Preliminaries

The preliminaries of the 2012 Miss Universe Pageant hosted by Chet Buchanan and 2011 Miss Universe Leila Lopes at Planet Hollywood on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012. Launch slideshow »
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2012 Miss USA Olivia Culpo competes in the preliminaries of the 2012 Miss Universe Pageant at Planet Hollywood on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012.

Click to enlarge photo

2012 Miss USA Olivia Culpo competes in the preliminaries of the 2012 Miss Universe Pageant at Planet Hollywood on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012.

2012 Miss Universe Pageant: Preliminaries Backstage

2012 Miss China Ji Dan Xu gets her hair done by CHI stylist Won Jeong Lee backstage at the preliminaries of the 2012 Miss Universe Pageant at Planet Hollywood on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Blonde or brunette? Asian or African? American or European? Latin or Caribbean? Whatever the color, ethnicity or look, they are 89 of the world’s most knockout women, and the 2012 Miss Universe Pageant’s curvy contingent of contestants dazzled in Thursday night’s first and only preliminary competition.

Everybody attending at PH Live in Planet Hollywood was baffled as to how the 10 judges would manage to narrow down the sexy, hot stunners. These had to be the toughest choices ever. They’re just too glamorous, and as one executive told me: “We’ve never had a pageant where every one of the 89 could win.”

* They sparkled in party cocktail dresses mod-cut high above the knee.

* They shone healthy and fit in the briefest of bikinis.

* They radiated elegance in their evening gowns, even if many were slit dangerously waist high to show off bronzed long legs to perfection.

Their fate has been decided, yet not even the judges know any results at this point. In fact, nobody knows, as the judges’ votes are sealed away for the next six days in an accounting company’s security guarded safe.

Only when votes are counted and results tabulated will anybody know, as sealed envelopes are opened to announce the 16 beauties who will move forward into the finals the moment Wednesday’s NBC and Telemundo global broadcast begins. The remaining 73, all of whom are winners, remain to watch one be crowned 2012 Miss Universe by current titleholder Leila Lopes of Angola.

Last night’s audience -- including Treasure Island owner Phil Ruffin and his beautiful wife Oleksandra -- naturally had their picks from just seeing the girls. The judges have had the advantage of meeting and interviewing them all. For them, it’s not just the Hollywood superstar look or the supermodel pose. It’s about poise, charisma, personality and elegance -- finding the best young woman to become the one and only Miss Universe.

The cheering crowds -- many from Mexico, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Latin America and the Caribbean -- watched the choreographed parade rooting for their favorites. Thousands -- maybe millions -- more tuned in online to watch around the world.

It was a night that allure and glitter meshed with Las Vegas sizzle and sparkle in a perfect marriage of gorgeous glamour. There was one onstage fall as high heels caught in the long gown of a contestant, but she’ll remain nameless as she picked herself up in the fastest and neatest way possible with wild applause from the audience. Several girls stumbled and almost lost their balance on the slippery, polished stage, which hopefully will be sanded next time out.

There are favorites, with Miss USA Olivia Culpo from Rhode Island, Miss South Africa, Miss Georgia, Miss Philippines, Miss Paraguay, Miss Bolivia, Miss Croatia, Miss Sri Lanka and Miss Venezuela leading the pack. Our thanks to contributing photographer Tom Donoghue, who captured all the excitement for this morning’s gorgeous gallery.

Tonight, former Miss USA Shanna Moakler will be the commentator at the national costume show when each contestant wears an outfit to best represent her country. Las Vegas gets one last off-stage look at the ladies Sunday when they visit our beloved charity Opportunity Village’s Magical Forest decorated with more than 1 million holiday lights.

The 2012 Miss Universe Pageant is at 5 p.m. PT Wednesday after red carpet festivities with show hosts Andy Cohen and Giuliana Rancic and celebrity judges led by pageant owner Donald Trump.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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