But she speaks Italian Tommy.
First black Miss Italy picked amidst two judges' disapproval - Denny Mendez
Jet, Sept 23, 1996
A Black woman recently was crowned Miss Italy despite disapproval from judges because of her color.
Denny Mendez, an 18-year-old born in the Dominican Republic to a naturalized Italian mother and an Italian father, was named Miss Italy after receiving 9 million telephone votes from the television audience. But two of the judges weren't pleased with Mendez and expressed their concern whether a Black woman could represent the concept of Italian beauty.
Photographer Bob Krieger, a judge, was dismissed from the panel of judges for saying that Mendez did not belong.
"Denny is beautiful, and I would happily elect her Miss Universe," Krieger was quoted as saying in the Chicago Sun-Times. "But what has she got to do with Italy? She has nothing of that typical naughtiness of Sophia Loren. She's not Mediterranean."
Television personality Alba Parietti, who was a judge and the official Miss Italy presenter, agreed with Krieger by saying, "A Black girl can't be Miss Italy. It's not in the rules. Just like Miss Italy can't be German, a Russian, a Chinese or a Japanese girl."
Parietti was nearly dismissed also, but the head of the pageant, Enzo Mirigliani, compromised with her after he received pressure from the rest of the judges.
Oddly enough, when Mendez was named the winner, Parietti placed the crown on the 18-year-old beauty's head and embraced her.
Later Parietti said that her remarks in support of Krieger had been taken out of context to make