Miami-Dade County

A Miami Beach love story born at Miss Universe 50 years ago

Steven and Dorothea Green met at the Miss Universe in Miami Beach.
Steven and Dorothea Green met at the Miss Universe in Miami Beach. Green Family

They met a half-century ago at the very same Miss Universe pageant now at Florida International University. And the library on that very college campus now bears their names.

In 1964, the year New York welcomed the World’s Fair, Dorothea Langhans, 19, recently crowned Miss New York, traveled to Miami Beach to compete for the Miss USA and Miss Universe titles. She stepped from the plane donning a miniature version of the iconic World's Fair globe atop her head.

In the midst of the pageantry, Langhans met Steven J. Green, a college student working as an adminstrative assistant to then Miami-Dade Mayor Charles Hall.

“The mayor and Steve were backstage when I met them. Steve was so nice and so gracious. I was there a couple of weeks with all the pageant activities and we kept bumping into each other,” says Dorothea Green, 69. “After the contest we started dating.”

Theirs was a long-distance love. Dorothea had returned to New York where she was a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology and working as a model. Steven was a student at the University of Miami.

Three years later, Dorothea moved to Miami to be with him, accepting a job with Eastern Airlines as a ground stewardess.

“I went to be fitted for my uniform and we just decided to get married instead,” she says chuckling. “I never actually worked for Eastern.”

The short version of what happened next: The Greens married and had two daughters, Andrea and Kimberly. A former chairman and CEO of Samsonite Corp., Steven was named U.S. ambassador to Singapore in 1998.

Years before, the couple also launched the Green Family Foundation to support social programs including homeless assistance, disaster relief, HIV/AIDS prevention and education and access to the arts.

Over the years, the Greens have supported FIU’s Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum, along with the university’s medical and healthcare program — and the campus library that carries their name.

On Sunday, the couple planned to attend the Miss Universe pageant carrying the personal memories born 50 years ago.

“This is so exciting and so sentimental for us,’’ she says. “I wish I still had that globe. It would be a hoot if I wore it on my head again!”

Related stories from Miami Herald