20th place – Miss Universe 1957 – Gladys Zender

20th place – Gladys Zender (Peru)

(Our judges are: Greg Borowski, Willian Prendiz de Jurado, Edwin Toledo (Times of Beauty), Ricardo Guiraldes (Chilean Charm), Julio Rodriguez (Belleza Venezolana), Alberto Dubal (Miss Memorabilia), Jimmy Harris (Beauty School), Pepe Medel, Jean-Marie Vandecasteele, Andre Sleigh, Rose Foulger, Luis Trujillo. From GB, Ed Dominguez, Henrique Fontes, and Chris Kuntz)

The 6th Miss Universe pageant, Miss Universe 1957, was held in Long Beach, California, USA, for the 6th consecutive time. Initially thirty-three, and finally thirty-two contestants, competed. Miss USA was disqualified for being married.

Contestants' arrival in L.A.

It was an edition packed with controversies, dramatic twists, and lies. A whole book could be written on Miss Universe 1957. The problems began in the end of 1956, when Universal Studios decided to leave the pageant, as an associate and sponsor. The thousands of girls who participated in Miss Universe dreaming of becoming a Hollywood start, no longer had that chance, at least through the pageant.

Even Carol Morris, Miss Universe 1956, had her contract with Universal cut short, causing great disappointment on her. For many, it was the beginning of the end. The situation was so chaotic, that it was believed that Miss Universe 1958 would be the pageant’s last edition…

One year earlier, when Latin America was not present in the top 5 of Miss Universe, national directors menaced to boycott it in 1957, which ended up not happening. Only Chile and Dominican Republic failed to return, and Paraguay debuted. Two other countries which sent delegates for the first time to Miss U were Morocco and Martinique. Martinique was the first black beauty to compete in the pageant, Ginette Cidalise-Montaise. She spoke English and French, and caught the press attention with her elegance and stunning figure.

Martinique: the first black Miss U delegate

Both Morocco and Martinique were expected among the semi-finalists.

Even though in general terms the European group was one of the weakest in the 1950′s, one delegate was the absolute favorite for the crown: Germany’s Gerti Daub. A Grace Kelly look-alike, the German stunner was chosen as Miss Photogenic by unanimity. The other European standout was Miss Sweden, Ingrid Jonsson.

Miss Italy was a very controversial beauty. Always posing for photos like a sexy movie star, she challenged the organization by showing up at the pool area of the  Laffayette Hotel with a red and white swimsuit brought from home, alleging that she did not like the Catalina model (Catalina was an official sponsor of the pageant). In the following day, the Los Angeles Examiner wrote: “In Bologna OK, in Long Beach …NO!”.

The favorites from the Americas were Brazil, Uruguay, Canada (voted the Most Popular Girl), Venezuela, Argentina and Puerto Rico.

Miss Peru in nc

Miss Peru, Gladys Zender, was late. She was the last candidate to join the group, and at first did not catch the press attention. She was nicknamed “Miss Socialite”, for coming from a prominent family. The Peruvian girl started shinning when she finally got on stage: she was considered one of the most elegant and had a unique way of walking and moving her arms. She would always put one hand over the other at the height of her belly, just like a true queen. Suddenly, Miss Peru started being mentioned as a possible semi-finalist.

Leona Gage, Miss Maryland, confirmed her favoritism when she was elected Miss USA. She immediately became another favorite for the Miss Universe crown, and one of the Top 15 semi-finalists, announced the night before the final event. The other 14 were Alaska, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, England, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Morocco, Peru, Sweden, and Uruguay.

Germany's loss one of the hugest upsets in Miss U history

Favorites from Martinique, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico (Miss Amity), did not make the cut.

At that same night, an anonymous call to a pageant official, would twist the fate of Miss USA: she was accused of being married, which, at first, she denied. The next day it was confirmed. Not only she was married, but also she was the mother of two boys! Such scandal was all the Miss Universe organizers did not need at such difficult times, but it was only the beginning!

Leona lost her title and her spot among the semi-finalists. Miss Argentina, Mónica Lamas, replaced her. Leona Gage passed away in 2010.

Despite all the scandals Miss Universe was facing, the Municipal Auditorium was crowed to its full-capacity and there were hundreds of people outside trying to get in. In addition, never before so many journalists and press photographers covered the final event. They all wanted to know: what was next??

Top 15

Although it was not a surprise to see Miss Peru among the semi-finalists, nobody expected her to go any further than that. When the top 5 were announced, Brazil, Cuba, England, Germany, and Peru, the inclusion of Cuba, and mostly Peru and England, shocked the crowd. At that point, Miss Germany was thought to be the next Miss Universe, that was not a single soul who doubted that!

Suddenly, Miss Germany was announced as 4th runner-up! That was probably more shocking than the dethroned married and mother-of-two Miss USA!! The crowd booed the judges’ decision for minutes, non-stop! The outrage was such, that in the following day the city of Long Beach presented Gerti Daub (Miss Germany) with a plaque saying that she was Long Beach people’s honor and moral winner of Miss Universe 1957. It was given by the mayor of Long Beach.

Top 5 in ss and gowns

As the people attending the pageant finally calmed down, Miss Cuba was announced in 4th and Miss England in 3rd place. With Brazil and Peru left, it was believed that Brazil, Terezinha Morango, had it, but in a year full of upsets, Miss Peru, Gladys Zender, was announced as the winner. Mad and disappointed with what the judges had done to Miss Germany, the crowd reaction to Miss Peru’s victory was the most frivolous since the pageant started in 1952.

Later it was revealed that Misses Peru and Brazil had tied in first place, each with 5 votes. The tie-break factor was the Top 15 voting round, and then Miss Peru won by a two-vote difference.

Crowning moment

And that was not the end! The first Latin American to be crowned Miss Universe nearly lost her title twice. First, her father would not let her sign the contract until all clauses were reviewed in detailed and some were changed, under his demand. One of them was that her mother would be with her in all Zender’s trips as Miss Universe (would Mr. Trump accept something like that nowadays?).

Then, it was discovered that Miss Peru was not 18, as she was supposed to be, according to Miss Universe regulation, the moment she competed. She was 17 + 9 months old. Again, Miss Peru’s father attested that in Peru, when a person was 17 1/2 years old, she was no longer a minor. The Consulate of Peru in L.A. confirmed it the following day, and, although it was against the U.S. laws, and the Miss Universe regulation, her title was ratified to avoid another scandal. Miss Brazil, who just wanted to go back home and get married, did not file a formal complain.

And there was more… It was discovered that Miss England was over age (25) and, her real name was Cynthia Cooper, and not Sonia Hamilton, and both her parents were Australians!

Zender with her "chaperone mom" and "tough dad"

For Miss Universe organizers, 1957 was a year to be forgotten, or at least, to learn many lessons from. Starting in 1958, pageant officials started reviewing the contestants’ forms and documentation in a much more strict way.

Ironically, instead of sinking the pageant, all such scandals renewed the interest in Miss Universe, and the pageant returned stronger in 1958.

If not the most popular choice when elected, Gladys Zender is always remembered as one of the most glamorous and elegant women to have been crowned Miss Universe. Back home, she was welcomed by thousands of people, all proud of her achievement. Zender secluded herself into a family life. She got married and had four children, one of them, Christian Meier, a well-known actor and singer in Peru.

GLADYS ZENDER
2nd PLACE
MOST BEAUTIFUL MISS UNIVERSE FROM THE 1950′s

Special thanks to Alberto Dubal!

(Still competing: 1953, 1961, 1963, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 (dethroned winner), 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010)

 

Miss Universe 1957: Gladys Zender of Peru

Top 5: Cuba (4th), England (3rd), Peru (1st), Brazil (2nd), Germany (5th)

Gladys of Peru, and Teresinha of Brazil, on the cover of Manchete

55 comments to 20th place – Miss Universe 1957 – Gladys Zender

  • Rodney

    I think she is glamorous, she has a very classic Hollywood star look, but I personally don’t think she is as beautiful as others who have been eliminated. Also, for someone who was just 17 when she won, she looked considerably older, and not necessarily in a good way.

    • Neiti Hattunen

      That`s right! I was just about to write the same things about Gladys: she is glamorous indeed, like a femme fatale from Film Noir movies, but there are many more beautiful MU-winners who dropped earlier in this poll. Gladys is 32nd on my list, I think she is more stunning than her runner-ups.

    • Ava Gardner

      Indeed, Gladys Zender has some great glamour shots reminiscent of the glorious beauty AVA GARDNER. However, I also find myself DEBATING her actual beauty as opposed to her apparent photogenic prowess. There are times when I feel inclined to rank her high and then I see some rather ordinary socialite photographs that make me feel that she is overrated. One thing is for sure, she is not more beautiful than Georgina Rizk or Maritza Sayalero.

      Bravo GLADYS…your son CHRISTIAN MEIER is sizzling HOT!!!

    • Luis

      You have to consider that styles and photogenic not necessarily revealed the true beauty of a contestant. With the pictures I see published indeed we could say she might not be as beautiful and some others already ranked. But deeply I noticed she got style that might have favored her at the time of final competition.

  • Ashley

    Wow… this is my favorite commentary post of the pageant so far. Nicely written!

  • Andy

    So her father broke US law, lied to the organizers and then got all demanding?. No, Trump would have sent him and his family packing to Peru!.

  • Jason

    I think she had a nice body and an exotic face, but she was not very photogenic, she looks contrite, unnatural in all of her pictures, like she is not sure what to do.

  • jodato

    Que bella era la representante de alemania, espectacular!!!

  • Kate

    Gladys Zender ranked 28th in GB’s 2001 contest.

    The winner for the 1950s is set: Christiane Martel.

    The top 5 for South America is set: Ieda Vargas, Barbara Palacios Teyde, Cecilia Bolocco, Alicia Machado, Dayana Mendoza.

  • Ken

    So temperate people (Glady’s parents) prevail when people just want to avoid controversy. What a strange year 1957 was. This was the most entertaining read of all editions. It is all tabloid material, and I am not even sure if all of those were true, but it just shows controversy sells. Having said that, she is pretty and classy looking enough to be in the top 20. Miss Germany obviously look the prettiest, but since when does the best looking woman win in the early days anyway?
    I am anxious to see Christiane Martel’s article and how did her competitors look like!

  • Ken

    Sorry i mean intemperate people, that i what Glady’s parents are, lying and then demanding. However, that did not prevent Miss Universe from crowning another Latino the next year in 1958, so maybe it was not as bad as the article suggested?

    • admin

      The article by no means affirmed that crowning a Latin delegate was something “bad”.

      • Ken

        I really means Miss Peru was the first Latino winner, so despite all those scandals, wrong age identification, difficult parents, Miss Universe go ahead to crown a back to back Latino winner between 1957 and 1958. Of course most Latino winners are beautiful, so by no means crowning a beautiful delegate was bad, it is just the backstage politics. The entire tabloidy article did indirectly pointed that Miss Peru did not deserve to win at all, and with all those backstage problems, a sane person would just avoid crowning another winner so soon from the same region( if not the same country). Anyhow, I just overread the deep meanings of this article, so I regret any misunderstanding my messaged might have caused.

        • admin

          You are WRONG again. The article did not point that Peru didn’t deserve the title. Everything written in this article and in all others, is the result of deep research. As a matter of fact, Alberto Dubal, who contributed with most of the 1957 facts (from his amazing collection of magazines and newspapers from that time), gave Zender a PERFECT 10,0 and has the Peruvian titleholder as one of his own favorites. The FACT is that most people in Long Beach, in 1957, did not think she deserved to win. We just reported on what happened. Afterwards, just like many other Miss Universe titleholders who won the crown despite not being a favorite, Zender did a great job and became an all-time favorite. She is in GB’s Top 20, does it mean we are saying she didn’t deserve to win?

  • prinpoleon

    beautiful gladys zender is incredible than she has only 17 year old when she win the crown is amazing in my ranking she place 20 and in this ranking she place 20 jejeje

  • Dean

    …and judging by your pictures not always Miss Peru would “put a hand over the other at the heigh of the belly”… just take a look at England and Cuba. That was a very 1950′s trend

  • Ariadna

    Wow, Miss Germany was perfect! But still I don’t know why people booed Peru, she was gorgeous too, a classic latina beauty.

  • Elmonje88

    Bella Gladys, Espectacular la Alemana……………buena posición a la peruana………..A mi gusto, la 19 debe ser Marlene Schmidt (Alemania) y 18 Ieda María Vargas (Brasil)

  • jacobson

    ii always thought they read the results in reverse order by mistake. Of well. On to #19. Can we a girl named Ximena or Denise

  • dilip indian

    best read till date.so many controversies,so much masala(spice in hindi).no doubt all these arose the curiosity level of the people.imagine how much viewership rating would have jumped if all these masala gossips would have taken place nowadays.beautywise gladys is not that beautiful so as to occupy this high ranking.gb’s 2001 ranking of 28 was perfect for her.i agree with jacobson’s statement that the result appears as if read in reverse order.
    It was sweet of the people of long beach to honour miss germany.it was so sentimental.moreover it was also the era when cuba used to compete at miss universe.pleasantly surprised that morocco used to compete and got placed in sf of mu.so much titbits and entertaining information,which would not have been possible without the unrelenting hardwork of entire globalbeauties team and the judges.thanks so much to the GB team,keep up the good work.

  • JG MEX

    Well for Peru!!
    The Next are:
    19th: Ximena Navarrete (Mexico)
    18th: Denisse Quiñonez (Puerto Rico)
    17th: Christiane Martel (Germany)

  • OkAs

    #19 Ieda Vargas- Brasil
    #18 Cecilia Bolocco- Chile
    #17 Alicia Machado- Venezuela
    #16 Janelle Commisiong – Trinidad/Tobago
    #15 Denisse Quiñones- Puerto Rico

  • KL

    It is interesting since Miss USA and Miss Universe and taking place back to back, you’d think that Leona Gage would have gotten away with it but she was dethroned in 1 day flat. Wonder who tipped off the press.

    And as for Gladys, I also wonder why her age became an issue AFTER she won, but not before.

    And judging by the photos, Miss Germany do deserve a higher ranking than in 5th place, perhaps 3rd if not the runner-up.

    And I wonder if Gladys’ victory and Brazil’s runner-up position have something to do with past Latin American delegates grousing about how they are being judged unfairly.

  • Tina

    Zender is 1000 x more beautiful than Bolocco!

  • Francisco

    Pensé que llegaría a estar por lo menos en el top 10, Felicitaciones Perú.

  • Pedro Chadid

    Preciosa!!!! Y su hijo es el GUAPO actor Christian Meier. Qué pasa con la Puertorriqueña que debió haber salido hace mucho ratoooooooo es cute pero no es de las mejores Miss Universo en un top que tenga sentido común…

  • Felipe

    Little by little the winners from the past are falling down.
    Does anybody doubt that the winner will be from the 2000′s ? Make your bets…. Oxana , Glebova , Dayana , Jenifer, Lara , name her…

    • Eric

      That’s too be expected and not only because we are more “used” to the contemporary concept of beauty but for the the fact that delegates nowadays are better prepared than in the past. Nowadays, you barely see a FAT contestant in the Top 5. Most of them have perfect body (tonified yet feminine), with enhanced breasts and noses. They work the catwalk, the crowd, and the judges like no one before.

  • Dencil

    Two of the three most beautiful MU are gone, Maritza and Margareta, so nunber one should be Christian Martel from France.

  • Mario

    VIENDO LAS FOTOS EN REALIDAD ERA BELLA EN ALGUNAS SOLAMENTE, CREO QUE MERECÍA ESE LUGAR, MUY BIEN POR EL RANKING, CREO QUE HAN SABIDO BOTAR RESPECTO A LA BELLEZA POR GENERACIONES, SI NO, TODAS LAS MISS UNIVERSO ANTIGUAS HUBIESEN SIDO LAS PRIMERAS EN SALIR Y NO FUE ASI, FELICITACIONES…

  • Mario

    VOTAR, DISCULPEN =D ME ACABO DE DAR CUENTA JAJA

  • Antorcha

    My bets are still intact: 1) Oxana, 2) Natalie, 3) Angela, 4) Anne-Marie

    Beautiful Gladys looks like a young Sushmita. Congratulations for making top 20 to Gladys Zender of Peru!

  • PW

    Next four!

    19. Ieda Vargas – Brazil
    18. Cecilia Bolocco – Chile
    17. Margaret Gardiner – South Africa
    16. Jannelle Commisiong – Trinidad & Tobago

  • Mr Brightside

    My top 4 girls are still on the run: Jennifer Oxana Natalie Kerry Ann..Amparo and Janelle Angela (whom I have placed originally) in the top 10 are still in the run as well

  • CESAR

    CUANDO SALEN CECILIA BOLOCO Y XIMENA NAVARRETE….ELLAS NO SON NUNCA MEJORES QUE IRENE, MARITZA, GLADYS, MARGARETA, SUSHMITA, IVONNE,SHAWN,WENDY, ARMI,SYLVIA O RINA……ELLAS SI FUERON Y SON ESPECTACULARES AUN.

    • Anaxagoras

      Oye, con mucho respeto, pero creo que el tiempo gramatical que utilizas en tus oraciones no es el correcto. Primero utilizas presente, luego utilizas un adverbio de frecuencia con una negación y finalizas con pasado. Creo que debes definir en que tiempo quieres expresar tu opinión o punto de vista.
      Y pues creo que los jueces opinaron lo contrario a tu gusto, aunque no debo decir que son mejores o más hermosas que las que son tus favoritas, simplemente las calificaron de tal forma que unas quedaron antes que otras. Toooodas son hermosas y creo que cada una tuvo ese factor que otras no tuvieron en la noche que ganaron el concurso.

      • Andrés

        No hay nada de malo con los tiempos gramaticales que utilizó el forista anterior. En ningún lado está escrito que alguien deba limitarse a utilizar exclusivamente un tiempo: de hecho, tú utilizaste dos(presente y pasado) en tu comentario, y al igual que en el otro, no hay nada de malo en ello.
        Y estoy de acuerdo que cada ganadora ha tenido algo que ha convencido al jurado de su respectivo año y eso debe ser respetado, sin embargo me parece un comentario hipócrita viniendo de ti, puesto que has criticado a todas y cada una de las venezolanas, ganadoras o no. A juzgar por tus comentarios a lo largo de este conteo, ‘los resultados deben ser respetados’ a menos, claro, que favorezcan a una venezolana.
        No exijas de los demás la imparcialidad y tolerancia que tú mismo no ofreces.

    • Miss Panocha International

      Hola comadrita te saludo a ti y a todos los seguidores de este gran certamen. Bueno yo contestaré a tu linda preguntita. ¿Cuando salen Cecilia Bolocco y Ximena Navarrete? Bueno, mira, mi casi hermana Cecilia es una persona muy ocupada y sale mucho de viaje al igual que mi intimísima amiga Jimena Chula Navarrete que ahorita anda en Brasil, las saludaré de tu parte ya que veo que estás muy al pendiente de ellas ¿Y como no estarlo? Las dos son espectaculares, inteligentes y bellas. Por cierto ya se está poniendo mas y mas interesante este jueguito, en una de esas gana Jimena, o tal vez Cecilia o la fabulosa Oxana, bueno está difícil ¿No? Pero sea la que sea le harpe una fiestecita (Bueno si gana mi Amparito hermosa le mandaré ofrecer una misa). Saludos y cariños… Sy, ya sé Cesar, no se me olvdará darle tus cariños a Cecy y Jimenita. Las quiere su amiga Miss Panocha International

  • Leo Andreatos

    Next four, in my opinion:
    19.- Ximena Navarrete
    18.- Cecilia Bolocco
    17.- Anne Marie Pohtamo
    16.- Denise Quiñones

  • Anaxagoras

    Wooow, well deserved ranking.

  • Eloy

    Thank you VERY MUCH for such GREAT Job collecting information of past editions.. I had REALLY enjoy the detalla of this edition I!!
    Gladys Zender after more than 50 years is one of the most beloved MU Latinas and icon of the pageant.
    Having 19 left the competition wil get tougher and tougher.
    I agree with Mr. Andreatos with the next girls to go. Anne Marie Pohtamo and Ximena Navarrete should had being eliminated a while ago.

    • Dolly

      Anne Marie Pohtamo is a lovely classical beauty who deserves to be in top 10 or even higher. The ones who should have gone ages ago are Margaret Gardiner and Cecilia Bolocco! And though Gladys Zender has got certain “Film Noir” appeal, she placed too high as well. There is no way she should have placed above Maritza Sayalero or certain other girls that have already gotten eliminated.

      • Neiti Hattunen

        Totally agree with you, Dolly, but I`m very much afraid that the judges find Anne tooooooo natural. As a statistic secretary it seems very strange to me that the judges give their points from 8 to 10 (not from 1 to 10!). Besides “jumalauta mitä kusipäitä” as we say in Finnish when we are referring to the pageant judges; they really know what we do not.

  • Zuleyka

    Wow, I think Gladys is much more beautiful than Bolocco or Martel.
    Next should be:

    19. Cecilia Bolocco
    18. Christiane Martel
    17. Janelle Commissiong
    16. Kerry Ann Wells
    15. Anne Marie Pothamo
    14. Jennifer Hawkins
    13. Ximena Navarrete
    12. Ieda Vargas
    11. Alicia Machado

  • WilliamNYC

    Gladys Zender is almost a perfect woman in beauty and glamour except for her name “GLADYS”. She looks more like A SOPHIA or RAQUEL. I know this is a silly comment, but it’s true.

  • BLUE SKY

    GLADYS ZENDER, UNA DAMA EN TODA LA EXTENSION DE LA PALABRA!!
    ELLA ES LA PRIMERA MISS UNIVERSO LATINOAMERICANA, ANTES QUE ELLA IMPERABA LA BELLEZA DE LAS RUBIAS ANGLO-SAJONAS, DE OJOS CLAROS Y PIEL PALIDA, SIN EMBARGO LA SRA. GLADYS ROMPIO TODOS ESOS ESQUEMAS RACISTAS, DEMOSTRANDO QUE LAS SUDAMERICANAS TAMBIEN SON HERMOSAS!!
    COMO ANECDOTA, ELLA ES LA UNICA MISS UNIVERSO ELEGIDA CON SOLAMENTE 17 A. DE EDAD. EN LONG BEACH, AL SABERSE QUE LA BELDAD PERUANA NO CONTABA CON LA MAYORIA DE EDAD ESTIPULADA, SE HIZO UNA REUNION ESPECIAL ENTRE LOS ORGANIZADORES Y MIEMBROS DEL JURADO, Y AL FINAL SE DECIDIO QUE ELLA NO SERIA DESCALIFICADA, YA QUE LE FALTABA SOLO UNOS MESES PARA CUMPLIR LA EDAD NECESARIA.
    NO TUVO LA MISMA SUERTE LA MISS ESTADOS UNIDOS, LEONA GAGE (1939 – 2010), AL DESCUBRIRSE QUE ERA UNA MUJER CASADA EN DOS OPORTUNIDADES Y ADEMAS ERA MADRE BIOLOGICA DE DOS NENES!!! UN VERDADERO ESCANDALO EN 1957 Y TAMBIEN EN LA ACTUALIDAD!!
    SU PUESTO ENTRE LAS 15 SEMIFINALISTAS FUE OCUPADO POR MISS ARGENTINA, MONICA LAMAS.
    EN LA ACTUALIDAD LA SRA. GLADYS ZENDER ES UNA FELIZ AMA DE CASA, CASADA DESDE HACE 48 A. CON ANTONIO MEIER, UN ADMINISTRADOR DE NEGOCIOS, Y ALCALDE DE SAN ISIDRO, UNO DE LOS MUNICIPIOS DE MAYOR PRESTIGIO DE LA CAPITAL PERUANA. TUVIERON CUATRO HIJOS, ENTRE ELLOS CHRISTIAN MEIER, ACTOR QUE HA ALCANZADO CIERTA NOTORIEDAD EN SUDAMERICA.

  • MARTIN

    I think she is a really beautiful, natural beauty, her elegance and poise for a seventeen year old are incomparable. They say she was much more beautiful in person,a lot of people thought she was a combination of Ava Gardner and Sophia Loren.

  • pop

    Gladys Zender, Miss Universe 1957, ranked 41st in my ranking with the score 9.155 .

  • alicia

    I think the top 5 most beautiful are Dayana Mendoza,Jennifer Hawkins,Denise Quinones,Oxana Fedorova and Ximena Navarete or Natalie Glebova

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