8th place – Marlene Schmidt, Germany
(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)
Miss Universe 1961, the 10th Miss Universe pageant, took place on 15 July 1961 at the Miami Beach Auditorium in Miami Beach, Florida, USA. It was hosted by Johnny Carson and 48 countries competed. It was the first time that Ireland, Jamaica, Scotland, Madagascar, US Virgin Islands, Rhodesia, and Taiwan (Republic of China) participated in the pageant.
Although once again Miss International (created to substitute Miss Universe in Long Beach) had more participant countries and a higher level of beauty, Miss Universe started getting more media attention, especially in Latin America. The 1961 group, however, was indeed a weak one, with very few standouts, more specifically Misses Germany, Marlene Schmidt, and Wales, Rosemarie Franklin.
The pageant had many problems related to logistics and organization. The Flager Street parade was a failure for the 2nd consecutive year, with little attendance.
Miss Germany, the tallest woman in the competition (1.73 m-tall), had an interesting life history: born in Breslau, East Germany, her father died during World War II. Along with her mother and sister, she managed to cross the frontier to West Germany, to reside in Stuttgart. Not only she was stunning, Marlene was also very clever, and had a diploma in Electric Engneering. In times of Cold War, her story immediately sold and made headlines around the globe.
Another stunner was Miss Wales, Rosemarie Franklin, who arrived in Miami Beach with a respectable pageant curriculum, having won the titles Queen of South Port Festival, Miss Morecambe, Miss Lakeland, Queen of Misty and Miss Wales. Later that year, she would become Miss United Kingdom and Miss World 1961 (Rosemarie died in the year 2000, in the United States).
Misses France, Israel, Switzerland, Japan, England and Scotland were also often mentioned in the press. From the Americas, the front-runner was Miss Argentina. Miss Chile was noted by her class and elegance. Speaking fluent French, she served as an interpreter for the French-speaking candidates.
Miss Greece, Eleftheria Deloutsi, was voted ‘Miss Unity’ by her fellow contestants. She was also nicknamed ‘Miss Pass out’ by the press: she fainted over 5 times during special presentations under the sun of Miami.
Sharon Renee Brown of Louisiana was crowned Miss USA and won the title Miss Photogenic.
People complained about the high prices of tickets to watch the show which ranged from… USD 1 to USD 4!!
When the 15 semi-finalists were called, only 13 names were announced at first: Argentina, Chile, England, France, Germany, Iceland, Israel, Korea, Rep. of China, Scotland, Switzerland, USA, Wales. Then it was explained that Misses Brazil, Peru, and Sweden, had tied in 14th place, and that only 2 of them would advanced.
The three paraded for the judges again, and they chose Misses Peru and Sweden to remain in the competition. Stael Abelha was the first Brazilian woman to miss the cut in Miss Universe since her country started participating in the pageant, back in 1954.
Miss Greece, who did not make it, of course, passed out!
The journalists covering the pageant reported that Misses Korea, Sweden and Iceland, should never have been chosen. Instead, they expected Finland, Uruguay and Italy among the semi-finalists.
Miss USA, Sharon Brown, was 5th; Miss England, Arlette Dobson, was 4th; Miss Argentina, Adriana Gardiazábal, was 3rd; Rosemarie Frankland of Wales was 2nd; and Miss Universe 1961 was the beautiful representative of West Germany, Marlene Schmidt. She remains the only woman from Germany to have won the Miss Universe title.
In 1962 Marlene Schmidt became the third of by now eight wives of the American TV actor Ty Hardin, who was famous for the title role in the western-series Bronco. They settled in the USA. The marriage, that lasted until 1966, produced one daughter, who remained Schmidt’s only child, but who has nine half-siblings on her father’s side.
Later, notably between 1972 and 1986, Marlene Schmidt became involved in the movie industry, where she acquired credits as actress, producer and writer in altogether eleven productions. She currently lives in Saarbrücken.
MISS UNIVERSE 1961, MARLENE SHMIDT
MOST BEAUTIFUL MISS UNIVERSE FROM THE 1960’S
(Still competing: 1953, 1978, 1989, 2000, 2002-Oxana, 2004, 2008)