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.


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

MBMU Ranking – #21-60 Recap

And now only 20 exceptional women, who have their names written in pageant history as the winners of Miss Universe, continue in the competition! Before we go on, let’s recap the results up to now…

21st – Margareta Arvidsson, Sweden (1966)

22nd – Maritza Sayalero, Venezuela (1979)

23rd – Corinna Tsopei, Greece (1964)

24th – Shawn Weatherly, USA (1980)

25th – Justine Pasek, Panama (2002)

26th – Mona Grudt, Norway (1990)

27th – Martha Vasconcellos, Brazil (1967)

28th – Sushmita Sen, India (1994)

29th – Yvonne Ryding, Sweden (1984)

30th – Amelia Vega, Dominican Republic (2003)

31st – Wendy Fitzwilliam, Trinidad & Tobago (1998)

32nd – Irene Saez, Venezuela (1981)

33rd – Stefania Fernandez, Venezuela (2009)

34th – Armi Kuusela, Finland (1952)

35th – Sylvia Hitchcock, USA (1967)

36th – Luz Marina Zuluaga, Colombia (1958)

37th – Zuleika Rivera, Puerto Rico (2006)

38th – Lorraine Downes, New Zealand (1983)

39th – Rina Messinger, Israel (1976)

40th – Dayanara Torres, Puerto Rico (1993)

41st – Lupita Jones, Mexico (1991)

42nd – Akiko Kojima, Japan (1959)

43rd – Michelle McLean, Namibia (1992)

44th – Porntip Nakhirunkanok, Thailand (1988)

45th – Marisol Malaret, Puerto Rico (1970)

46th – Carol Morris, USA (1956)

47th – Margarita Moran, Philippines (1973)

48th – Karen Baldwin, Canada (1982)

49th – Hillevi Rombin, Sweden (1955)

50th – Riyo Mori, Japan (2007)

51st – Apasra Hongsakula, Thailand (1965)

52nd – Norma Nolan, Argentina (1962)

53rd – Mpule Kwelagobe, Botswana (1999)

54th – Georgina Rizk, Lebanon (1971)

55th – Gloria Diaz, Philippines (1969)

56th – Brooke Lee, USA (1997)

57th – Debora Carthy-Deu, Puerto Rico (1985)

58th – Chelsi Smith, USA (1995)

59th – Linda Bement, USA (1960)

60th – Miriam Stevenson, USA (1954)

REGIONAL RANKINGS – let’s now review the regional rankings. All continents and regions are still represented: Asia (1), Africa (1), Oceania (2), Europe (6), Caribbean (2), Central & North America (2), South America (6). This is how the regional rankings are at this point:

Africa (3 winners)

2nd – Michelle McLean, Namibia (1992)

3rd – Mpule Kwelagobe, Botswana (1999)

Asia (10 winners)

2nd – Sushmita Sen, India (1994)

3rd – Rina Messinger, Israel (1976)

4th – Akiko Kojima, Japan (1959)

5th – Porntip Nakhirunkanok, Thailand (1988)

6th – Margarita Moran, Philippines (1973)

7th – Riyo Mori, Japan (2007)

8th – Apasra Hongsakula, Thailand (1965)

9th – Georgina Rizk, Lebanon (1971)

10th – Gloria Diaz, Philippines (1969)

Caribbean (8 winners)

3rd – Amelia Vega, Dominican Republic (2003)

4th – Wendy Fitzwilliam, Trinidad & Tobago (1998)

5th – Zuleika Rivera, Puerto Rico (2006)

6th – Dayanara Torres, Puerto Rico (1993)

7th – Marisol Malaret, Puerto Rico (1970)

8th – Debora Carthy-Deu, Puerto Rico (1985)

Central & North America (12 winners)

3rd – Shawn Weatherly, USA (1980)

4th – Justine Pasek, Panama (2002)

5th – Sylvia Hitchcock, USA (1967)

6th – Lupita Jones, Mexico (1991)

7th – Carol Morris, USA (1956)

8th – Karen Baldwin, Canada (1982)

9th – Brooke Lee, USA (1997)

10th – Chelsi Smith, USA (1995)

11th – Linda Bement, USA (1960)

12th – Miriam Stevenson, USA (1954)

Europe (12 winners)

7th – Margareta Arvidsson, Sweden (1966)

8th – Corinna Tsopei, Greece (1964)

9th – Mona Grudt, Norway (1990)

10th – Yvonne Ryding, Sweden (1984)

11th – Armi Kuusela, Finland (1952)

12th – Hillevi Rombin, Sweden (1955)

Oceania (3 winners)

3rd – Lorraine Downes, New Zealand (1983)

South America (12 winners)

7th – Maritza Sayalero, Venezuela (1979)

8th – Martha Vasconcellos, Brazil (1968)

9th – Irene Saez, Venezuela (1981)

10th – Stefania Fernandez, Venezuela (2009)

11th – Luz Marina Zuluaga, Colombia (1958)

12th – Norma Nolan, Argentina (1962)


Beauties from all decades are still competing, however, the last decade, as expected, has the most: 6. The 1970’s follow close, with 5. The 1990’s seems to be the weakest Miss Universe decade in terms of winners: only one will be ranked among the Top 20. Let’s take look on those who already left the competition:


3rd – Armi Kuusela, Finland (1952)

4th – Luz Marina Zuluaga, Colombia (1958)

5th – Akiko Kojima, Japan (1959)

6th – Carol Morris, USA (1956)

7th – Hillevi Rombin, Sweden (1955)

8th – Miriam Stevenson, USA (1954)


3rd – Margareta Arvidsson, Sweden (1966)

4th – Corinna Tsopei, Greece (1964)

5th – Martha Vasconcellos, Brazil (1968)

6th – Sylvia Hitchcock, USA (1967)

7th – Apasra Hongsakula, Thailand (1965)

8th – Norma Nolan, Argentina (1962)

9th – Gloria Diaz, Philippines (1969)

10th – Linda Bement, USA (1960)


6th – Maritza Sayalero, Venezuela (1979)

7th – Rina Messinger, Israel (1976)

8th – Marisol Malaret, Puerto Rico (1970)

9th – Margarita Moran, Philippines (1973)

10th – Georgina Rizk, Lebanon (1971)


4th – Shawn Weatherly, USA (1980)

5th – Yvonne Ryding, Sweden (1984)

6th – Irene Saez, Venezuela (1981)

7th – Lorraine Downes, New Zealand (1983)

8th – Porntip Nakhirunkanok, Thailand (1988)

9th – Karen Baldwin, Canada (1982)

10th – Debora Carthy-Deu, Puerto Rico (1985)


2nd – Mona Grudt, Norway (1990)

3rd – Sushmita Sen, India (1994)

4th – Wendy Fitzwilliam, Trinidad & Tobago (1998)

5th – Dayanara Torres, Puerto Rico (1993)

6th – Lupita Jones, Mexico (1991)

7th – Michelle McLean, Namibia (1992)

8th – Mpule Kwelagobe, Botswana (1999)

9th – Brook Lee, USA (1997)

10th – Chelsi Smith, USA (1995)


7th – Justine Pasek, Panama (2002)

8th – Amelia Vega, Dominican Republic (2003)

9th – Stefania Fernandez, Venezuela (2009)

10th – Zuleika Rivera, Puerto Rico (2006)

11th – Riyo Mori, Japan (2007)



TOP 20

Twenty extraordinary women, the most beautiful among the most beautiful, still have a chance to be named the “fairest of the fair” – . Venezuela is the country with most winners still competing: 3. Australia follows with 2. Europe and South America have 6 each, but the Americas, as a whole, have 10 beauties in contention. Meet the Top 20:

1953 – Christiane Martel (France)
1957 – Gladys Zender (Peru)
1961 – Marlene Schmidt (Germany)
1963 – Ieda Maria Vargas (Brazil)
1972 – Kerry Anne Wells (Australia)
1974 – Amparo Muñoz (Spain)
1975 – Anne Marie Pohtamo (Finland)
1977 – Janelle Commissiong (Trinidad & Tobago)
1978 – Margaret Gardiner (South Africa)
1986 – Barbara Palacios Teyde (Venezuela)
1987 – Cecilia Bolocco (Chile)
1989 – Angela Visser (Netherlands)
1996 – Alicia Machado (Venezuela)
2000 – Lara Dutta (India)
2001 – Denise Quiñones (Puerto Rico)
2002 – Oxana Fedorova (Russia)
2004 – Jennifer Hawkins (Australia)
2005 – Natalie Glebova (Canada)
2008 – Dayana Mendoza (Venezuela)
2010 – Ximena Navarrete (Mexico)

Who will be the next 10 stunners to be eliminated? Stay tuned, as the Most Beautiful Miss Universe 1952-2010 election continues…


21st place – Miss Universe 1966 – Margareta Arvidsson

21st place – Margareta Arvidsson (Sweden)

(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)

Going into its 15th edition, Miss Universe came up with a few innovations in 1966, like for instance, the announcement of the “top 15″ during the final broadcast, instead of at the preliminaries night, as it had been happening since 1952. It was also the first time the show was telecast in colors for the US audience.

Misses Israel and USA

Before arriving in Miami Beach, the Latin American candidates, Miss USA, and Miss Universe 1965, Apasra Hongsakula of Thailand, attended the Miss Brazil pageant, in Rio de Janeiro. Both Apasra and Maria Judith Remenyi (Miss USA) enchanted the Brazilian crowd when they spoke to them in Portuguese.

In the 1960’s, the Miss Universe Pageant considered Miss Brazil to be the best organized and produced national pageant in the world, and the Brazilian press the one which followed Miss Universe with most attention and details. The Brazilian magazines and papers, such as Manchete and Cruzeiro, remain the main source of information and photos of Miss Universe from the early 1950’s to the 1970’s.  And the Brazilian press widely supported Miss Guanabara, Ana Cristina Ridzi, during her national pageant. She was crowned Miss Brazil 1966.

Misses Brazil and Belgium

Ana Cristina had defeated her twin sister in Miss Guanabara, and just like Miss USA 1966, her parents were from Hungary. Both immediately became good friends, and were favorites to be among Miss Universe’s Top 5 that year.

From Rio, they all traveled to New York, where they were joined by the European and Middle Eastern delegates. After attending a few activities in the Big Apple, they took a bus to Miami, stopping by in a couple of cities, like Washington D.C..

58 candidates competed for the crown. Guam was the only debut that year. Guyana participated for the first time as an independent country (before it was British Guyana) and Trinidad & Tobago had already competed as “Miss Trinidad”.

Miss Sweden: always a favorite

Since the very beginning Margareta Arvidsson of Sweden was a standout and major favorite for the crown. Not only she was very beautiful, but her wardrobe, very colorful and chic, represented the latest fashion tendencies in Europe. The other favorites were Misses Finland, Brazil, Switzerland, Israel, and Germany. Although Miss Thailand had been noticed for her beauty, few people believed in a back-to-back victory, so Miss Japan, who looked like a doll and was very fashionable, was considered the front-runner from Asia.

Miss Israel, Aviva Israeli, was described by press journalists covering the pageant as “magnetic”. She spoke 7 languages and was very elegant and charismatic. Wearing a Biblical costume, she won the Best National Costume award.

Miss Israel: Best National Costume

Miss Germany was another “press dear”. Looking like a supermodel, and with huge breast, she was appointed as a shoo-in for the final 5. Another stunner was Miss Finland,  Satu Ostring, who conquered many fans with her perfect looks and discrete profile.

During the open car parade, at Flager Street, the most applauded national representatives were Misses USA, Colombia, Free Cuba, Brazil, Israel, Sweden, and Finland.

Madeline Hartog-Bel of Peru, was the most elegant beauty among the Latin American candidates. The experience she acquired in Miss Universe, certainly helped her conquering the Miss World title, one year later, in London. Miss Colombia’s elegance and poise were also often commented by the press.

Miss Brazil’s twin sister arrived in Miami a few days before the final event. When they decided to appear wearing equal dresses, the photographers jumped on them, and in the next day they were on the cover of all local newspapers.

Miss Photogenic: Sweden!

Confirming her favoritism, Miss Sweden was chosen was Miss Photogenic.

On July 16, the Miami Beach Auditorium was crowded with thousands of people who wanted to see from a close distance the election of Miss Universe 1966. After the parade of nations, in which the contestants appeared individually, without saying a word, the Top 15 were announced, and they were:

Thailand, Holland, Peru, Denmark, U.S.A., India, Philippines, Finland, Sweden, Israel, Spain, Colombia, Norway, England and Germany.

The exclusion of Misses Brazil and Japan caused indignation and loud protests by the crowd. Misses Switzerland and Turkey were also ‘big misses’, expected to place instead of Holland, Denmark and Philippines (whose evening gown was considered the ugliest and was very criticized by the press).

The amazing beauty of Miss Finland

Miss USA, although very beautiful, did not shine in the semi-final competitions. Miss Israel was once again “very magnetic”, being one of the most applauded girls of the night. Misses Thailand and Peru showed a lot of elegance on stage, but without a doubt, the candidates from Sweden and Finland were the ones battling out for the crown.

There was a tie in the election of Miss Amity, and Misses Spain and Curaçao had to fight for the trophy!

After some delay, because there was also a tie when the Top 5 were being chosen, the finalists were announced: three beauties from Asia – Israel, Thailand, and surprising India, and two Nordic stunners, the big favorites from Sweden and Finland.

Like her predecessor, Miss Thailand, Cheranand Savetanand, had also been prepared by her country’s queen to compete in Miss Universe. And once again, Thailand did really well in the competition.

Top 5

The final results were: Miss Israel finished in 5th place; Miss India was 4th; Miss Thailand was 3rd. As expected, Finland or Sweden would walk way with the crown! Miss Finland was 2nd, and the #1 favorite for the crown, Margareta Arvidsson of Sweden, was Miss Universe 1966.

Before the final night, Miss Sweden had declared that she did not want to win, because she could not picture herself during a whole year in a jail, going everywhere accompanied by a chaperon. When she won, Margareta cried more of despair than emotion, supposedly saying that she just wanted to go home. When she

Top 3: Finland, Sweden, Thailand

sat on her throne, Miss Finland, the first runner-up, approached her and whispered on her ear: “If you don’t want it, I do. So decided it, because I came here to win”. From that moment on, the new Miss Universe decided she was going to keep the title.

Next morning, when asked about it by the press, the new Miss Universe said she could not remember anything, and that she was ready to play her role.

Her chaperone during that year, Anamaria Cumba, who wrote the book The World of Miss Universe, spoke very highly of Arvidsson, who ended up being a superb Miss Universe. After crowning her successor, she became a Ford model and was one of the world’s most requested supermodels during many years.


Special thanks to Alberto Dubal!


Miss U66 in a commercial for Royal Cola

Top 5: India (4th), Finland (2nd), Sweden (1st), Thailand (3rd), Israel (5th)


Margareta was Sweden's 2nd Miss Universe

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