By Julio Rodríguez Matute
LATIN AMERICAN PREAMBLE .-
After Venezuela’s Susana Duijm won as Miss World, the Miss Venezuela contest took on much greater importance and achieved a greater number of sponsors, so the prizes that the new national beauty queen would receive were considered among the best in the history of the contest. In addition, for the first time two Miss Venezuela would be chosen in the same event. On June 30th, 1956, at the facilities of the Tamanaco Hotel in Caracas, this contest was held with a total of 16 participants, where Blanca Heredia Osío was elected as the Miss Venezuela titleholder heading to Miss Universe and Celsa de Jesús Piery * for Miss World. (* Her last name PIERI appears as Piery in the Venezuelan national identification registry).
Eric Morley was hopeful that the victory of a Latina in Miss World would make more countries in the region to be interested in taking part in his contest, however, it was not. Although the triumph of the Venezuelan girl the year before was widely publicized in the different countries of Central and South America, that was not enough to move the interest of other Latin American nations in joining the Morley contest. Perhaps it was for an economic issue or, perhaps, because they would think that another Latina could not win this contest consecutively.
While in Long Beach for the Miss Universe 1956, Morley issued new invitations, this time, to two of the candidates who managed to enter the group of semifinalists of that event, the representatives of Peru and Cuba. Peru had been invited for the first time to compete in Miss World, but for unknown reasons, its current Miss, Rosa Dolores “Lolita” Sabogal Morzan, did not compete, while Cuba would be represented by her 1956 queen, Marcia Rodríguez Echevarría. Another invited Latin American country was Brazil, which would be represented by the second runner-up of the Miss Brazil contest of that year, Leda Brandão Rau, but none of these were materialized, it is speculated it was for economic reasons. On the other hand, the contest of Miss Honduras was canceled in 1956 so they did not attend either Miss Universe nor Miss World due to the political turbulence by the dictatorship of President Julio Lozano Díaz, who by the way had suffered a military uprising in those days.
THIRTY NATIONS INVITED.-
In addition to Honduras, other countries canceled their national beauty pageants in 1956, as was the case of Norway and Monte Carlo (Monaco) due to the lack of interest of young women to present themselves. Ceylon was also unable to hold its traditional contest due to the violent riots that occurred in June of that year between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil ethnic minority. However, Morley had made invitations to 30 other countries and that at first, they had given their approval, including four from Latin America (Brazil, Cuba, Peru and Venezuela). These thirty nations would participate in the sixth edition of Miss World, which would be held again in London in October of 1956. Morley wanted, in this way, to match the Miss Universe, which had received delegates from the same number of countries in its edition of that year.
But not everyone would arrive to the contest. In addition to the withdrawal from Brazil, Cuba and Peru, the first beauty queen chosen in the African country of Ivory Coast, Marthe Niankoury, did not travel to the contest due to visa problems. Canada had also been invited for the first time and they would send their Miss Canada 1956, Dorothy Germaine Moreau to the London event, but there was no way to get the financial resources to send her to Miss World. The Canadian beauty participated in the Miss America 1957 held in September of 1956 in Atlantic City, managing to be among the 10 semifinalists.
On the other hand, Australia received a new invitation to compete in Miss World. Morley wanted to have Miss Australia 1955, Maureen Kistle, elected in November of that year, since the prize of the Australian beauty queen was a trip to London. However, Maureen decided to advance her trip to the British capital in December, so she no longer had the financial support to return in October just before delivering her national crown. Morley, very distressed, sent a letter to an important Australian newspaper to help him finding a new representative. Morley’s plea was published in an ad that looked for some Australian beauty queen who had plans to travel to London in the period between October 7th and 16th, but none appeared.
In 1956, Morley traveled again with his Miss England winner to the Miss Universe contest in Long Beach, where she was able to qualify as Third Runner-up thanks to the advice of the English organizer. Morley was so delighted with the good figuration of his English candidate that he urged her to compete at the “National Bathing Beauty Contest” where Miss Britain would be chosen for Miss World. On Wednesday, August 29th, the Miss Great Britain contest was held, as usual, at the Morecambe Swimming Stadium, with the participation of 43 finalists from all over the United Kingdom and, without surprises, Morley’s pupil was chosen, the 31st candidate, Miss Iris Alice Kathleen Waller, 21, of Gateshead, who, as I previously mentioned, had been Miss England for Miss Universe that same year.
Morley was happy that an exclusive contest for Miss World in Japan was organized. The contest was held on September 9th in Tokyo, and the winner was the 20-year-old model Midoriko Tokura. Runner-ups were Masako Shinoyama and Tokue Nakano, both of 19. A total of 1500 young women pre-registered for this event.
In South Africa, the newspaper “Die Landstem” took the rights of Miss World and for the first time they held a Miss South Africa contest. However, there was no event as such. The young ladies interested in participating sent their own pictures to the newspaper and the finalists were chosen. Once the finalists were selected, the winner was chosen by popular vote. The lucky one was Norma Vorster, 19, of Durban. On the other hand, in Germany the local organizers decided not to send their winner to Miss World, but to the second runner-up (Petra Schurmann) because she handled English better.
FAVORITES APPEAR ON THEIR ARRIVAL IN LONDON .-
As mentioned earlier, the sixth edition of Miss World would take place from October 7th to 16th, 1956. At the beginning of October, the official closing of the registrations was made and of the 30 originally invited countries, only 24 of them reconfirmed. The candidates had to send by mail and beforehand photographs of them in full body swimsuits, which would be published in the official program book of the contest.
This year, another of the girls was ahead of the arrival date imposed by Morley. Miss South Africa, Norma Vorster, arrived at the port of Southampton aboard the “Capetown Castle” cruise on Friday, October 5th, being the first of the candidates to arrive in English lands.
The second candidate to arrive this year was Miss United States, Betty Lane Cherry, 20, current “Maid of Cotton” and First Runner-up of the 1956 Miss USA pageant. She arrived at the London airport on Sunday, October 7th accompanied by her chaperone, Mrs. Elver Dudley of Long Beach. With measurements 36-24-36, Miss United States declared, “I just have not thought about my chances of winning the title. Right now I’m anxious to meet all the other girls. My chaperone and I plan to visit Paris after the contest and hope to see as many places as we can before returning home”. Miss Cherry also said she had brought two suitcases full of clothes, cocktail dresses, gowns and swimsuits. She also added she wanted to become a social worker after completing her university studies at the “Columbia College for Women”.
On Sunday, October 7th, most of the participants arrived, 19 of them. At the Howard hotel in Strand, London, their official chaperones, Mrs. Esme Kingsmill and Patricia Scott and some reporters from the sponsoring newspaper, the Sunday Dispatch, were waiting for them.
Elaborate precautions went into force that day to protect luscious beauty queens from the ever-present wolf as they arrived to compete for the title Miss World. Things were so tight that elaborate precautions were taken to see that only press-car carrying news and cameramen get within winking of the lovelies. Organizers said they had to be “ruthless” because things got a bit out of hand last year.
Organizers of the contest have so far arranged for the girls a sightseeing schedule usually reserved for visiting mayors.“Wherever they go, I go with them,” said Eric Morley firmly. “And with us also go two chaperons. My job is to brush off a lot of people who try to tag along”. He added: “The girls are all staying at the same hotel. They will go to their appointments in a group. Sometimes they get lost. It is my job to keep them from getting lost”. “If they have a date, it can be only with people we know and have approved. But we don’t tell them they must be back in the hotel by a certain time each evening. Frankly, we’ve arranged so many evenings for them that they will be jolly glad to get some sleep”.
But Eric Morley ran into trouble that Sunday (Oct. 7th) with the Suez Canal crisis. He said it has complicated the usually pleasant job of pairing off roommates among some of the world’s most beautiful girls. “You think the politicians have got trouble,” said Eric Morley. “They should hear from me.” Morley said that in past contests his main trouble has been languages – trying to sort out the Miss World contestants so they will understand each other during the 10 days they are in London. “But now,” he sighed as he looked over a hotel lobby full of shapely contestants from Tokyo to South Carolina, “the trouble is politics.” He explained that the organization always try to room the girls in Paris to keep them from getting lonely. “Now I sort them out so they can understand one another and then I discover that their politics clash,” he said. “If it isn’t the canal, it’s Cyprus or the Gaza Strip.” While he was talking Miss Egypt, Norma Dugo, a 17-year-old beauty with smoldering eyes and a 35-inch bust, stalked up and down the lobby.“Obviously I can’t put Miss Egypt with Iris Waller, although they both speak English,” Morley said. “Miss Waller is Miss Great Britain, you see. And I can’t put her with Rina Weiss, who’s Miss Israel.” He said Miss Greece and Miss Turkey both speak French, but as roommates the idea was out. “They’d got to talking about Cyprus and the Greek majority and the Turkish minority,” he explained.
Betty Lane Cherry, the blonde Miss United States, was upstairs sleeping. “She’s a little tired,” said Morley, “but she’s no problem. You can room Americans with anybody. I think I’ll put her with Miss South Africa.” Interviewed on the same topic, Miss Great Britain, Iris Waller, said she had no problem sharing the room with Miss Egypt, seeking to deny rumors that she did not want her to “roommate.” “The girls say beauty comes before politics – they don’t care if the Suez Canal dries up,” said Eric Morley, organizer of the annual competition. “It makes no difference to me about the canal. I think Miss Egypt is lovely. Of course we’ll share a room.” said Miss Great Britain, a brunette with spectacular measurements of 36-23-36.
On the afternoon of Monday, October 8th, as usual, a lunch was held in honor of the press and the first official presentation of the media candidates at the Café de París and where the beauties wore their slender figures in Swimwear. Present were MISS AUSTRIA (Margaret Scherz), MISS BELGIUM (Madeleine Hotelet), MISS DENMARK (Anne Rye Nielsen), MISS EGYPT (Norma Dugo), MISS FINLAND (Sirpa Helena Koivu), MISS FRANCE (Genevieve Solare Cuzin), MISS GERMANY ( Hildegard Petra Susanna Schürmann), MISS GREAT BRITAIN (Iris Alice Kathleen Waller), MISS GREECE (Maria Paraloglou), MISS ICELAND (Agusta Gudmundsdóttir), MISS IRELAND (Amy Kelly), MISS ISRAEL (Rina Weiss), MISS JAPAN (Midoriko Tokura) , MISS SOUTH AFRICA (Norma Vorster), MISS SWEDEN (Eva Bränn), MISS SWITZERLAND (Yolande Daetwyler), MISS TUNISIA (Pascaline Agnes), MISS TURKEY (Suna Özekin) and MISS UNITED STATES (Betty Lane Cherry).
Despite having arrived in London the day before, MISS ITALY (Angela Portaluri) did not attend this presentation to the media because she felt unwell for health. During this meeting with the press, Miss Iceland felt bad and fainted, being quickly attended by Morley and her fellow contestant from Ireland. The Nordic beauty managed to recover within a few minutes. Morley said the Icelandic candidate “was suffering from nerves. The excitement had been a lot for her.” Another candidate who also felt bad was the hostess, Miss Great Britain, who felt stomach cramps. But she wasn’t going to let that spoil her chances. “I feel very fit and I hope to receive at least 25 minutes of warning if I need to go to the hospital.”
After this encounter with the media, they emerged, as expected, favorites to the crown. Immediately, the representative of Japan led the list of favorites of the press, as she arrived at the Paris Café dressed in a red kimono infecting everyone with her smile and that had pleased the journalists. Others that were mentioned as favorites were the candidates from the United States and Germany, but also although little less, the representatives of Israel and Austria.
At the end of the afternoon of that same Monday, MISS VENEZUELA (Celsa de Jesús Piery) arrived at the London airport along with MISS WORLD 1955, Carmen Susana Duijm Zubillaga. Air France’s flight was delayed and both arrived in the British capital when the press presentation was being held, so they were absent.
Finally, on Tuesday, October 9th, the last candidates arrived to complete the group of 24 participants: MISS NETHERLANDS (Ansje Johanna van Pothoven) and MISS MOROCCO (Lydia Marin). They would be joined by MISS NEW ZEALAND (Jeannette de Montalk) who had arrived in London before, because she got a prize that included a trip to the British capital for being the New Zealand beauty queen.
This year five countries were debuting in the contest: Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, South Africa and Tunisia.
WITHDRAWAL ATTEMPT .-
Honey-blonde Miss New Zealand, Jeanette De Montalk, 20, of Whangarei, vanished from her hotel in London just on the day of the Press Presentation. However, two days later, a journalist found her staying at the YWCA hostel in the city of Birmingham. When asked by the reporter, the reluctant beauty said that she had fled from London because shyness had overcome her and that she had withdrawn from the Miss World contest because she couldn’t face parading in a bathing suit. “Furthermore I do not own the sort of clothes to compete with some of the girls”. “I’m finished with it,” announced the green-eyed young lady. “I do not want to parade in a bathing costume before hundreds of people.” “Besides, I don’t have enough clothes to compete with those girls.” “My wardrobe is only a normal one bought by my family and friends who rallied around at home. Some of the girls have Dior gowns.”
Miss De Montalk said the contest that won her the title of Miss New Zealand and the trip to London wasn’t a beauty contest, anyway. The contest sponsored by a leading New Zealand raincoat manufacturing firm, informed the contest judges in London that she would rather give up her crown than display herself in a bathing suit.”. “It was decided,” she said, “on charm, personality, intelligence and other things rather than mere appearance.” “After I arrived in England I was warned it would not be very nice in a beauty competition rat race – or perhaps it should be cat race – and I just do not want to take part.”
However, perhaps convinced by Morley, Miss New Zealand reintegrated into the contest on Friday, October 12th. The beauty said she had decided to compete in the Miss World contest after all, even if that meant having to parade in a swimsuit.
GOSSIPS FROM THE PREVIOUS ACTIVITIES .-
The following days were full of commitments for the hopefuls of Miss World 1956. Besides meeting the press and making conversation in various versions of English, the girls had lunch on Tuesday October 9th at the House of Commons with some members of Parliament.
This event was also attended by members of the press. Middle East politics marred the harmony of beauty in the already troubled Miss World contest, a London columnist reported. Daily Sketch columnist Simon Ward wrote that Miss Egypt, 17–year-old Norma Dugo, refused to sign a “peace” note from Miss Israel, exotic Rina Weiss.
He said Rina passed a note to Norma at a press luncheon which said, “Long live peace between our nations.” The Alexandrian beauty read the note, Ward said, and she said, “Non, non, non, I will not endorse it.” Miss World contest organizer Eric Morley told the meeting that the aim of the contest was to promote international friendship. He said to prove it Miss Egypt and Miss England were sharing a room. “No, we’re not,” Miss Egypt corrected. “I’m sharing with Miss Turkey.”
Miss Denmark, Anne Rye Nielsen, captured the eyes of diners by the huge Havana cigars she smoked, one after another. Earlier that day, participants had visited Buckingham Palace during the first tour of the city of London.
Later, the beauties attended a reception in National Costumes on Wednesday morning, October 10th, with the Mayor of London, Lord Cuthbert Lowell Ackroyd. The girls arrived at the Mansion House aboard a bus carrying signs from the participating countries right where they were sitting.
During the visit to the Mayor of London, another of the contestants felt bad and had to sit in the politician’s office throughout the ceremony. It was Miss Greece, Maria Paraloglou. The beautiful young ladies from all over the world brought presents from their countries to the Mayor as a symbol of international friendship.
The conversation of Betty Lane Cherry, Miss United States with the Mayor’s wife, Joyce Wallace Whyte-Ackroyd, was so enjoyable that she invited her and her chaperone to go for tea in the afternoon. However, the American beauty could not reach the important appointment. In the afternoon, after the meeting with the Mayor, she and the rest of her fellow contestants had gone to meet the Hampton Court, one of the palaces of Henry VII and they were late. That night, moreover, they had the commitment to attend the theater. They went to the premiere of the movie “Guys and Dolls at the Empire” at Leicester Square, invited by the Metro Golden Mayer.
On Thursday, October 11th, the contestants visited other places of tourist interest, including a couple of historic London taverns and on Friday the 12th they were invited to the BBC headquarters, a TV channel that for the first time would broadcast live on local television, the incidents of the final Miss World night.
Miss United States was interviewed by Nick Barber, who had done a survey among the candidates and the majority favored the American as the favorite to win the title. When asked about who she would choose, she stated that she thought that all the other Miss World contestants were “simply beautiful.” But that she could not name the winner. “I’ve changed my mind about it five times. Now I couldn’t choose the winner if I had to.” When asked if there had been tantrums in the contest, Miss Cherry replied: “Oh, no, they are all very nice girls.”
The most photographed contestant during all pre-contest activities was Miss South Africa. She rose in the favoritism of the press to become the possible successor of Susana Duijm. On Saturday, October 13th, the hopefuls visited the Lyceum Ballroom in London for the first time and spent the day rehearsing for the final night.
TRIED TO BRIBE HIM.-
While the candidates were walking through the city, two gentlemen from a small European country approached the offices of Morley and said they wanted their candidate to win not only for prestige but also to increase trade in their country. They asked Morley to train the candidate privately and advise her so she could win, and if she won, then they would pay Morley £ 1000 for his services. Morley replied that the contestant would receive the same training as the other girls in rehearsals and that if she won, he would be very grateful if they delivered those £ 1000 to charities. The men were speechless and since then Morley never heard from them again …
A SUNDAY OF HAIRDRESSING .-
Twenty-four shapely girls spent most of their Sunday dressing up their hair for the moment Monday when they take off most of their clothes to see who’s going to be Miss World of 1956. “Don’t get the idea that this contest is all undress,” said Eric Morley, one of the organizers of the annual competition. “The girls will be judged on how they look in evening dresses as well as how they shape up in bathing suits.” In either case, the way their hair looks is important, he explained. “All I want to do is get married and have a happy home with children,” said Madeleine Hotelet, Miss Belgium, “but nice men are frightened of beautiful women.” Said Petra Schurman, Miss Germany, as she sat beneath a hair dryer, “Any beauty contest usually has an opportunity to take a fling with rich wolves – but they don’t always have marriage on their minds.” Betty Lane Cherry, Miss United States, said between lazy yawns, “Marriage? Oh, that’ll take care of itself in time, honey. Me pretty? Let’s see what they say tomorrow night.”
On the night of that Sunday, October 14th, the beauty queens attended a party in their honor at the exclusive Stark Club in London.
At 7:55 p.m. on Monday, October 15th, the sixth edition of the Miss World contest started at the Lyceum Ballroom in London with a full total. The event was organized, as always, by Mecca Dancing and sponsored by the Sunday Dispatch newspaper. The opening of the contest was in charge of the city’s female Firefighters band. Then, Eric Morley addressed the audience to give a few brief words and then introduce the Master of Ceremonies of the night, the American actor Ben Lyon and the BBC commentator Alex Mackintosh.
Then, they introduced the panel of judges that was made up of 9 personalities:
Val Parnell, Actor, Managing Director and Presenter of British TV; Lady Anne Clarissa Eden, Countess of Avon and wife of Anthony Eden, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Stirling Moss, British Formula One racing driver; the renowned Swedish actress Anita Ekberg; Charles Eade, Director of the Sunday Dispatch newspaper; Anthony Steele, English actor and singer; Lydia Lyle Russell, Duchess of Bedford; Claude Berr of the Miss Europe Committee and Charles Creed, British Fashion Designer.
The MC invited the 24 participants to the stage, dressed in their evening gowns, parading all together before finishing later on the stairs of the stage, ready to listen to the chords of the National Anthem. Subsequently, the candidates were introduced individually in their evening gowns, in strict alphabetical order, then placed along the stage for the closing of the parade. After a musical intermission by the invited orchestra, the contestants appeared in swimsuits wearing sashes that identified them. The only one who left without a sash was Miss Japan, because, curiously, hers disappeared from dressing rooms …
Once again, the girls wore capes and a model dressed as a military stripped them in front of the judges. After parading, they sat wearing their capes on the stage stairs to watch the parade of the rest of the contestants. After the individual parade in swimsuits, the ladies were interviewed on stage by the Master of Ceremonies while the judges deliberated for the selection of the six finalists and, at 9:30 p.m. the television broadcast of the last half and hour of the contest began live thanks to BBC, showing the contestants on stage wearing their bathing suits.
Then the six finalists were called on stage in alphabetical order: Miss DENMARK, Miss GERMANY, Miss ISRAEL, Miss JAPAN, Miss SWEDEN and Miss UNITED STATES. The finalists were behind the scenes and went on stage when they were announced but when they called the last of them, Miss United States, a production assistant was wrong, placing the Miss World sash on her, with which she went on stage. The BBC commentator, Alex Mackintosh realized the matter by announcing to the public that Miss United States had apparently won . Quickly, Eric Morley took the winning sash from the American girl, because the judges had not yet made the final decision.
British singer Joan Regan entertained the audience in a musical intermission while the judges placed the final position for each of the six finalists, once again, using the Majority Vote system. The verdict resulted in the following order: In sixth position, MISS SWEDEN, Eva Bränn a 20-year-old stenographer from the city of Timra, earning £ 25. In fifth place, another Scandinavian, MISS DENMARK, 19-year-old Anne Rye Nielsen, a native of Frederiksberg, who won a £ 50 prize. The fourth place corresponded to one of the big favorites, MISS JAPAN, the professional model Midoriko Tokura of 20 years, from Tokyo, who took £ 60. As winner of £ 75 and the third place was MISS ISRAEL, Rina Weiss, a 19-year-old soldier from Tel Aviv. The second place, and for the third consecutive year, went to MISS UNITED STATES, Betty Lane Cherry, a blonde from Orangeburg, South Carolina, 20, another favorite, who took home a prize of £ 100. When asked by the media, the American said “I never thought I would win, so it was not a disappointment.” All the finalists received flowers and a small trophy.
Finally, MISS WORLD 1956, turned out to be MISS GERMANY, Hildegard Petra Susanna Schürmann, a model and student of the University of Cologne, 23 years of age, green eyes, 5 feet 7 and a half inches tall, 110 pounds in weight and measurements 36-20-33 , becoming the first German and the oldest girl, until that time, to win the coveted beauty title. Petra, as she preferred to be called, received the crown from the outgoing queen, Venezuelan Susana Duijm, who was the first Miss World in history to crown her successor. At the time of her coronation, the diadem slipped and fell, but Susana managed to catch it and place it again on the head of the new queen. As prizes, the brand new Miss World won a check for 500 pounds sterling, a RT-3 convertible sports car, courtesy of Lex Garage Ltd, a silver cup courtesy of Sunday Dispatch and a huge bouquet of flowers, as well as a trip with all expenses paid to Paris. At the time of posing in the convertible car that she won, invited by Trevor Chinn of Lex Garages, the crown slipped back from her head but Eric Morley managed to catch it just in time before it brokes in a thousand pieces on the ground.
After her triumph, the new Miss World confessed that she was blonde but had darkened her hair to participate in the contest. She dreamed of being a Philosopher and Professor of Geography, as well as a great and renowned film actress. “I owe my triumph to Teddy,” said the brand new queen, pointing to the teddy bear that accompanied her everywhere. Regarding what happened to Miss United States wearing the Miss World sash, “It was a mistake”, said Eric Morley, the harassed director of the contest. “I told the backstage attendant to put the sash on the last girl out: Miss Germany. But he chose his own winner before the judges had given their verdict.”
Miss France, Genevieve Solare Cuzin, was the only candidate who made tantrums after the election and said she would never enter a beauty contest again. “After seeing the faces of the six finalists, I … just didn’t care anymore,” said the Frenchwoman, who did not achieve anything in this competition.
The car was officially given to the new Miss World the next day at an event held at the Lex Garages facilities, located on Lexington Street in Piccadilly. Schurmann said she would sell the car or look for a handsome, intelligent and gentlemanly man to share it with him. Later, Petra flew to Paris on October 17th along with the finalists from the United States and Japan to fulfill some of the contest’s commitments and on October 20th she arrived at Dusseldorf airport and back to her beloved Germany. Meanwhile, Miss Israel stayed another month in London enjoying a long vacation before returning to the military service of her country.
Hildegard Petra Susanna Schürmann was born in Mönchengladbach on September 15th, 1933. She was the youngest of three brothers, and grew up in Wuppertal. In 1953, at age 20, she moved to Wipperfürth, near Bonn, where she studied Art History. She was studying Philosophy at the University of Cologne at the time of winning the contest. Later she became a Top Model and a recognized actress. At the beginning of the 60s, she started working in the German radio and television network Bayerischer Rundfunk, later standing out as a television presenter in Munich.
From then on she was the host of several programs of the ARD and ZDF networks, such as Saturday Club. She was editor in chief of Münchner Merkur magazine. She worked as a film and television actress in numerous films and series between 1960 and 1996. Her first movie “Mit Himbeergeist geht alles besser” was filmed in the year of 1960. She graduated in Philosophy in 1966 and came to write several books on that subject .
She became engaged in 1964 at 31 years of age but did not marry until 1973 with Dr. Gerhard Freud, a doctor who was married at the time to the German actress Marianne Koch, with whom she had a daughter named Alexandra in 1967. In 1979 she returned to London as a judge in the Miss World contest of that year.
Her daughter died in a car accident in 2001 at 34 years of age and Petra could never recover from the loss, falling into a deep depression. After the death of her daughter, Petra published a book, “Und eine Nacht vergeht wie ein Jahr”, and sometimes participated in television debates, but practically retired from public life. She was widowed in 2008 after 35 years of marriage. Subsequently, she had a relationship with businessman Felix Raslag, who was 35 years younger than her, but due to her depression, she completely lost her speech.
During her last years of life, she lived on a ranch of her property located on the shores of Lake Starnberg, near the Bavarian Alps, where she died on the afternoon of Thursday, January 14th, 2010 at age 76, due to pneumonia. She was buried in the Starfberg Aufkirchen Cemetery.
Thanks to Donald West, Daryl Schabinger and Mills Aldorino