Design a site like this with
Get started

Miss World 1957

By Julio Rodríguez Matute


                On March 6th, 1957, the British territory called Gold Coast achieved independence from the United Kingdom under the name of Ghana. Two days earlier, on day 4th, the first “Miss Ghana” in history, Miss Monica Amekoafia, 22, from the city of Alavanyo, was elected. As a prize she received a 12-day trip to the city of London, which she made effective in April of that year. The beauty of ebony was received in London by Miss Britain 1956, Iris Waller, who accompanied her to shopping and various tourist walks. Eric Morley had encouraged the African beauty queen and convinced her to return to London in October to participate in Miss World, where she would be the first black African candidate to participate in the seven-year history of the event. However, fate had something different for Miss Ghana. She fell madly in love with the Ghanaian diplomat Henry Kofi Marrah and married in the British capital that same year, saying goodbye to Morley’s claims.


                On Wednesday, August 28th, the “Miss Great Britain 1957” contest was held again at the Morecambe swimming stadium, with the participation of 42 contestants. The winner was Leila Williams, a 20-year-old drama student from the city of Walsall, who won the right to represent Britain in Miss World. In second place was June Dawson and in third, Morley’s favorite, Margaret Rowe, who had been Miss England and semi-finalist in the Miss Universe of 1955. Miss England 1957, Sonia Hamilton, who had gone to Miss Universe, also competed but she did not obtain an outstanding figuration in the Morecambe pageant. The new Miss Great Britain, in addition to receiving her silver rose-bowl and One Thousand Pound Sterling prize, also won a full-trip trip to Helsinki, Finland, to attend the opening of the British World Fair in September.

                After the contest, Eric Morley, who was not satisfied with the way in which this contest was being held, since it was not televised and had little support from the press, began planning to leave it and create another event that would choose his representative to Miss World.

                The British event that was still called “National Bathing Beauty Contest” had the support and association of Mecca Dancing, the Sunday Dispatch, Butlin’s, Morecambe and the Heysham Corporation, however, after Miss World, the editor of the Sunday Dispatch, Charles Eade, was promoted to the Board of Associated Newspapers and the new editor of the Sunday Dispatch decided not to continue making the photographic selection of finalists for Miss Britain. After this, Butlin´s declined to continue with the project and Morley, through Mecca Dancing, decided in the same way that they would have nothing to do with this beauty event. The continuation of this story will go in the chapter dedicated to Miss World 1958.


                In 1957, Ceylon and Honduras did not hold a local contest due to the political and social instability that those countries lived at that time. New Zealand didn’t hold a national competition and, in Norway, they had no funds to send the winner of Miss Norway to any international pageants. However, in May, in Brooklyn, New York, the Scandinavian-American Business Association elected Miss Charlotte Listou, 18, as “Miss Norway” to represent them in the parade in commemoration of the Independence of that country. Her choice reached Morley’s ears and he tried to persuade the organizers to send her to Miss World. In this case, the financial funds were approved to send the girl but she refused to participate because she was not interested in the world of beauty. Meanwhile, in Brazil no candidate was selected as there was still no interest in this world beauty event.

                On Sunday June 9th, Miss Muneko Yorifuji, 20, and 5 feet 5 inches tall, was elected as the new Japanese representative heading to Miss World in an event specially created and for the second consecutive year to select the Japanese representative for the world contest.

                On the other hand, on June 28th, the Miss Venezuela 1957 contest was held, and it was hosted by the much-remembered and tragically deceased television presenter Renny Ottolina, and local organizers decided that the new queen, Caracas-born Consuelo Leticia Nouel Gómez, a student of Law of 22 years of age and 5 feet 5 inches tall, would go to both Miss Universe and Miss World. As a curious fact and due to a heavy rain that fell on Caracas that night, the coronation that would take place in the pool of the Tamanaco Hotel, as planned, could not be held there and had to be done in a suite of the mentioned hotel.

                In the United States, the winner of the Miss USA contest, crowned on July 17th, 1957, Mary Leona Gage of the state of Maryland, was disqualified two days after her election after discovering that she had lied in her age, was 18 years old instead of 21, she had been married twice and had two children. The First Runner-up, Miss Utah, Charlotte Sheffield, was then designated as the new Miss USA and she would be the first and only Miss USA titleholder to participate in the Miss World contest in history.

                In Rimini, Italy, on Sunday, September 8th, a special event was held to select the Italian representative to Miss World. The winner was the 20-year-old Miss Anna Gorassini. Meanwhile, in France, the local organizers did not held a contest this time, but appointed Miss Claude Inés Navarro, who at the time was Miss Mediterranean, as the French representative to Miss World. Claude, of Spanish parents, had been born in Maoussa, Algeria and had been elected “Miss French Algeria” in Oran in 1957 and, before that, Miss Nautical Salon of Paris in 1956.

                In the French capital, the Miss Antilles contest was held, and it was won by Pascaline Herisson from the island of Guadalupe, but the organizers were unable to raise the necessary funds to send her to London. The same happened with Miss Switzerland, Yvonne Bridel and Miss Egypt, Zubaida Tharwat, who also failed to travel to Miss World.

                Despite these withdrawals, Morley expected the record participation of 25 countries in the Miss World edition of 1957, however, at the last minute and despite having been expected, two more candidates did not arrive in London: Miss Turkey, Leyla Sayar, 17 years old from Istanbul, Miss Cinema Star and First Runner-up of Miss Turkey 1957, later becoming a famous actress in her country, did not travel to the British capital for unknown reasons; The same happened with Miss Poland, Alicja Bobrowska, 21, of Krakow, elected on August 18th, 1957 in Warsaw and who would later represent her country for the first time in the Miss Universe of 1958.


                This 1957 edition should has been always remembered by Eric Morley as one of the most difficult in the history of Miss World. And he didn’t say it just because of the beauty of the candidates, but because of the amount of problems it brought to him. The arrival of the candidates in London was expected on Sunday, October 6th of that year and for 10 days, the representatives of the 25 confirmed countries would make numerous tourist visits and visit important personalities in the English capital city before the finals, scheduled for Monday October 14th. But the representative of Canada (Judith Eleanor Welch) 20, who had been Miss Toronto 1956, arrived on October 2nd at the London airport. Another one who arrived earlier was Miss South Africa (Adele June Kruger), who arrived on October 3rd at the London Victoria Train Station from Dusseldorf, Germany.

                That Sunday, October the 6th, representatives from ten countries arrived in the British capital: Miss Italy (Anna Gorassini), Miss France (Claude Inés Navarro), Miss Morocco (Danielle Muller), Miss Holland (Christina van der Zijp), Miss Sweden (Elenore Ulla Edin), Miss Ireland (Nessa Welsh), Miss Germany (Annemarie Karsten), Miss Israel (Sara Elimor), Miss Austria (Lilo Fischer) and Miss Greece (Naná Gasparatou).

                On the morning of Monday, October 7th, five more beauties arrived: Miss Finland (Marita Anneli Lindahl), Miss Denmark (Lilian Juul Madsen), Miss Tunisia (Jacqueline Tapia-Bayle), Miss Luxembourg (Josee Jaminet) and Miss Belgium (Jeanne Chandelle). Miss Iceland (Runa Brynjolfdóttir) could not arrive that day because her flight was canceled because of the fog.



                That Monday afternoon, the usual Bathing Suit Press Presentation was held with a cocktail at the Café de Paris, near Piccadilly Circus. Fifteen of the seventeen beauty queens attended, as the representatives of Denmark and Belgium did not show up because they fell ill with a mysterious global flu, called the Asian Flu. The local representative, Miss Great Britain (Leila Williams) also did not join the group because she was suffering from the same disease. According to press reports, the English candidate fell in bed on October 2nd. Fourteen of the Misses showed up in their bathing suits, but Miss Greece had forgotten hers in her country. Miss Luxembourg had not packed her own either but ran to buy one as soon as she arrived in the city. Delayed to the presentation for the photographers were Miss Japan (Muneko Yorifuji), who arrived in London at noon and Miss United States (Charlotte Sheffield).

                The American beauty, who left for London on Sunday night from New York on a TWA airline flight, was delayed at customs at the London airport. Charlotte Sheffield of Salt Lake City pointed a gun at a British customs official and almost frightened him speechless. It was not a real weapon, but the customs agent did not know. Upon arriving at the airport to represent the United States in the annual Miss World contest, she got off her plane with a cowboy hat and a scarlet dress. Twenty minutes later she appeared with other passengers in the customs hall. But she had already changed clothes. This time she was wearing cowboy boots and a pair of guns around her waist. “Is this your luggage?” The customs official asked. Without blinking, the 21-year-old Utah blonde drew one of her weapons. Customs officers are generally prepared for anything, except, perhaps, having guns drawn on them by pretty girls. The official staggered backward when Miss Sheffield pointed at his heart. “Really?” Said the customs man when he caught his breath and regained his composure. “Really what?” The American girl asked. “Really , is it a weapon?” said the stern-faced officer. “I must ask you to point it away.” When the girl from the American West began to put her gun back in her holster, the customs agent demanded to see it. She handed it with a big smile. “Don’t be afraid,” she said, “it’s not real.” The official examined it, shrugged and returned it to the pretty newcomer. He marked her luggage for customs clearance and waved her away.

                Once she arrived at the Café de Paris, the photo shoot in swimsuits was over, but the American candidate told reporters when asked about the issue of disqualification of the girl who had originally been elected Miss USA that “the judges should be more careful about who they pick”. Upon learning that several girls were sick with the flu, Miss United States said she was crossing her fingers so she wouldn’t get the Asian Flu. “My ancestors come from here,” continued the beautiful girl, “I think I am related in some way to the Duke of Buckingham,” she added, not knowing that the title did not exist. Charlotte had graduated in June from the University of Utah and hoped to do a master’s degree in Teaching and Acting.

                For the first time in the history of the Miss World competition, a beautiful contestant tried to hide something from the photographers. “You see,” said auburn-haired Miss Austria, 18-year-old Lilo Fischer, “I am a bricklayer.” After much persuasion, she coyly held up her hands.

                “I’m caloused” she said. “I mean the palms of my hands are”. Lilo, who was from Gratz, added that she would do her best to hide the palms of her hands from the judges who would select the new Miss World within a week. “Only an hour before I left for London,” she said, “I finished plastering a roof. ” She said she began her brick-laying career two years ago. “My parents decided to build their own home”, she explained. “My father showed me how to lay bricks. It was fascinating and I’ve kept at it. “However, other early arrivals had nothing to hide. And they proved this by wriggling into tight-fitting bathing suits on a foggy London afternoon.

                The absence of hysterics and outward signs of envy marked the first hours of the girls’ London stay. Danielle Muller, a cigar-smoking cutie from Morocco, actually had words of praise for a competitor, Claude Ines Navarro, who is Miss France. Judy Welch, the blue-eyed blonde who is Miss Canada, also stared at the sultry French girl.”Golly,” she gasped, “I’m sure she’ll walk away with it.” Miss Welch, from Toronto, had just overcome a flu attack but looked good in a green dress that covered her figure 35-22-35.

                After the Press Presentation, representatives from France, Israel, Canada and Italy emerged as favorites. This year two nations were debuting in the contest: Canada and Luxembourg.


                On Tuesday, October 8th, Morley was still terrified of the problems. In addition to Miss Belgium and Miss Denmark, Miss Tunisia also fell with the Asian Flu; Miss Iceland had not arrived; Miss Turkey and Miss Poland had canceled their participation. Miss Morocco had a sore throat; Miss Luxembourg’s bathing costume didn’t fit, and Miss Ireland was homesick. Miss Great Britain joined the group that day, she was already recovered from the flu.

              The young beauties, some sniffling, some coughing, are out to win a sports car and a cash prize the goes with the title of Miss World of 1957 to be awarded on Monday. But Nessa Walsh, 19, a bookie’s clerk from Dublin, who is Miss Ireland, just wants to go home. “I’ve been crying all day; I’m homesick, I guess,” she said. And she’s a “pioneer,” a member of a total abstinence group, so she won’t touch the drinks that are put before her here. “I don’t like alcoholic drinks,” said, “and besides I’ve signed a pledge not to drink.” During the 36 hours she’s been in London she said she has said “no” at least a dozen times to hotel, restaurant and night club waiters and waitresses who passed around drinks. “I wore a cocktail dress,” she said, “but you can be sure that’s as close as I ever came to a cocktail.” “Everyone aboard seems to think that all the Irish drink,” she said. “Well, a very great majority of Irish girls definitely do not drink.”

                Miss Ireland – vital statistics 37-24-37 – is a unique competitor. She does not want to win the world contest Oct. 14. “My mother wants me to win,” she explained, “but my boy friend doesn’t. In fact, he said he wouldn’t speak to me if I became Miss World.”. Reluctant Miss Ireland declared Tuesday she hopes to be roundly beaten in the forthcoming Miss World beauty contest. Victory, she explained, would cost her boy friend. “They did not tell me until I had won the Miss Ireland title that I would have to wear a bathing suit,” she told a reporter.“If I win the contest, my boy friend will never speak to me again. He did not like my entering in the first place. ‘It is a sin,’ he said to me. My priest did not like it either.”

                Morley discovered shortly after the real reason why Miss Ireland wanted to go home. It turns out that the girl didn’t have an appropriate wardrobe and thought her clothes looked worn out compared to the other girls. Then, Morley arranged for designer Norman Hartnell to lend her some clothes and after that, the Irish candidate was happy.

                At noon on Tuesday, Miss Venezuela (Consuelo Leticia Nouel Gómez) traveled from Maiquetía with a relative, on an Air France flight that would arrive first to Paris and from there to London, where she would arrive on the morning of Thursday October 10th, quite late. The Venezuelan was the only Latin American hopeful in the contest.


                In the morning of Wednesday, October 9th, seventeen of the candidates visited the Mayor of London Cullum Welch in the Mansion House, all dressed in their National Costumes, carrying gifts from their respective countries as an act of fraternity. The candidates from Canada, Israel and Morocco overcame a severe sore throat and attended the ceremony. Meanwhile, at the Howard Hotel, Miss Tunisia, Miss Denmark and Miss Belgium stayed in bed with flu.

                Later that same day, the candidates visited a London factory and watched the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. On Wednesday afternoon, Miss Iceland (Runa Brynjolfdóttir) finally arrived.

                The next day, Thursday, October 10th, 16 of the beauties went to a lunch in the British Parliament invited by Captain C.A.B. Wilcock. The event was attended by the representatives from Austria, Italy, France, Morocco, Israel, Ireland, Holland, Sweden, United States, Finland, Denmark, Japan, Luxembourg, Greece, South Africa and Great Britain.

                In the afternoon, 17 of the contestants attended the BBC facilities where they were interviewed. Miss Iceland joined the group.

                Miss Denmark managed to recover from the flu, but Miss Canada and Miss Germany fell in bed along with two of the three chaperones, causing the heartache of the troubled Morley. To complete his nightmare, it was now Miss Holland who wished to return home. Morley, obstinate of so much trouble, told her that she had permission to withdraw and return to Holland, but that there was a second Miss Holland who would be delighted to come to participate. It was then when the Dutchwoman left the tantrum and decided to stay in the contest.

                That day, the last two candidates joined the group of participants, totaling 23. Miss Venezuela (Consuelo Leticia Nouel Gómez) arrived and a Miss Australia (Ronnie Goodlet) showed up, she was a model living in London for the time being. Morley managed to locate her and convinced her to join his contest. Ronnie, from the city of Melbourne, had been Miss Victoria ten years earlier, in 1947. At that time she was 22 years old, so she competed in Miss World being 32 years of age!


                On Friday, October 11th, nine of the beauties were in bed and Morley’s medical bills grew every minute. The sneezing, coughing collection of international beauties – fussed over like a prize collection of ailing thoroughbreds on the eve of a big race – were bedded down in their hotel rooms at the Howard Hotel. Contest officials, deprived of more than a third of their candidates, brought in teams of doctors to help put the beauties back on their feet within the 48-hour deadline.

                The Asian Flu knocked out Miss Ireland and Miss United States with fever, chills and laryngitis, they were roommates of the already ill Miss Canada; Miss South Africa and Miss Iceland also got sick, and Miss Belgium, Miss Tunisia and Miss Germany still did not recover; to top it off, Miss Denmark got sick again. In total there were 12 young women who had to be assisted by doctors during the contest. The rest of the candidates went to rehearsals at the Lyceum Ballroom and at night, they attended a lavish dinner invited by the Duke and Duchess of Bedford.

                On Saturday the 12th, Morley decided to send the healthy girls to the Butlin´s hotel in the resort town of Margate, located in the southeast of England, to breathe fresh air and stay away from the sick. Meanwhile, Morley begged the doctors to help the sick girls recover in time for the finals. Fortunately, all cases seemed mild. An official contest spokeswoman, Rosemary Bunker, told reporters that, except for additional outbreaks, she expected the 23 candidates to be on stage for the climax of the final night. A dozen beauties attended Margate: The candidates from France, Luxembourg, Holland, Sweden, Japan, Britain, Austria, Greece, Morocco, Israel, Australia and Venezuela. The representatives of Finland and Italy preferred to stay in London along with the nine sick girls.

                Sunday was a rest day for all the candidates and on early Monday they attended a beauty salon in Kensington to prepare their hairstyles for the final big night. The night before, Miss USA was still feverish but was worried that she had a fresh perm and now her hair looked frizzy. Fortunately, all contestants recovered in time for the finals!


The 1957 Miss World Program Book

                The seventh edition of Miss World began at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, October 14th at the Lyceum Ballroom in London, an event as always organized by Mecca Dancing and sponsored by the Sunday Dispatch. The contest began with the presentation of the martial band of the British Royal Air Force, with a special overture of half an hour. Eric Morley immediately addressed the audience to talk a little about the contest. He said regarding the next Miss World, whoever won that night would be the one “who has grace, charm and behavior, who is intelligent and who has an appropriate way of speaking.” International beauty contests, according to the organizing director, “should be a useful factor for a better international understanding.” Subsequently, the audience stood up to listen to the chords of the National Anthem.

              After that, Morley invited the 23 candidates to the stage, who paraded one after the other in their steamy ball gowns and then placed themselves on the stage stairs. Next, Morley introduced the judges, eleven members this year.

Claude Berr

                They were: Photojournalist Charles Jacobs; British athlete George Derek Ibbotson; Lady Jane Vane-Tempest-Stewart – one of the Bridesmaids of Queen Elizabeth II -; British actor Laurence Harvey; English actress Margaret Leighton; the editor of the Sunday Dispatch newspaper, Charles Eade; the English actor Trevor Howard; the British Formula One race pilot Stirling Moss; Mrs. Raine McCorquodale – wife of the Earl of Dartmouth Gerald Legge -; British designer Norman Hartnell and, as always, Claude Berr of the Miss Europe Committee.

                After presenting the judges, Morley introduced the Master of Ceremonies, Paul Carpenter, who was in charge of presenting the 23 beauties in their individual parade in evening gowns and in alphabetical order. Miss Canada was introduced as “Miss Dominion of Canada” and paraded behind Miss Denmark. The candidates then lined-up along the catwalk. In the absence of the outgoing queen, the German Petra Schurmann, Morley invited an incipient actress who had been chosen as “Miss Welcome to London”, Miss June Hyde, who was called on stage and was tasked with the crowning of the new sovereign of the world beauty.

                There was a musical intermission by Oscar Rabin’s band, directed by David Ede while the aspirants switched to their swimsuits. Then, once they were ready, the 23 girls individually paraded showing their slender figures in their swimsuits before the judges. They were immediately interviewed, one by one, by the Master of Ceremonies to finally lining-up on stage. During the interview, Miss Israel confessed that what she most wanted was to join her country’s army; Miss Iceland said her favorite food was meat and her favorite drink was “whiskey.” Miss United States said “it was very nice to be important, but it was also important to be nice.” Miss Greece was sincere and said that when she finished high school, she had entered the Athens Polytechnic, but that she did poorly in her studies and that for that reason she was competing there in London. On the other hand, Miss Japan, who did not speak English, was locked to say “I am very happy …”, “very happy …” “Wait a moment” and took out a piece of paper that was stored in her chest to complete the phrase: “I am very happy to be here.” The most cheered in the interview were Miss Greece, Miss Israel and Miss Japan.

                At 9:30 of the evening, they started the live television broadcast of the last half an hour of the contest, thanks to the BBC cameras and with comments from Robin Scott.

                Due to a tie, seven girls were named instead of the usual six finalists. The lucky ones were: Miss Denmark, Miss Finland, Miss France, Miss Israel, Miss Japan, Miss South Africa and Miss Tunisia. The seven finalists posed in front of the judges to cast their final verdict, using the majority vote system.

                While the votes were tabulated, a new musical intermission by the English singer Dennis Lotis began. After this, the Master of Ceremonies then called Eric Morley on stage to announce the winners in reverse order. The result was as follows:

                In sixth place, the great favorite of many, Miss France, Claude Ines Navarro, 19, an Algerian resident at the time in Paris, who took home £ 25. Miss Japan, 21-year-old Muneko Yorifuji from Nishinomomiya City, won fifth place with £ 50 prize. The fourth position corresponded to Miss Tunisia, Jacqueline Tapia-Bayle, 17, from the Tunisian capital, with a prize of £ 60. Third place went to another of the big favorites, Miss South Africa, 19-year-old Adele June Kruger, from Sasolburg, who won £ 75 in prize money. In second place, Miss Denmark, 19-year-old Lilian Juul Madsen of Odense, who won a prize of £ 100. All the finalists received a silver trophy and a bouquet of flowers.

                Finally, there were two girls standing at the backstage. It was when the MC announced the winner and she was Miss Finland, Marita Anneli Lindahl, 18, from Helsinki. Marita, a beautiful blonde of 5 feet 7 and 3/4 inches tall, 136 pounds in weight (she was the tallest and also the “heaviest” contestant in the contest) and measures 37-22-37, received a cape, scepter and crown from “Miss Welcome to London”, June Hyde and received the silver rose-bowl from Charles Eade of the Sunday Dispatch newspaper. She also received a check for 500 pounds sterling (about 1400 US dollars of the time), a huge bouquet of flowers and a sports car valued at a thousand pounds more, courtesy of Lex Garages, which, to convince any unbeliever, was permanently stationed in stage. Apart from these awards, the organizers guaranteed that during her reign the Finnish girl would earn around $ 54,000 dollars for advertising and personal presentations. Backstage was Miss Israel, Sara Elimor, 17, from the city of Givat Rambam who then placed 7th.

                After her triumphant walk, she confessed to the media that her feet hurt, something familiar in her patients, as she was a pedicurist by profession. “The new Miss World, is a sculptural blonde who makes a living taking care of people’s feet” -was the review that the press dedicated to the triumph of the Finnish Marita Lindahl- “However this time, the slender blonde with blue eyes, had to devote special care to her own feet: while the judges admired her classic features, great figure and long legs, Marita only managed to think about the pain in her feet. “I was standing so long that they hurt me now,” she declared, after the crown was placed on her light hair.

                Thus the seventh version of the Miss World contest ended and the winner left everyone satisfied, even Eric Morley himself had been happy and commented: “Marita Lindahl has the unsettling and intriguing beauty of Greta Garbo.”

Julia Evelyn Pritchard in 1957

                At the coronation party, Eric Morley, 38, danced almost all night with Miss Morocco, but was enchanted with a beautiful 18-year-old model who attended the celebration, it was nothing less and nothing more than Julia Evelyn Pritchard , whom he met formally shortly after in a Mecca Dancing ballroom in Leeds and who years later would become his wife.

                Surprisingly, the representative of the United States, 5 feet 8 inches tall and measurements 37.5-23-37.5, failed to make the finalists, having her country managed to classify as the First Runner-up consecutively in the last three editions of the contest. She remained in London after the contest to appear at the British Motor Show that took place later that month. After that, Miss Sheffield toured Europe before returning to modeling and television contracts in the United States. Charlotte married Richard Maxfield and had 8 children, four boys and four girls. She was a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for ten years and performed in many plays and films. Her most recent film was released in 2011 called “Stand Strong”. She died of a kind of pneumonia on April 15th, 2016 in Salt Lake City at 79 years of age.

                The brand new Miss World had a photo session the next day on the embankment of the Thames, where she received a bouquet of orchids from an admirer. On Wednesday, October 16th, she and her finalists (France, Denmark, South Africa, Japan and Tunisia) traveled to Paris to fulfill some pageant’s commitments. One of the finalists, Miss Israel, did not travel to the French capital and was replaced instead by Miss Canada, who had reached the eighth position in the contest. In Venezuela, some media outlets had assured that Miss Venezuela, Consuelo Nouel, had not been able to participate in Miss World because she had also gotten sick with the Asian Flu, but it was an excuse invented by some journalists to hide her defeat. Consuelo also passed away, she left this world on February 23rd, 2018.

                The following year, in May 1958, the new Miss World, accompanied by the girls from France, Denmark and Sweden, toured South America, courtesy of the Pan Air airline of Brazil. They participated in an exquisite fashion show in Porto Alegre and toured several cities of the South American giant. Later they landed in Caracas, Venezuela, where they got on the cable car, visited the newly opened Humboldt Hotel on the summits of the Ávila mountain that borders the Venezuelan capital and made numerous fashion shows. From Venezuela they flew to Bogotá, Colombia, in the month of June, where they were received by Luz Marina Zuluaga, who was about to participate in Miss Universe. The beauties were there on the occasion of a world parade as part of the “World Fashion Festival” organized by Max Factor Hollywood. They also did a fashion show in the Colombian capital on Tuesday, June 10th, according to the press of that country. From Colombia they traveled to Lima, Peru and from there again to Brazil to finish the South American tour.


                Marita Anneli Lindahl was born in Helsinki on October 17th, 1938. At the end of January 1957 she was crowned as Miss Suomi (Finland). She worked as a pedicurist in a beauty salon. Before being elected Miss World, she participated in Miss Europe on June 26th of that same year in Kurhaus, Baden-Baden, qualifying there as First Runner-up. After winning the Miss World title, she made a brief career as a professional model, toured the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and numerous countries in Central and South America, as well as the United States and Canada. She did not travel to London to crown her successor. She was invited to make films by Federico Fellini and Luchino Visconti but rejected the offer to pursue her career and returned to practice as a pedicurist.

                In the mid-sixties she was engaged to a wealthy Finnish businessman, who became blind months before marrying her. Marita rejected numerous job offers to devote herself full-time to her boyfriend, she was driving his car, reading him his newspapers and books and caring him in every sense of the word. However, the gentleman died and they did not get married. In 1967 she opened a health clinic in her hometown and that same year she met who her future husband would truly be.

                In 1970 she married Martti Kirsitie, a radio journalist and Director of several advertising agencies, five years younger than her and with whom she was united for the rest of her life. Soon she had a son named Martti. In 1972 she became a successful businesswoman, and with her husband she owned one of Fredrikinkatu’s most popular restaurants called Anglaterre, which they sold in 1976.

Later, at the beginning of the 80s she moved with her family to Kensington, London because of her husband’s work, returning in 1984 to Helsinki. In 1991 they moved back to England, this time to the city of Oxford, where they lived until 2008. They returned to live in Finland where Marita died on March 21st, 2017 at 78 years of age, due to an stroke while taking a shower. “Nothing changed for me when I won Miss World and that was the way I wanted it”, she said years after being crowned the most beautiful woman on the planet.


Thanks to Donald West, Daryl Schabinger, Tony Hidalgo, William Prendiz de Jurado


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: