Cover of Miss International 1960 Program Book

ANOTHER CROWN IN THE COSMOS

MISS INTERNATIONAL 1960

PART TWO


Round Three - August 11, 1960

On the final night of preliminary judging, Miss Greece through Miss Paraguay competed in evening gown; Miss Peru through Miss Venezuela competed in playsuit; and Miss Argentina through Miss Germany competed in national costume and speech. The divisional winners? Miss Norway, Lise Hammer, recovering from an infected foot, won the evening gown division. Miss U.S.A., Charlene Lundberg won the playsuit division; and Miss Ceylon, Yvonne Eileen Gunawardene, won the national costume and speech division.

One final preliminary award was given out this day, as well. It was the Miss Friendship Award, won by Miss British Guiana, Julia Ann Adamson.

After all these awards, and an entertaining “divertissement,” emcee Byron Palmer announced the 15 semifinalists, based on their total points received in each round of preliminary competition.

The semifinalists were, in alphabetical order by country:

  1. AUSTRIA - Elizabeth Hodacs
  2. COLOMBIA - Maria Stella Márquez Zawadzky
  3. ENGLAND - Joyce Kay
  4. GERMANY - Helga Kirsch
  5. ICELAND - Sigridur Geirsdottir
  6. INDIA - Iona Pinto
  7. ISRAEL - Lili Dajani
  8. ITALY - Maria Grazia Jacomelli
  9. JAPAN - Michiko Takagi
  10. PARAGUAY - Gretel Hedger Carvallo
  11. PHILIPPINES - Edita Resurreccion Vital
  12. POLAND - Marzena Malinowska
  13. SINGAPORE - Christl D’Cruz
  14. U.S.A. - Charlene Lundberg
  15. VENEZUELA - Gladys (Laly) Ascanio Arredondo

Earlier on Thursday, before the evening’s competition, Miss Morocco, Raymonde Valle, faced another “skin” scandal. Her photo in the program book had been retouched and an evening gown was painted on her body. This led to rumors that she had originally posed in the nude for the photo. “No, I didn’t pose in the nude,” Miss Morocco said to reporters, “I posed in a Bikini.”

Miss Morocco
Miss Morocco, Raymonde Valle, in the retouched photo.

Also on Thursday, newspapers reported that Miss Holland, Katinka Bleeker, had criticized the morals of American girls, stating that she had spent a year in Las Vegas as a showgirl and that the American girls there were “mostly prostitutes.” Miss U.S.A., Charlene Lundberg, quickly rose to her nation’s defense. “American girls are very nice. They compare with girls from any country when it comes to morals.”

Miss Universe veterans Miss Austria and Miss Colombia were also busy commenting to the press. They said they would rather compete in “more figure-revealing” swimsuits, like they did in Miss Universe, than the playsuits they were competing in now.

Miss Colombia’s take on the swimsuit vs. playsuit: “The swimsuit is so much better for the girl who has a good figure.”

Miss Austria’s impression: “The playsuits in this contest are fine for girls who have thin legs, but...”

They also said the Long Beach pageant was better organized that the Miss Universe pageant in Miami Beach.

On the diving board
On the diving board, poolside at the Lafayette Hotel.

From left to right: Miss British Guiana and Miss Friendship, Julia Ann Adamson; Miss USA, Charlene Lundberg; and Miss Canada, Margaret Powell.



The “Throne of Miss International Beauty” - August 12, 1960

On Friday evening, Long Beach was charged with energy and anticipation. Who would be the first woman to ascend the throne of “Miss International Beauty”? Miss Iceland, with her three preliminary awards? Miss Colombia,a top 15 finisher at Miss Universe? Miss Austria, a top 5 finisher at Miss Universe?

5,400 spectators filled the Long Beach auditorium and the nine judges sharpened their pencils for this, their final and toughest assignment of the week. The judges first scored the 15 semifinalists in evening gown. There was an intermission and then the 15 competed in playsuit. After a “divertissement, ” the 15 competed in the national costume and speech round. For this round, the 15 delivered impromptu speeches. For the preliminary rounds, the contestants had to recite speeches about their countries that the contest organizers gave them.

After the rounds of judging, there was another “divertissement” and emcee Byron Palmer then announced the top 5 finalists, listed here in alphabetical order by country:

  1. COLOMBIA - Maria Stella Márquez Zawadzky
  2. ENGLAND - Joyce Kay
  3. ICELAND - Sigridur Geirsdottir
  4. INDIA - Iona Pinto
  5. U.S.A. - Charlene Lundberg

By Half A Point

The final 5 stood on stage, in their evening gowns again, as the judges made their final marks and the auditors tallied the scores. The women were kept on stage ten minutes longer than planned for the judges to finish their deliberations. And the final results were:

  • 4th runner-up - U.S.A, Charlene Lundberg
  • 3rd runner-up - ENGLAND, Joyce Kay
  • 2nd runner-up - ICELAND, Sigridur Geirsdottir
  • 1st runner-up - INDIA, Iona Pinto
  • Miss International Beauty of 1961 - COLOMBIA, Maria Stella Márquez Zawadzky

Emcee Byron Palmer crowned the first Miss International and she took her victory walk, pausing to nod to and thank the judges.

The Los Angeles Times, in their front-page Saturday story, noted how cool, calm, and collected the final 5 were as the results were announced. The paper hinted that the results had leaked out from backstage. The Times declared the final moments of the contest as "probably the most unemotional climax of any of the Long Beach beauty pageants." (referring to the previous 8 Miss Universe Pageants that Long Beach hosted).

And what about the extra ten minutes the final 5 had to stand on stage? The Times reported that Miss Colombia won by a half a point over Miss India. Miss India, Iona Pinto, confirmed this fact in the book PRIDE OF INDIA by Persis Khambatta, and explained how she happened to loose the half a point.

In the book, which pays tribute to former Miss Indias, Miss Pinto says that after the contest, the top 5 were introduced to the judges. The Dean of the Judges, Vincent Trotta, told Miss Pinto, “Miss India, I hope you keep smiling...because you stopped smiling you lost half a point to Miss Colombia.” Miss Pinto goes on to say that during the ten minutes extra they stood on stage for the final voting, the judges waited for one of them to do something wrong. And she, Miss India, stopped smiling.

Top 5
Top 5 at Miss International 1960.

From left to right: 3rd runner-up, Miss England, Joyce Kay; 1st runner-up, Miss India, Iona Pinto; Miss International Beauty of 1961, Miss Colombia, Stella Marquez; 2nd runner-up, Miss Iceland, Sigridur Geirsdottir; and 4th runner-up, Miss U.S.A., Charlene Lundberg.


“The Finale of A Happy Dream”

"The finale of a happy dream" - this is what the first Miss International had to say about her victory. Newspaper reports described her as “striking...dazzling” and with a “fascinating figure and flashing smile.” A language and psychology student at Marymount College in New York, the new Miss International had also attended the University of California at Los Angeles. In a press conference after her victory, she declared that she was the “ugly duckling” of the family and that her two younger sisters were prettier than she was.

On Saturday, the day after Miss Colombia’s victory, the contestants spent the day saying farewell to the community of Long Beach. One of these farewells was a “Wedding of the Waters,” in which 14 contestants from coastal cities poured waters from their countries into the Long Beach Harbor. That evening, 1,000 people - each and everyone in formal attire - attended the gala coronation ball at the Lafayette Hotel. White-uniformed naval officers with crew cuts escorted the 52 pageant delegates.

For winning the crown of Miss International Beauty of 1961, Miss Colombia collected a $10,000 cash prize. Miss India, the first runner-up collected $4,000; Miss Iceland, the second runner-up, was awarded $2,500; Miss England, third runner-up, received $2,500; and Miss U.S.A., fourth runner-up, $1,000. All of the 15 semifinalists received $200 cash and all 52 received $100. It is important to note that these cash awards were provided by the City and Port of Long Beach, not by commercial, corporate sponsors.


A Whirlwind Schedule

The first Miss International, when competing for the Miss Colombia title, had received a letter from her U.S. college stating that she should pursue her education elsewhere, as the college frowned on “bathing beauty contests.”

With the title of Miss International, Stella did pursue her education elsewhere...across the globe. She faced a whirlwind schedule, from television appearances in New York to her homecoming to Colombia to a promotional tour to Europe to riding in the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California.

After Stella relinquished her crown, she met and married a Filipino businessmen and moved to Manila and now directs the Miss Philippines contest.


Conclusion

Stella proved to be the ideal choice to hold the first Miss International title. Her style, charm, and looks made her a great ambassador for Colombia...and Long Beach, California. She wore the crown with “honor and distinction” and solidly put Miss International on the global beauty map, giving us all another wonderful crown in the cosmos to admire.

As an editorial in a local Long Beach paper said, “We hail her as the first of what will be a long line of reigning international beauties...”

Stella Marquez, Miss International 1960
The dazzling and sparkling Stella Marquez, the first Miss International.

Back to Part One

SOURCES:

The Independent (Long Beach, CA)
The Los Angeles Times
Vancouver Sun (Canada)


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:

We are grateful to William Prendiz de Jurado for allowing us to bring you the Miss International Seminar Series. Thank you, William.


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