Gabriela Brum and Kimberley SantosMISS WORLD 1980 MASTER CLASS

The World's Most Reluctant Beauty Queen...Gabriella Brum

Presented by
Donald West, Chair of the Department of Miss Word Studies


Class, class, please settle down. Take your seats please... Class is about to begin. I must say I am very encouraged by the turnout for today's lecture.

I know many of you are preparing for your first exam on "Duct Tape, Glue and Vaseline (DTGV)," and as rigorous as that may be, your undying interest in more academic subjects speaks to your dedication. If I am not mistaken, this may be the largest class I, the Dean of Beauty School, have addressed to date.

I see we have some distinguished guests for this class. Hello, Norma, it is nice to see you again. And Irene, I do appreciate your not missing your entrance and being here on time.

Oh and could I ask the students in Miss Hongsakula's Beehives 101 class to please sit in the back so you don't block anyones view.

Now, shall we begin?

In our lecture "All That Glitters..Is Only Rhinestone" we saw that more than a few ladies who wore coveted crowns did so most reluctantly. Their reluctance took many forms and some instances were more serious than others. That being said...if I may be so bold ...they were all pikers in this game when compared to the subject of this Miss World Master Class...The most reluctant beauty queen of them all...Gabriella Brum, Miss World 1980.

I shall now turn over the podium to Donald West, the esteemed Chair of the Department of Miss World Studies.

1952 - 1979: A RICH TRADITION

Germany was among the most successful of the countries at the Miss World pageants between 1952 and 1979. Their beauty queens placed 16 times in the 26 years that they competed - 9 semi-finalists, 6 runners-up and one Miss World, Petra Schurmann in 1956.

Miss World 1956
Left to right: fifth runner-up Eva Brann of Sweden; second runner-up Rina Weiss of Israel; Miss World 1956, Germany's Petra Schurmann, and first runner-up Betty Cherry of the USA.

Miss World 1969
In 1969, Germany's representative to Miss World, Christa Margraf, placed third, behind Eva von Ruber Staier of Austria and Gail Renshaw of the USA.

Left to right: third runner-up Pamela Lord of Guyana; first runner-up Gail Renshaw of the USA; Miss World 1969, Austria's Eva von Ruber Staier; second-runner-up Christa Margraf of Germany; and fourth runner-up Marcia Piazza of Venezuela.


At the Miss World 1980 pageant, Germany was represented by 18 year-old Gabriella Brum, a blonde, blue-eyed beauty. She had already attracted attention as the tallest of the contestants, standing 6 ft. 1 in. She was half German on her mother’s side and half British on her father’s side. Her parents met when Edward Brum, of London, served with the British Army in Germany in 1961. Their relationship lasted only a few years.

Benno BellenbaumGabriella’s private life worried Miss World contest organizer Julia Morley. Brum lived in Los Angeles with 52 year-old Benno Bellenbaum, a film cameraman and producer. They met at a party in West Berlin the previous year, on a blind date arranged by a mutual friend. Benno reported that “it was kind of love at first sight.” Gabriella was a student at a school of theatre costume design in Germany, but in the spring of 1980 she was expelled for reasons neither Benno nor she would discuss. She moved to California to live with Benno, and also found a job as a model.

Her victory at the Miss Germany pageant was not without controversy. Claims arose that the contest was rigged because a friend of Benno’s was on the judging panel. However, her title was confirmed.


There were three firsts for this 30th edition of the Miss World pageant:

1) The Mark McCormack Organization took over the Miss World scene. The day of the small-time Miss World was over, with the title expected to be used much more profitably. This organization handled people like Swedish tennis player Bjorn Borg and American golfer Jack Nicklaus, raking in millions of dollars.

2) The contest was being screened on ITV for the first time. The contest at London’s Royal Albert Hall would be watched by an estimated worldwide audience of 400 million, including 20 million in Britain, the sponsors said.

3) For the first time in the history of the contest, the women were judged for personality and intelligence as well as looks. No vital statistics were given. The judges were six men and three women. The change was made in response to criticism that the contest in the past has been no more than a “cattle market.”

The winner of the 1980 pageant would get $12,000 in prize money and a promotion contract for the next 12 months worth at least $36,000.


The most reluctant of the 67 contestants was fair-haired Miss Denmark, Jane Bill, an arts student. “It is not for me. There is more to life than being beautiful,” she declared four days before the finals. “I would not want to lose a whole year travelling around the world. My time is precious to me. If I did win, I don’t know what I would do. It would be an honour for Denmark, but I don’t think I would accept the title.”

Miss Canada, Annette Labrecque, a brown-haired beauty with beautiful green eyes that was the envy of others, was on the verge of quitting the contest. “I thought this was a personality contest. I am very disillusioned,” she told a reporter from The Sun. “I think the winner should have beauty that comes from within. I don’t know if I would accept the title if I won.”


Welsh model Kim Ashfield, with light brown hair, dark brown eyes and an hour-glass figure, was Miss United Kingdom. She had posed the previous year for nude pictures taken for a glamour calendar; however, these were never used. She said: “I am not ashamed of the pictures.” These would not have prevented Kim from holding the Miss World crown if she had won.

“There is no ban on Miss World doing topless or nude shots,” Julia Morley explained. “But there is a clause in the girls’ contract saying they should not have done anything which might bring the Miss World title into disrepute. The kind of thing I’m talking about are the semi-pornographic ones that appear in men’s magazines - the full frontal ones.” Mrs. Morley added: “Kim is a great girl with a fantastic personality. And I know that anything that she has done would have been in good taste.”


The girl made favourite by Ladbrokes betting agency was 18 year-old blonde, brown-eyed Miss Israel, Anat Zimerman, who was given odds of 6-1 at winning the title. Miss France and Miss United Kingdom were next with 7-1, Miss Germany was fourth with 8-1, and Miss Ireland in fifth spot with 10-1. Miss United States, Brooke Alexander of Hawaii, was sixth with odds of 16-1. Brooke already had pageant experience, being first runner-up at the Miss Young International pageant held two years earlier, in Korea.

Top 5 at Miss World 1980
Four of the six Ladbrokes favourites were also the judges' favourites.

Left to right:Miss UK, Kim Ashfield (fourth runner-up); Miss France, Patricia Barzyk (second runner-up); the new Miss World, Germany's Gabriella Brum; Miss Guam, Kimberley Santos (first runner-up); and Miss Israel, Anat Zimerman (third runner-up).

The Sun tabloid gave perfect five stars to each of the contestants from France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Sri Lanka, and United Kingdom. India’s Anita Reddi already won an international beauty title - Miss Teenage Intercontinental 1978, which was held in Aruba.

The Sun reporter also polled the contestants as to whom they would pick among themselves as Miss World. Nine out of the 55 who responded chose brown-haired, blue-eyed Miss France, Patricia Barzyk. Australia and Jamaica each received 5 votes. Belgium, New Zealand and Canada were behind with 4 votes each. Miss Germany received just two votes - from Miss Bolivia and Miss United Kingdom.


The pageant finals began at 8 p.m. on Thursday, 1980 November 13. It was held in Royal Albert Hall, home of the pageant since 1969, in front of a sold-out crowd of 6,000. Peter Marshall and Judith Chalmers were the comperes for the evening's festivities.

As usual, the pageant opened with the contestants parading in their national costumes, after which they sang a very familiar song from the 1970's, "I'd like to teach the world to sing..." After swimsuit and evening gown parades, Peter Marshall announced the 15 semi-finalists.

The 15 semi-finalists listed here along with comments made on each by The Sun tabloid that morning, were:

  1. AUSTRIA - Sonya-Maria Schlepp. “Aged 19. 5 ft 8 in. 36-24-36. Chestnut hair, green eyes. Odds 50-1. She sometimes works in her mother’s restaurant.”

  2. BERMUDA - Zina Minks. “Aged 17. 5 ft 7 in. 34-24-35 ½ . Black hair, brown eyes. Odds 50-1. Insurance clerk who wants to be a social worker. Likes cooking.”

  3. FRANCE - Patricia Barzyk. “Aged 17. 5 ft 9 in. 35 ½-24-35 ½. Brown hair, blue eyes. Odds 7-1. Schoolgirl with masses of ooh-la-la. Grandma encouraged her to enter.”

  4. GERMANY - Gabriella Brum. “Aged 18. 6 ft 1 in. 35-24 ½ -35 ½. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Odds 8-1. Tallest girl in the contest - and a real stunner.”

  5. GUAM - Kimberley Santos. “Aged 19. 5 ft 8 in. 35-25-36. Black hair, brown eyes. Odds: 20-1. Lots of innocent appeal. Works as a model and travel consultant.”

  6. INDIA - Elizabeth Anita Reddi. “Aged 21. 5 ft 5 in. 33-24-35. Black hair, brown eyes. Odds: 20-1. A freelance model whose star quality could carry her through.”

  7. ISRAEL - Anat Zimerman. “Aged 18 ½. 5 ft 7 in. 35-23-35. Blonde hair, brown eyes. Odds 6-1. Could hit the jackpot. Has what it takes to be Miss World.”

  8. JAMAICA - Michelle Ann Harris. “Aged 21. 5 ft 8 in. 34-24 ½ -36 ½. Brown hair and eyes. Odds 11-1. Former Jamaican tennis champion who could serve an ace tonight.”

  9. NEW ZEALAND - Vicky Lee Hemi. “Aged 18. 5 ft 10 in. 35-25-36. Dark brown hair and eyes. Odds 33-1. Has beautiful Welsh mother, could be the dark horse of the competition.”

  10. PUERTO RICO - Michelle Torres Cintron. “Aged 19. 5 ft. 6 in. 34-24-35. Brown hair and eyes. Odds 18-1. University student of communications, who likes singing. Would grace any stage.”

  11. SWEDEN - Monica Jenemark. “Aged 21. 5 ft 7 ½ in. 34-24-35. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Odds: 50-1. Busy girl who likes knitting, sailing, ski-ing, windsurfing, badminton and logging. Phew!”

  12. UNITED KINGDOM - Kim Ashfield. “Aged 21. 5 ft 7 in. 35-24-35. Light brown hair, dark brown eyes. Odds 7-1. Welsh model whose Mum was a dancer. Among the favourites.”

  13. UNITED STATES - Brooke Alexander. “Aged 17. 5 ft 10 in. 34-25-35. Blonde hair, blue-green eyes. Odds: 16-1. Receptionist who wants to get into advertising. Delicate-doll features.”

  14. VENEZUELA - Hilda Astrid Abrahamz Navarro. “Aged 21. 5 ft 8 in. 36-24-36. Blonde hair, brown eyes. Odds: 25-1. A Bachelor of Science and Humanities who is following a career in architecture.”

  15. ZIMBABWE - Shirley Nyanyiwa. “Aged 22. 5 ft 7 in. 35 ½ - 24-36. Black hair, brown eyes. Odds: 100-1. First finalist from this part of the world for 15 years. Wants to be a model.”

Miss Germany was actually the last semi-finalist to be announced. When Peter Marshall called her name out, and she appeared on stage, she received tremendous applause. "Yes, a lovely welcome there...," Peter Marshall said.

When Gabriella made her next appearance on stage, during the semi-finalist evening gown parade, Peter Marshall again remarked on the hearty applause she received: "A tremendous reception for Gabriella Brum!" Gabriella was well on her way to becoming both the crowd and the judges' favorite, a rare confluence of opinion in the world of beauty pageants.


Peter Marshall next interviewed Miss World 1979, Bermuda's Gina Swainson, about her year, and then he announced the top 7 finalists. These were, in the order in which they were announced:

  1. GUAM - Kimberley Santos
  2. USA - Brooke Alexander
  3. NEW ZEALAND - Vicky Lee Hemi
  4. ISRAEL - Anat Zimerman
  5. UNITED KINGDOM - Kim Ashfield
  6. FRANCE - Patricia Barzyk
  7. GERMANY - Gabriella Brum

Judith Chalmers interviewed the 7 finalists. When Peter Marshall announced Gabriella as the last of the 7, and she again appeared on stage, the audience went wild. The first thing Judith said to Gabriella was, "What a reception, Gabriella! Congratulations!"

Next, Judith asked Gabriella what her time during the pageant had been like and how she felt about the competition. Gabriella said, "At the moment, I feel great!" Judith also asked Gabriella about her interest in costume design and why she did not want to be an actress with her good looks and charming personality. Gabriella replied, "I'm are not interested in being in front of the camera."


The seven finalists were isolated backstage in a black-curtained partition, and were then announced as runners-up in reverse order: United Kingdom’s Kim Ashfield was the first name to be called, as fourth runner-up. She left the room, walked a few steps down a hall and turned on stage into bright lights, to applause from the audience. The betting favourite, Israel’s Anat Zimerman, was next to be called as third runner-up. Then it was the turn of Miss France, Patricia Barzyk, as second runner-up, and finally Miss Guam, Kimberley Santos, was crowned as first runner-up.

Three finalists remained backstage. Miss Germany was nearest the stage, with Miss New Zealand next to her and Miss United States farther away. Gabriella leaned away from the other two women in order to concentrate on the announcement being made over the microphone, and Vicki and Brooke traded nervous giggles. When Gabriella’s name was announced, she gasped wide-eyed in shock and then broke into a great smile. Miss New Zealand turned around and gave Gabriella a congratulatory kiss, Miss United States applauding as she looked on. A young man draped the Miss World sash over Gabriella, who then went onstage to accept her crown.

Top 3 at Miss World 1980
Left to right: Miss France, Patricia Barzyk (second runner-up); Miss World 1980, Gabriella Brum; and Miss Guam, Kimberley Santos (first runner-up).


Asked by the press whether she thought she had won because of her beauty or her brains, Brum declared: "I think more because of my beauty." Asked about her boyfriend, Benno, she responded, “We live together, but we are not planning to marry. I don’t want to talk about him.” She refused to respond to questions about the English father she had not seen for years, and also ignored allegations that she had posed topless in Germany and America. Julia Morley led her away before any more embarrassing questions were asked.

Brum’s middle-aged boyfriend was much more talkative. When The Sun broke the news to Benno Bellenbaum at his penthouse in Los Angeles, he exclaimed, “That’s great … everybody will want her to work for them. I only hope she still finds time for me.” He attempted to telephone Gabriella three times, but the security guards refused to put him through to her. He complained that she “really was like a prisoner.”

Benno was offered £50,000 for nude pictures of Gabriella, but he denied any knowledge of these. “I haven’t taken any”, he claimed, “and even if I had I wouldn’t dream of selling them.”


Brum began the first day of her reign as Miss World with smiles and modest comments for reporters during the traditional morning-after champagne breakfast with the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Ronald Gardner-Thorpe, at his official residence. She said she had telephoned Bellenbaum, but refused to answer further questions from the press. She did acknowledge that Benno was “not too pleased” about her victory and added: “I think he did not expect it, just like I did not expect it.”

Benno told reporters that Gabriella was nearly in tears when she called him to let him know that the contest organizers wanted her to stay in London for a year. He said that they were both shocked when she became Miss World - “because neither of us believed for a second that she would win." He added: “I wasn’t really happy because I knew there would be problems. We knew her working and travelling as Miss World might affect our being together.”


Gabriella Brum was the most unpopular contestant in the Miss World competition, some of the other contestants claimed. They planned to send a petition to the organizers, demanding that Miss Guam should get the crown instead. Miss United States, Brooke Alexander, said: “Gabriella was very selfish and rather aggressive ... Miss Guam would be a much better Miss World.” Miss Austria, Sonya-Maria Schlepp, who shared a room with Gabriella and found her difficult to live with, said: “None of the other girls liked her.”

“Gabriella was the most unpopular girl in the contest”, said Miss Ireland, Michelle Rocca, “I think she was very arrogant, and kept pushing herself forward all the time. She was always throwing tantrums. We all laughed when we heard her saying in a TV interview how many friends she had made among the others. It was supposed to be a personality contest, but Gabriella did not have any.” An Irish official described the contest as “a farce” and said Ireland would boycott it next year. However, they did not go through with that threat.


At three o’clock in the afternoon, after an hour-long conversation with Julia Morley and 17 hours after winning the contest, Gabriella quit. Mrs. Morley held a news conference to announce that Brum did “not wish to hold the title of Miss World 1980 and … we have agreed to respect her request. She will now get none of the prize money.” Julia refused to comment further, citing her respect for “other people’s confidences,” and added that a new Miss World would be named on Monday.

Hoping to escape gossip, Gabriella slipped out of the hotel shortly before Julia’s announcement, and headed immediately to Heathrow Airport with the intention of taking the first available flight to her mother’s home in West Berlin. News reporters and photographers caught up with her, so she was in an angry mood as she rushed through the airport. When she was informed by a ticket agent that she would have to stop at Dusseldorf and take a change of a flight to Berlin as a standby passenger, she said: “I’ll sleep on the floor - I’ll do anything! Just get me to Berlin!”

Ladbrokes paid out thousands of pounds to lucky gamblers who picked Miss Germany. A spokesman said: “As far as we are concerned, she was the winner.”


News reporters got in touch with Gabriella’s mother, Frau Angelika Roure, in West Berlin. She said that she was not shocked about Gabriella’s news. “Gabriella phoned me this morning, to say she was under stress and felt she would have a nervous breakdown if things didn’t ease up,” Frau Roure said. “She hated the thought of being marketed as cheesecake.” The mother then claimed that “she’s not that kind of girl … no matter what some newspapers might be saying.”

Benno was relieved to hear Gabriella had quit. “She wants to come home … our love is so strong and so young and we want to be together,” he said, “Her home is here with me. We just love being together, staying in, cooking and reading.” He reported that Gabriella told him being Miss World “was like being in jail - she even wanted to quit the day before the contest. She couldn’t step outside her hotel room without security guards following her. And she complained that the guards sitting outside her room kept her awake by playing cards.” Benno flew from Los Angeles to West Berlin, where he was reunited with Gabriella on Monday.


“This was premeditated. She is just a pawn in a game,” declared Julia Morley. “I find it all very confusing, yet it is abundantly clear that this was premeditated. It was apparently firmly planted in her mind at the beginning that she had no intention of fulfilling her obligations should she win.”

Mrs. Morley said she spoke with “certain people” which threw new light on why Gabriella had quit, claiming that “Gabriella is being controlled by her sponsors and apparently her boyfriend who has been instructing from a distance. She could have made this decision a lot earlier or found some other way to disappear with a lot more grace.”

According to Julia, Gabriella was “just a puppet on a string being manipulated by her boyfriend” who had been on the telephone to Gabriella constantly during her short reign as Miss World. “She is a silly sad little girl. Benno is pulling the strings to make her jump.”


Julia Morley wanted to offer the Miss World title to first runner-up Miss Guam, Kimberley Santos - however, she was no where to be found. She was booked on a flight to San Francisco, but when the plane landed there, the airline said she was not aboard. Miss Guam’s grandparents, who lived in Ulster, did not know where Kimberley was either, but they threw a party Friday night to celebrate the news that she would become the new Miss World. “We’re absolutely delighted,” said Norma and Ned Gibson at their home on the outskirts of Belfast. They explained that their grand-daughter Kim was born in Ulster.

After Mrs. Morley finally located Kimberley Santos in San Francisco, she suggested to her: “Sleep on it and make absolutely sure you want the title.” But Kimberley immediately accepted the crown with the declaration: “I can do the title justice.”

Two weeks later, on November 29 - a sunny Saturday - a crowd of 5,000 cheered as guitar and conch shells heralded the crowning of Kimberley Santos as Miss World in her island home of Guam. The coronation site was on a 20-metre flower-laden catamaran, surrounded by a flotilla of canoes and motor boats. “Although it is a win by default, I am still proud,“ said the new Miss World.

And thus, with refreshing honesty a very eager Kimberley Santos become Miss World for 1980.

The new Miss World 1980
Kimberley Santos is named the new Miss World 1980.

Miss World 1980
Here is a high-fashion, glamour shot of Guam's Kimberley Santos, Miss World 1980. She remains friends with the Morleys and even has a house near them in London.


What are we to make of Miss Brum? After all, she took the time to enter the Miss Germany pageant which she won. She then shopped for gowns, shoes, and cosmetics to be ready for the Miss World pageant. She took part in all the phases of competition and lo and behold by the time it was over she had won the title. And then she quit.

Her reign lasted a mere 17 hours and made headlines around the world. And today, 18 years later, she still stands at the top of the stage as the most Reluctant Beauty Queen of them all.

That brings me to the conclusion of this year' Miss World Master Class. I trust that you will all seriously consider what was contained in this lecture, as well as the previous lecture "All That Glitters.. Is Only Rhinestone." Each and everyone of you are here because you have a dream - To earn your degree from Beauty School. With that honor will come great responsiblity. I ask you to consider whether you really are prepared to take on the job of being an Alumni of Beauty School. Remember, you must be careful of what you wish for, for it may come true.

Your homework for next class...please consider the fact that Miss Germany has never made the semi-finals at Miss World since Gabriella quit. Is this just coincidence or a calculated move on the part of the organizers?

Good luck on your "DTGV" exam. You didn't hear this here, but you might want to study a Kelli McCarty tape. Class Dismissed.


The Sun, London
Vancouver Sun (Canada)
The Province (Vancouver, Canada)
San Francisco Chronicle
The Gazette (Montreal)
Winnipeg Free Press (Canada)


Donald West;
Michael Knittel; and
Our Esteemed Benefactor

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