Gerti Daub

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Gerti Daub
ResidenceHamburg, Germany
Other names"Grace Kelly," "The Fridge," "Germany's Blonde Venus"
Known forLosing the scandal-plagued 1957 Miss Universe contest which most observers thought she should win easily
Carlheinz Hollmann
(m. 1958; death 2004)
ChildrenNils (b. 1959), Nicole (b. 1962)

Gerti Daub Hollmann (born 1937 in Utrecht, Netherlands) is a German esthetician, model and actress. Crowned Miss Germany of 1957, she is probably most famous for being the girl who many thought should have won the scandal-plagued 1957 Miss Universe contest but didn't.

Scandal-plagued Miss Universe Pageant[edit]

The 1957 Miss Universe Pageant was beset by a number of serious scandals, not just the judges' failure to select Miss Germany, the popular favorite,[1] as Miss Universe.[2]

Daub Appears Unbeatable[edit]

Daub, a 19-year-old, 5' 6½" green-eyed blonde from Hamburg, was crowned Miss Hamburg in May, 1957. The next month she won the Miss Germany title[3] and just four days later placed third in the Miss Europe competition. There she was chosen "Miss Photogenic Europe."

Soon after she became Miss Germany, the press started calling her "Grace Kelly" because of her strong resemblance to the beautiful American movie star.[4]

Next came the Miss Universe Pageant in Long Beach, California. Opening ceremonies were Saturday, 13 July 1957, followed by the Miss Universe Parade on Sunday, after which Daub was again voted "Miss Photogenic"[5] by members of the international press corps covering the Pageant. By Tuesday, Daub was clearly the favorite of both the media and the public and the next morning's Los Angeles Times would describe her as "a virtually perfect 19-year-old blonde, who is becoming a favorite to win the Miss Universe crown."[6] Another Times article would refer to her as "the exquisitely beautiful Miss Germany." [7] The press soon came up with another nickname for Daub -- "Germany's Blonde Venus."[8] The Austin Daily Herald would refer to her as "the breath-takingly beautiful Gerti Daub." [9] The Los Angeles Herald-Express would call her "the almost unanimous choice of television viewers and press photographers."[10] Another article in the same paper would say, "Germany's entrant in the lavish spectacle, blonde, delicate Gerti Daub seemed an overwhelming favorite."[11]

On Thursday when the 15 semi-finalists gave their speeches, Daub clearly received the most applause.[12]

Crowd Doesn't Agree With Judges[edit]

It was in such an atmosphere that Pageant emcee Ed Hennessy had the unenviable task of introducing Daub as the fourth runner-up during Friday night's selection of Miss Universe. His announcement drew such sustained booing and hissing from the 4,000-member audience that he finally told the crowd: "Thank you. That's democracy. It's not very nice democracy, but it's democracy."[12] The Times would report: "Obviously the favorite of the packed [Long Beach Municipal] auditorium, Miss Germany's introduction as the fourth runner-up drew spontaneous boos from the audience to the extent that Ed Hennessy, the master of ceremonies, had to remonstrate with the crowd."[13]

Subsequently, so little applause greeted announcement of the fourth-, third-, and second-place finishers, Hennessy would ask each time for more applause, stressing how important that particular award was.[12] And just before introducing Miss Peru, Gladys Zender, as the new Miss Universe, he even made a plea to the audience: "I hope that we've heard for this year the last boo...."[12] The public was so upset with the judges' snub of Miss Germany that the telephone switchboard at KTTV, the Los Angeles TV station carrying the Pageant, was flooded with angry callers.[13][14] The same was true at the Los Angeles Times which then owned KTTV.[13][14]

The next day, the Herald-Express's front-page headline didn't tell who'd won the title, instead it read: "HISS, BOO BEAUTY JUDGES," with a subheading "Fans of Germany Entrant in Protest."[15]

Viewers Question Legitimacy of Pageant[edit]

The legitimacy of the contest, itself, was called into question by viewers. One caller said, "From Miss Maryland on down the whole contest was a fake."[14] (This was a reference to the fact that earlier that day, Leona Gage of Maryland had been stripped of the Miss USA title after she admitted she was married, a violation of Pageant rules. Actually she had been married twice and had two children.) A different caller stated, "Miss Germany stood an all-out winner. I'm so disgusted I'll never look at another Miss Universe contest again."[14] "Miss Germany should have won hands down," claimed yet another.[14] And with Latin Americans winning three of the top five places, a caller complained, "We can't have strictly objective judging when four judges are from Latin America."[14]

Other Contestants Fault Judges[edit]

The International News Service (INS) reported that many of the other contestants "grumbled that blonde Gerti Daub (Miss Germany) should have won and most of them complained about the judging."[16] Even Zender said Gerti should have won.[11] And Miss Morocco, Jacqueline Bonilla, stated most emphatically that Daub should have been the victor: "Zee judges, zey don't understand. Miss Germany should have won," she explained. "Anyone could see that she was the winner."[14] Bonilla also said that the judges "...are too stern and make a girl like me shake in the boots."[17]

Judges Defend Their Vote[edit]

The nine Miss Universe judges would defend their choice of Miss Peru over Miss Germany, claiming their decision had nothing to do with the presence of four Latin Americans on the panel.[18] In addition to a Venezuelan, there was a Peruvian, a Brazilian, and a Cuban;[18] Miss Peru won, Miss Brazil finished second, and Miss Cuba fourth. (Altogether there were five Latin judges, but the judge from Argentina was unable to continue and was replaced by the Brazilian.)[18] Just the year before, the then-Miss Peru had led a brief sit-down strike when not one of the Latin American entries was chosen as a finalist. Some claimed the Pageant was now paying back the Latin Americans for previous slights.[14] Popular columnist Earl Wilson, a judge, would say, "We really struggled with the decision. It ought to be good for our relations down south."[19] Chief Judge Vincent Trotta of New York defended his judges by saying "Miss Germany had a very beautiful face," but did not measure up to the first three winners on other scores.[18] "A 'statuesque figure,'" he said, "counts mainly in every judges mind. And that's the way I instruct my judges."[18]

Zender was 1.4" larger in the bust (36.0"-34.6"), but also 2.3" larger in the waist (23.6"-21.3") than Daub. Hip measurements were virtually the same, with Zender 0.2" smaller (36.0"-36.2").[4][20]

So which figure is the more statuesque? Statuesque is a subjective quality. And it is culturally dependent. Apparently the judges felt a larger chest measurement constituted "more statuesque," whereas one newspaper account referred to the smaller Daub as "delicate."[11]

Daub Says Nothing[edit]

Miss Germany said nothing about the judges' decision,[10] but was later seen crying.[13] "I am homesick," she sobbed.[10][19] "Everyone seems to have friends and family but I have no one."[9] She had also shed a few tears earlier when happy after being selected as one of the 15 semifinalists.[21]

Long Beach Paper Says Almost Nothing[edit]

The next morning's edition of the Long Beach newspaper, the Independent (a sponsor of the Miss Universe Pageant), skipped over all the booing, the delays it caused, and the many unhappy-viewer phone calls, and merely stated: "When the fifth-place winner, Miss Germany, was announced, an audible sigh of disappointment rose from the crowd."[19]

More Scandals[edit]

More scandals would rock the 1957 Miss Universe Pageant. Miss Zender was not actually 18 years old as required by Pageant rules, but several months short of 18.[22] Pageant officials allowed her to keep the title after being convinced by Zender's representatives and others that, in Peru, someone who reaches 17 years, 7 months is considered to be 18.[23] Officials would also learn that Miss England, Sonia Hamilton, was already 25 years old which put her over the Pageant's age limit (under 25).[24] In addition, her real name was Cynthia Cooper and her parents were Australian not British. [25]

Finally, when the Miss USA crown was taken away from Leona Gage, Charlotte Sheffield, Miss Utah, who had come in second, assumed the Miss USA title. However, since she had already missed the first night's judging for Miss Universe, Pageant officials ruled she was not eligible to participate for that title.


Gerti Daub didn't become Miss Universe, but racked up a number of other titles, official and otherwise: Miss Hamburg, Miss Germany, Miss Photogenic Europe, Miss Photogenic (Miss Universe), "Grace Kelly," and "Germany's Blonde Venus." Daub acquired yet another "title of sorts" back when the Mayor of Baden-Baden congratulated her upon winning the Miss Germany title in his city. He wanted to kiss Daub on the mouth, but she turned to the side. The Frankfurt evening newspaper then ran the headline, "Miss Germany was a fridge."[4][26] Daub explained that she didn't just kiss everyone.[4]

Life after the Miss Universe Pageant[edit]

After becoming Miss Hamburg, Daub had been asked by famous German actor and singer Hans Albers to appear in his movie Das Herz von St. Pauli (The Heart of St. Pauli). She accepted and said it was a great experience,[27] but she didn't think she was a good actress.[4] A few days after Daub returned home to Hamburg following the Miss Universe Pageant, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer offered her $250,000 to make a movie.[4] Maria Schell, Curt Jurgens, Yul Brenner, and Sammy Davis, Jr. all tried to convince her to do it.[4] An MGM agent even came to Hamburg several times trying to persuade her.[4] Daub declined, saying she was not a good actress and did not seek a film career.[4] "The line of bad actresses is long enough," she said. The head of MGM told her he'd never had such a refusal in his entire life.[4] Daub, however, explained that many actresses fail, but she "knew what she had" at the beauty salon she owned in Hamburg.[4] Also, as Miss Germany she had a nearly 12-month commitment to various sponsors to travel and promote their products. Daub would later say she never would have guessed how much hard work being Miss Germany actually entailed. It involved long days after little sleep, with first a press conference, followed by signing autographs, going to sales events, and then nightly VIP invitations. The next day would be the same, only in a different city.[4]

Highest Honor and Greatest Happiness[edit]

Daub says that the highest honor for her was being the only Miss Germany to be received by the Pope (Pius XII) in a private audience.[4] And the greatest happiness of her Miss Germany time? Meeting her husband, Carlheinz Hollmann, when the journalist and television host interviewed her after she returned from a one-month trip to South America early in 1958.[4] Daub would marry Hollmann on 1 December 1958, and the pair would have two children, Nils (an advertising salesman) and Nicole (a photographer). On 4 May 2004, she would lose Hollmann (73) to cancer after a happy marriage of more than 47 years.[4][26]

After 57 Years Daub Reveals What Actually Happened "Behind the Curtain"[edit]

Daub's disclosure, "Behind the Curtain," exactly as she wrote it in English:[28]

Behind the Curtain

In 2014, 57 years after my so very special year 1957, I want to tell for the first time what happened behind the curtain and why I wept:

After many days in Long Beach/California, which were filled with parades, elections and tasks, shows, presentations, cocktail parties and charity events; came the day of decision. The last election night. The Miss Universe pageant 1957.

Late in the evening five contestants made it to the grand finale: Miss Cuba, Miss Brazil, Miss Peru, Miss England and I. Miss Germany 1957, Gerti Daub from Hamburg. Up to this evening it was simply unbelievable what I had achieved in 1957. What I was allowed to experience. During the time in Long Beach I was considered absolute favorite for the title, because the public and press had seen me consistently ranked number one. Could my dream become reality? The big moment of the proclamation was imminent. The five of us waited behind the curtain on the stage. An assistant director, who had cared for us the last few days, came up to me and put me excitedly at 1st place and told me:

"You are our Miss Universe"!

Oh really? I could not believe it. He set all the others consecutively to the following places. We waited full of excitement, how it would go on. It took, time passed and it became restless. Something was in the air. Then, suddenly, it happened very quickly. The same assistant director came running and put me from the first to fifth place.

Five places back?

I could not classify what happened to me so unexpectedly; did not know what was happening. The tears came from fright. I tried to keep my countenance and suppressed the tears. Then already I heard the announcement: "Fourth runner-up is Miss Germany, Gerti Daub"! I had no time to pull myself together and had no chance to calm down a little. Instantly I had to go on the stage. As "fourth runner-up." To the last, the fifth place.

I was accompanied by a deafening "BOO, BOO, BOO the Judges." The hall was raging. I thought it was all about me. Now my tears could no longer be hold back. I felt humiliated by the jury. In front of all the lovely people in the audience who had believed in me.

In this situation, I felt very lonely and lost. Americas gossiper No. 1, Elsa Maxwell came on stage, hugged and comforted me: "Your title 'Miss Photogenic 1957 of the Universe' is much larger and more valuable! Because you have been on the podium as the most photogenic woman of the Universe, before this discord!" That did me very well. However, I now had only one wish: To go home.

During the election days I had participated with much courage and joy - and made it almost all the way to the top. On the first place. A few minutes before the crowning, I allowed myself to feel cautiously with violent palpitation, a possible win. It turned out differently. Looking back there is so much to be remembered and to be thankful. I had achieved more than I had ever dreamed! The people, not only in Long Beach, the television, the radio, the many telegrams and congratulations gave me so much love and comfort.

Thank you all heartily. I will never forget!

57 years later something special happened:

A witness of the Miss Universe pageant in Long Beach, wondered what "Gerti Daub" probably makes today? How does her life after the Miss Universe pageant look like? Thanks to the Internet, he found my website and wrote me an email in which he described his impressions of that time. He and his whole family had been following the Miss Universe pageant from start to finish. Even the grand finale. Like so many they expected, that I might win the title. As if it were yesterday, he recalls, they were stunned and upset when the announcement came and my name was called as the "fourth runner-up." Nevertheless he was only 13 years old, it was clear to him that something must have gone wrong. "No honest, objective juror could elect Gerti Daub earnestly behind the other contestants."

He convinced me to tell for the first time, what "happened behind the curtain."

Thank you Richard!


  1. ^ "Peru Girl Miss Universe, 2 Other Latins in Top 5". Long Beach Press Telegram (Home Edition). 20 July 1957. p. 1.
  2. ^ West, David; McEvily, Dan (21 May 1996). "The 1957 Miss Universe Pageant: Succes de Scandale". p. 1. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  3. ^ "Blonde Named Miss Germany". Los Angeles Times. 23 June 1958. p. 12.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Hollmann, Gerti (2014). "Gerti Daub Hollmann/Miss Germany 1957" (in German). Section: Miss Germany 1957. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  5. ^ "First Miss Universe Winners". Los Angeles Times. 17 July 1957. p. 3.
  6. ^ "Contest". Los Angeles Times. 17 July 1957. p. 4.
  7. ^ "Beauties Meet for Farewell Luncheon: Miss Universe Beauties Have Farewell Lunch". Los Angeles Times. 25 July 1957. p. 3.
  8. ^ "Fans of Germany's 'Blonde Venus' Hit Naming Her 5th". Los Angeles Herald-Express (Night Edition). 20 July 1957. p. A-1.
  9. ^ a b "Peruvian Beauty is Miss Universe". Austin Daily Herald. 20 July 1957. p. 1.
  10. ^ a b c "Latin Beauties Win After 1956 Revolt". Los Angeles Herald- Express (Night Final). 20 July 1957. p. A-4.
  11. ^ a b c "Miss Universe Dad Bars All Tours, Jobs". Los Angeles Herald-Express (Night Final). 20 July 1957. p. A-1.
  12. ^ a b c d "Miss Universe 1957 - Final Result & Crowning". seng12900. 19 July 1957. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  13. ^ a b c d "Miss Peru Named Miss Universe". Los Angeles Times. 20 July 1957. p. 3.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h "Miss Universe Dad Bars All Tours, Jobs". Los Angeles Herald-Express (Night Final). 20 July 1957. p. A-4.
  15. ^ "Fans of Germany Entrant in Protest". Los Angeles Herald-Express (Sports Latest News). 20 July 1957. p. A-1.
  16. ^ "Universe Staff Side-Steps 'New Expose'". The Salt Lake Tribune. 23 July 1957. p. 10.
  17. ^ "'Too Stern' Judges Make Her 'Shake in the Boots'". Los Angeles Herald-Express (Night Final). 20 July 1957. p. A-4.
  18. ^ a b c d e "Judges Answer Protests". Los Angeles Herald-Express (Night Final). 20 July 1957. p. A-4.
  19. ^ a b c "Peruvian Beauty Miss Universe Crown". Long Beach Independent. 20 July 1957. p. A-4.
  20. ^ "Peru Girl Miss Universe, 2 Other Latins in Top 5". Long Beach Press Telegram (Home). 20 July 1957. p. 2.
  21. ^ ""Miss Germany," Gerti Daub wipes a happy tear...". Los Angeles Herald-Express. 19 July 1957. p. B-1.
  22. ^ "New Miss Universe Keeps Crown". San Bernardino County Sun-Telegram. 21 July 1957. p. 1.
  23. ^ "Miss Universe Keeps Crown". The Abilene Reporter-News. 21 July 1957. p. 1.
  24. ^ "Most Beautiful Miss Universe 1952-2010". p. 8. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  25. ^ "Miss Peru Named Miss Universe". Los Angeles Times (9 a. m. Final). 20 July 1957. pp. 1, 3.
  26. ^ a b "Gerti Hollmann: I'm too young, to be old". Hamburger Adendblatt. 3 August 2013. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  27. ^ Hollmann, Gerti (2014). "Gerti Daub Hollmann/Miss Germany 1957" (in German). Section: The years 1957 and 1958. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  28. ^ Hollmann, Gerti (2014). "Gerti Daub Hollmann/Miss Germany 1957" (in German). Section: Miss Universe Choice. Retrieved 13 October 2014.

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