Gladys Zender

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Gladys Zender
Gladys Rosa Zender Urbina

(1939-10-19) October 19, 1939 (age 80)
Height1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)[2]
TitleMiss Peru 1957
Miss Universe 1957
Beauty pageant titleholder
Hair colorBlack[2]
Eye colorBrown[2]
Miss Peru 1957
Miss Universe 1957

Gladys Rosa Zender de Meier (née Zender Urbina; born October 19, 1939) is a Peruvian model and beauty queen who became the first Latin American woman to win the Miss Universe title. She was crowned Miss Peru Universe 1957 by Miss Peru Universe 1956, Lola Sabogal Morzán.[3]

Miss Universe[edit]

Born to a Swiss father and a Peruvian mother, she won the title of Miss Universe 1957 in Long Beach, California, United States.

After being crowned, it was revealed that she was only 17 years old, a few months under the contest's minimum age requirement. Pageant officials decided that she could keep the crown after they were told she was considered to be 18 in Peru.[3] That same year, Miss USA, Mary Leona Gage, was stripped of her title and disqualified from the semifinals of the Miss Universe pageant after it was revealed she was a married mother of two children. Miss Argentina, Mónica Lamas, replaced her as one of the 15 semifinalists.

Return to Peru[edit]

Zender became an instant celebrity.[citation needed]

  • She flew on the inaugural flight from Idlewild International Airport in New York City, New York, to Limatambo Airport in Lima, Peru, where she was greeted by thousands of fans.
  • Caretas, one of Peru's most-popular newsmagazines, soon featured Zender on their cover. She was also later featured on that publication's first all-color cover.
  • In March 1958, she agreed to accompany the then sailor Juan Carlos de Borbon, who was on a 4 day stay in Lima during his time as a trainee aboard Spain's insignia ship, the Sebastian Elcano, to a couple of social events. He became King of Spain in 1975 and abdicated the crown to his son Felipe VI, in 2014.
  • The Peruvian composer Alicia Maguina wrote a song called "Polka a Gladys Zender" (Polka dedicated to Gladys Zender). It was also titled "La más hermosa" (The most beautiful) and was recorded by the Peruvian group Los Troveros Criollos.

Personal life[edit]

Zender married Antonio Meier in 1965, and secluded herself into a family life; they had four children together. Their son, Christian Meier, is a well-known actor and singer in Peru and has achieved some fame in other Latin American countries. In 2003, Zender allowed Caretas to photograph her (and Meier's) home showcasing various artifacts, including a collection of Incan art, the couple have acquired through their years together.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c "Peruvian beauty, new Miss Universe". Lodi News-Sentinel. United Press. July 20, 1957. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Whew! She's crowned, but it sure was work". The Montreal Gazette. Associated Press. July 22, 1957. Retrieved 18 April 2019.

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
United States Carol Morris
Miss Universe
Succeeded by
Colombia Luz Marina Zuluaga
Preceded by
Lola Sabogal
Miss Peru
Succeeded by
Beatriz Boluarte