"Our first Miss World (1958)" Top 5 Page for this destination South Africa Favorite Tip by mvtouring

South Africa General: 284 reviews and 229 photos

  Penny Rey-Coelen
by mvtouring

Favorite thing: Penelope Anne Coelen (born 1939, Durban, South Africa) was Miss World 1958.

In 1958, the Miss World Pageant was still in its early years. Its eighth pageant was a great success, attracting 22 contestants from Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa. Europeans dominated the semi-finals with 9 out of 12 places secured by women from the host continent. 5 of the 6 finalists were from Europe as well, but it was a striking young woman from the Republic of South Africa who took home the coveted crown.

Penelope Anne Coelen, or Penny to her friends and fans, was elected Miss World and was the first major international titleholder to come from Africa. The stunning 18-year-old secretary from Durban enraptured the audience with her poise and beauty. She gained widespread international attention during her reign and received several lucrative modeling offers. After her reign as Miss World 1958, she tried her luck out in Hollywood with the help of James Garner, but failed her screen test but managed to launch her own clothing and endorsed beauty products as well as perfumes. Later she returned to South Africa, married wealthy sugar cane famer Graeme Rey from the KwaZulu-Natal Province and she remains today a prominent socialite in South Africa, race-horse owner, and is infamous for her incredible pistol shot.

She swore that she would never go through the terror of competing again, noting that it was "too nerve-racking," yet that being a Miss World contestant and titleholder was "something I would not have liked to miss."

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Feb 14, 2007
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