The first ever Miss Gibraltar contest was staged in 1959. It was organised by the Vox Newspaper. Won by Viola Abudarham, the first election of a Miss Gib took place at a dance organised at the CFCA hall situated at the southern end of Main Street.
Looking back, many will be shocked to learn that Gibraltar's first ever Miss Gibraltar was married at the time, since it was not until the show was revived in 1964 that the rules, as we know them today applied. In fact the reason for the absence of 4 years is ambiguous, some suggest it was due to lack of response by Gibraltarian girls, while others assure that no producer was willing to take on the challenge.
None the less, since 1964 the show has been staged uninterrupted for over 50 years. Revived by GBC, it was Roger Pike who produced and directed the show in '64 and '65. Both were held at the former television studios in Wellington Front. Later, as from 1967, the show was organised by the Gibraltar Tourist Office. Producers for four consecutive years were Sonia and Clive Golt. A number of producers followed, including names such as The Baron, John Artesani, Alex Britto and the late Eduardo Viotto and William Gomez. GBC Television has also taken on the production role on a number of occasions as has Film Exhibitors Ltd. More recently the show has often been produced by Stage One Productions as well as Santos Productions. In 2005 the responsibility for the Miss Gibraltar Office was given to the Ministry of Culture.
International acts to grace the show with their presence have included; Elaine Paige, Michael Bentine, pop stars Whigfield and Sean Maguire, Spanish guitarist Paco de Lucia, and Gibraltarian artists Albert Hammond and Melon Diesel .
However, so many years have also given their share of problems and even though the pageant has been staged annually since 1964 organisers have in the past found themselves on the brink of cancelling. In 1978, for example, with only days to go for the deadline, only three girls had signed on. Three more girls luckily signed on at the eleventh hour and the six contestants bravely took to the stage - because no matter what, the show must go on.
The 1981 competition was also riddled with problems when winner Yvette Bellido, resigned on her return from the Miss World Contest. After countless efforts for her to change her mind proved fruitless the crown was passed to 1st Princess, Pilar Ford. But just when problems seemed over, Pilar cut short a visit to Morocco, where she was representing the Rock at the Miss Nations contest, and returned home stepping down from Miss Gibraltar. The crown was then handed over to 2nd Princess Michelle Lara who went on to win the title of Miss Friendship at the 1982 Miss Europe Contest. She continued involved with the show up until 1988, coaching contestants.
The Miss Gibraltar contest continues to be the highlight of the local social calendar. The winner, as traditional, represents Gibraltar at the Miss World Beauty Pageant. It is part of our culture, our tradition and also a perfect platform at an international competition where the winner represents Gibraltar before a television audience of over one billion and reminds the world that she comes from "British Gibraltar."