Miss Universe 1929 Lisl Goldarbeiter – The first ever Non-American winner from Austria

02 Jan 2018 | Camilla Suarez

Lisl Goldarbeiter came into the world of pageantry when this industry was not well-known among the people of the world. The decades of the 1920s and 1930s were overshadowed by world wars and global crisis, thus, making it difficult for us to trace the rich history of pageantry during that time.

Miss Universe 1929 Lisl Goldarbeiter had an eventful life which is not known to many. Lisl was discovered by her cousin Marci Tenczer who was an amateur filmmaker. Born in 1909, she belonged to the Austrian branch of a large Jewish family in Austria-Hungary. Her cousin lived in Szeged and formed the Hungarian branch. Marci played a very important role in making his cousin world famous. He loved Lisl immensely and waited for her even when she married Fritz Spielmann, heir to a silk necktie fortune in Vienna.

 In 1929, Lisl won Miss Austria 1929 finishing ahead of 600 other contestants.  She finished second at the Miss Europe beauty contest in Paris, where the first Hungarian beauty queen, Böske Simon won.

In the USA, Lisl was voted Miss Universe 1929 in a unanimous decision by the jury and thus started to receive numerous invitations to participate in the other beauty pageants. Her beauty and charm knew no bounds; she was invited to Hollywood to act in movies and her company was requested by major celebrities. As the reigning queen, she travelled extensively and rejected numerous marriage proposals.

Lisl’s happiness, though, was short-lived as Hitler’s Germany annexed Austria. Her husband fled without her and she barely escaped the concentration camp internment. Her father and the rest of her family, unfortunately, did not survive the holocaust.


Miss Universe 1929 Lisl Goldarbeiter – The first ever Non-American winner from Austria


In 1949, Lisl Goldarbeiter married Marci and they lived a happy married life before she passed away in 1997. She is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful beauty queens of all time. Her life was so fascinating that the filmmaker Péter Forgács turned the footage from Marci’s camera into a magical film ‘Miss Universe 1929 Lisl Goldarbeiter – A Queen in Wien.’ In his words, he expressed how their love story allured him, “In the last 20 years, I've discovered that old amateur films are unconscious diaries of life and history. These cinematic diaries tell us about things that are no longer accessible or tangible to us, and also show us the other side of official historiography. ... What interests me about amateur films is the magical element, the mystery of the pictures. I would not call her innocent, but naive. I am fascinated by the beauty of the pictures and the story behind them.”

Lisl Goldarbeiter lived one of the hardest lives, surviving through the blackest time in the world history. There is no denying the fact that she could have reached zeniths had she gotten a chance to work more in the pageant world.