By Julio Rodríguez Matute
WHAT WAS NEWS.-
And 1964 arrived, a convulsed year in which the United States officially decided to intervene in the Vietnam conflict. Before an alleged attack carried out by North Vietnamese ships on two American destroyers that were in the Gulf of Tonquin, President Lindon B. Johnson ordered bombings and asked Congress for authorization to intervene directly in Vietnam. The approval of Congress avoided the legal and political complications inherent in a formal declaration of war. In Panama, a serious international crisis is generated, when US troops open fire on Panamanian civilians in the Canal zone, whose objective was to claim the presence of the Panamanian flag in the territory administered by the US, an event that is remembered with the name of “Martyrs Day” which is celebrated every year on January 9th. In New York, plans to build the Twin Towers are announced and the play “Hello Dolly” is released, which later became a film and starred Barbra Streissand years later.
In an unprecedented event in history, the English band “The Beatles” reached the first four boxes of the American hit parade. The Beatlemania manifested itself in February with the arrival of “I want to hold your hand” to first place. In that same month, on day 4th, the Jamaican government issued three stamps in honor of Miss World Carole Joan Crawford with about 9 million impressions; the American probe Ranger 6 reached the Moon and Cassius Clay was crowned world heavyweight champion. In Cyprus a civil war broke out between Greek and Turkish residents. At the end of March, an earthquake of 9.2 Richter destroyed the city of Anchorage in Alaska. In the month of April, part of the bridge over Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela collapsed, when a super-tanker crashed into some pillars that supported the structure. That same month the “World Fair” opened in New York, the movie “From Russia with love” is released in the US and the company IBM presented the first computer model. In Africa the union between Rhodesia and Nyasaland is dissolved, while Tanganyika and Zanzibar join to form Tanzania.
In May, in Colombia, Manuel Marulanda founded the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and in Lima, Peru, after a football match against Argentina, the fanatics fought due to the referee’s decision leaving more than 300 dead. In June, in South Africa, the government sentenced Nelson Mandela to life imprisonment – leader of the African National Congress – in the Robben Island jail. The Palestinian General Congress approved the creation of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), after two days of sessions in Jerusalem. In the Vatican, Pope Paul VI condemns the contraceptive pill and in Venezuela, the government broke diplomatic and commercial relations with Cuba, accusing Fidel Castro of exporting the violent revolution. Rural guerrillas were fighting throughout the Venezuelan territory.
In July, the Civil Rights Act prohibiting racial segregation in schools, universities, workplaces and public places in the US caused the reappearance of the Ku Klux Klan. In England the rock band Pink Floyd was born and the London premiere of the movie “What a night that day!”, starring The Beatles, caused a gigantic traffic jam because the demand for tickets exceeded the offer of the three theaters where the tape was exhibited and thousands of frustrated young people crowded the streets. In some places there were even acts of violence. That same month actress Sandra Bullock was born in Virginia, USA, who years later starred in the movie “Miss Congeniality”; also in the United States the first lung transplant is performed.
In August, the Greek Kiriaki Tsopei won the Miss Universe crown in Miami Beach; Walt Disney’s movie “Mary Poppins” is released with Julie Andrews and in Venezuela the TV station “Venezuelan Television Channel” is inaugurated, which would later be known as “Venezolana de Television”. In September the war for independence began in Mozambique that would last 10 years while in October, Nikita Khrushchev resigned as leader of the Soviet Union. In Tokyo, Japan, the Olympic Games were held, and Judo was included for the first time as a sport; English designer Mary Quant created the Miniskirt and the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the American Martin Luther King.
ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGES IN MISS WORLD.-
While humanity lived all these events, in London, Eric Morley and his team decided to make some changes in the Miss World contest that year when it celebrated its 14th edition. Morley made some modifications in the rules of the contest, among which the one that prohibited the candidates from being accompanied by their mothers, due to what happened with Carole Joan Crawford’s mother the previous year, who canceled numerous presentations of the Caribbean beauty and made to lose thousands of pounds both to her daughter and to the organization. In addition, the Mecca Dancing company changed its name, became “Mecca Promotions LTD” and invested a fortune in the remodeling of the Lyceum Ballroom, transforming it into a much wider theater, with comfortable armchairs and beautiful decoration. In addition, Morley decided to invite 60 nations to join his contest because he wanted to match the record number of 60 contestants that had the North American Miss Universe event.
In Cyprus, the national beauty contest was canceled because of the civil war, and apparently, the “Eve’s Weekly Miss India” was also not held, so Morley made sure that 58 other nations sent their representatives. However, the first casualties were those of Miss NIGERIA (Martha Bassey) who had been elected the previous year and who had already reached the minimum age of 17 years. Her directors had no money to send her to the competition. Miss TAHITI (Lea Avaemai Vahine) was also excused and in the absence of the national contest, the representative of MALAYSIA (Leonie Foo Saw Pheng) who was hand-picked after winning a regional beauty contest, also gave up attending London. Both candidates canceled their participation due, possibly, to economic factors. With 55 countries that confirmed their presence, Morley would break the record for assistance to the Miss World contest so far.
THE SHAMMER ACHIEVED HER DREAM.-
After being expelled from the Miss World contest in 1963, the Englishwoman Lydia Davis learned that the Miss Gibraltar contest would be resumed in the British territory, which had not been held since 1959. Wounded in her pride after being disqualified by Morley, Davis packed her things and went to the rock located in southern Spain, where she entered the contest and in August she managed to win the crown of “Miss Gibraltar 1964” which gave her the official pass to the Miss World contest. Her dream came true!.
“NO MOTHER, NO GO”.-
On the other hand, “Miss Jamaica 1964”, Marie Elizabeth “Mitzie” Constantine, who was crowned in August by Miss World, Carole Joan Crawford, protested when local organizers told her she could not go to London with her mother due to the new contest rules and they suggested two possible chaperones with experience in beauty pageants. However, the Caribbean queen said “no mother, not go”. Given her refusal, the organizers called the first runner-up, Erica Joanne Cooke, who gladly agreed to be the representative of Jamaica in Miss World. Upon hearing this, Mitzie shouted and consulted her lawyer. Although Erica was willing to give up her position to Mitzie, it was already too late, because her registration had been formalized and she had been officially accepted by Morley. Mitzie had lived briefly in London in 1963 where she worked in a large supermarket packing groceries. Soon she resigned and returned to Jamaica due to the racial prejudices apparent at that time. Later she married in 1965 with the politician Edward Seaga, who years later would become Prime Minister of Jamaica.
On August 5th, the “Miss Turkey 1964” contest was held, winning Ayten Ornek, however, the second runner-up, Nurlan Coskun, made a media scandal by denouncing that the organizer had told her behind the scenes that she was the queen and that she would go to Miss World. The solution was to send Ornek to the Miss International contest in Long Beach and Coskun (who later adopted the surname San artistically), to London. However, who appeared in the Miss World program book as an official candidate was Ayten Ornek …
At the end of December 1963, the election of “Miss France 1964” was held at Orly airport, and the coveted title went to Miss Arlette Collot, 21, of Burgundy, who was crowned by Genevieve Mercier, Miss Paris 1963. Her reign lasted until early August when Collot refused to tour France. The organizers punished and dismissed her, naming in her place the first runner-up, Jacqueline Gayraud, Miss Vendée, who until today appears in the official records as Miss France of 1964.
A ROMANCE WITH BRUCE FORSYTH.-
On Tuesday, September 1st, the “Miss United Kingdom 1964” contest was held at the “Open Air Bath” stadium in Blackpool. The winner was Ann Sidney, a 20-year-old hairdresser, who had been second runner-up in the same contest the previous year. After her election, her alleged affair with British presenter Bruce Forsyth ran wild, who at that time was married to Penny Calvert. They met in the month of June of that same year, when Ann won the title of “Miss Front Page” of Bornemouth. Forsyth and Sidney dated on numerous occasions and after winning the title of Miss United Kingdom and returning by plane to her city, her family and the TV presenter were waiting for her at the airport and Bruce congratulated her with a kiss, which was photographed and published next day in the British tnewspapers. After this, the press spread the rumor of “affair” between them. Ann was very upset because the alleged romance could damage her participation in Miss World, to which Forsyth blamed himself for having gone to the airport to receive her. Forsyth’s photos and rumor with Ann Sidney caused his marriage to Penny Calvert, which was already fractured, to break down. Weeks later, Forsyth admitted being in love with Miss United Kingdom! However, that relationship did not prosper. Finally, Bruce married many years later (in 1983) with another former Miss World, Puerto Rican Wilnelia Merced.
THE STORY OF THE FIRST AND ONLY MISS MONTSERRAT IN MISS WORLD.-
Helen Joseph never won the Miss Montserrat Festival Queen competition. In fact she never competed. But she holds the distinction of being the only woman to represent Montserrat in an international beauty pageant. The story of how Joseph came to represent Montserrat in the competition is interesting. She was already residing in England and working as a model when she was approached about entering the contest. The only country she could logically represent was her native Montserrat, even though she left at a young age. There is no rule stating that a Miss World contestant has to have won a previous pageant representing her country. As long as she provides proof of her birthplace, meets the age requirement and is unmarried, she qualifies.
In December of 1963, Pamela Nanton (Arthurton) was crowned Miss Montserrat during the annual festival. The conventional progression should have meant that she would represent Montserrat in any regional or international pageant. It didn’t happen that way, but she has no regrets. “No one asked me to enter Miss World,” said Mrs. Arthurton, who now resides in Antigua and has run Carib-World Travel since 1973. “When Helen entered some people thought it was me because we’re both light-skinned and tall. I think it was one of those things where she was living in England and someone sponsored her. She was a very beautiful girl. I admired her and was proud that she represented Montserrat well.”
Helen Joseph was born Edith Iona Kirnon on April 27, 1942, at Glendon Hospital in Plymouth, Montserrat. Like many locals, she was given a “pet” name, as everyone called her Helen. The Kirnon family was based in Cudjoe Head Village in the north. Helen’s mother, Edith Augusta Kirnon, took Helen to live with her in Dominica at an early age. When Edith married carpenter Stephen Joseph, she not only changed her surname from Kirnon to Joseph, but Helen’s as well. The identity of Helen’s biological father is unknown.
The Joseph family migrated to England in January of 1955 when Helen was 12. They lived in Highbury, longtime site of the famed Arsenal Stadium in north London. As Helen matured she began to draw attention with her stunning beauty. Slender and fair-skinned with a gleaming smile, she fit the mold of what modeling agencies and talent scouts were seeking. She was encouraged to enter the Miss World contest.
Although she fell short in the pageant, she earned critical attention and was soon fielding movie and TV offers. She appeared in two movies: The Girl With a Pistol (1968) and Virgin Witch (1972). Both were small parts, but in Virgin Witch she had an extended scene in which she sang You Go Your Way, accompanied by piano in a lounge setting. She also had guest spots on several British TV shows, including Love Story (1967), Out of the Unknown (1969) and Doomwatch (1970).
In 1966 Helen was featured in a short British Pathé film at her north London flat. During the two-minute clip, which has no audio and has been uploaded to YouTube, she is seen feeding and playing with a pet fox. During her show business career she was billed as Helen Downing, the surname of her first husband. Virgin Witch turned out to be her final role as she settled into family life.Helen, who married three times, later relocated to Montserrat and built a home on the Kirnon family property near Rendezvous Bay. Due to health problems, she returned to England for treatment. She passed away on June 17, 2008 at age 66.
SOME DATA FROM OTHER COUNTRIES.-
In Finland, the organizers decided that the winner Sirpa Suosmaa would go to Miss Europe and Miss World, while the first runner-up, Sirpa Wallenius, would go to Miss Universe and the second runner-up, Maila Östring, to Miss International. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, the winner could not attend Miss World. The organizers then sent the second runner-up who was a finalist in the Miss International contest. In Ecuador, the rights of Miss World changed hands because the organizers of the Miss Ecuador did not send the Queen of 1963 to Miss World, they only sent her to Miss International. That is why María de Lourdes Anda Vallejo, who won the Queen of the Lions Club in Quito, was also designated as “Miss Ecuador 1964” on April 9, after triumphing at the Festival of the Queen of Spring in Trujillo, Peru , earning the right to represent her country in London.
On May 27, the “Miss Venezuela 1964” contest was held at the Paris Theater in Caracas, with the participation of 17 young ladies. As an interesting fact, for the first time in history, both the winner, Mercedes Revenga, and the first two runner-ups, Mercedes Hernández and Lisla Silva, managed to qualify as semifinalists in the Miss Universe, Miss World and Miss International in the same year, becoming in the best international figuration of that country from 1955 until that time. The Venezuelan representative to Miss World died on October 21, 2008, victim of cancer.
Jeannie Marie Quinn, Miss New York, won on Monday, August 31, the title of “Miss USA World 1964” at Cobo Hall (today TCF Center), of Detroit, Michigan, an event that featured 53 contestants from across the American Union. The finalists were Susan Marlin of Alaska, Jana Flores of Chicago, Susan Pill of Michigan and Susan Bye of Illinois. Jeannie had participated in Miss USA (for Miss Universe) in 1963 where she was a semifinalist and also managed to be the first runner-up in the “Miss American Beauty” of 1964, where the US representative was chosen for Miss International.
Mirka Sartori won the title of “Miss Italy 1964” on September 6 in Salsomaggiore, thus returning the rights of Miss World to the hands of the Italian director Enzo Mirigliani. In Holland, the winner of the national contest, Elly Tibina Koot, won the Miss Europe crown, therefore she could not go to Miss World. In her place went the second runner-up, Renske van den Berg. In Argentina no contest was held. Miss Ana María Soria was handpicked, perhaps because of her good placement at another international event the previous year. Ana María has been the only Argentine in history that has conquered two second places in two international competitions of first level. She achieved it first at the Miss United Nations in Palma de Mallorca in 1963, and then at Miss World of 1964. Her particular style on the catwalks led her to represent Argentina and the haute couture of her country at the International Fair of the Fashion held in Munich in 1966. Ana María was one of Argentina’s top models for three decades. She retired permanently in 1987 and devoted herself to painting and decoration. She married Mr. Héctor Grinberg and they had the twins Matías and Martín.
In Peru and Mexico, no contest was held, however, the directors of those countries had decided to select their representatives by hand, who, despite being on the official Miss World program as participants, did not arrive in London in the end. The identities of these two ladies are unknown.
THEY COMPETED IN OTHER BEAUTY COMPETITIONS.-
They had competed in Miss Universe of the same year: Miss Denmark, Miss Spain, Miss Belgium, Miss Canada and Miss New Zealand, none of them qualified in this event. From Miss International: Miss Finland (who was the 4th runner-up), Miss Holland and Miss Liberia. And from the second edition of Miss United Nations, in addition to Miss Spain, Miss Luxembourg and Miss Sweden also participated there. It should be noted that Miss Belgium also participated in Miss Europe 1964 and Miss International 1962 and Miss Austria in the Miss Europe of 1962. Miss Germany won the continental competition the following year while Miss Tunisia and Miss Iceland participated unsuccessfully in the Miss Universe and Miss International 1965 contests respectively.
ARRIVAL IN LONDON.-
The fourteenth edition of Miss World would be held in London from November 5 to 13, but, as was customary, some candidates began arriving in the British capital days before. Morley was very excited because on October 27 he offered a press conference to present the new and modern bus that would transport the candidates through the city, a vehicle with automatic door closing and security windows to provide proper protection to the visitors queens.
The first to arrive in London this time was Miss Iceland, who made her appearance at the London airport on October 30. Then Miss South Africa arrived, Vedra Karamitas, a 22-year-old ballet teacher from Benoni, descended from her plane helped with two walking sticks on Tuesday, November 3. The beauty told that she had back problems but that she hoped to continue with the treatment to be fully recovered by the day of the final. Curiously, since the contest began on the day of the Press Presentation, the young woman was never seen again with the sticks. Has she invented everything to get attention?. That same day two Asian candidates arrived, Miss Free China and Miss Korea. By the way, Miss Korea was presented with her stage name Eui-sook Yoon instead of her birth name (Mi-hee Yoon). Again, the Miss World applicants would stay at the famous Waldorf Hotel.
Morley received that day the notification that a new representative would join the contest for the first time, Miss Zambia, a country that was previously known as Northern Rhodesia and had won its independence from the United Kingdom that same year. Also that day, and when requesting flight details from their nations, he learned that Miss BRITISH GUIANA (Mary Rande Holl), Miss GRENADA (Christine Hughes), Miss PARAGUAY (Miriam Riart Brugada), Miss ST. VINCENT (Stella Hadley) and Miss TRINIDAD (Julia Merlene Laurence), who competed in Miss Universe, would not finally reach the contest, perhaps because of the cost of the air tickets. The Paraguayan lady had managed to be a semifinalist in Miami so the Paraguayans thought they would have the opportunity to obtain, if not the crown, an honorable position in Miss World with Miriam, but in the end the dream could not be fulfilled. The Trinidadian candidate had won months before the title of “Miss Caribbean” in Jamaica and it was right there when she and her companions from the British Guiana, St. Vincent and Grenada received Morley’s invitation from the Jamaican Miss World Carole Joan Crawford. Another one who gave up was Miss BARBADOS (Marvo Manning). All of them were published in the official Miss World Program Book. With these casualties, there were 50 contestants left on Morley’s list.
On Wednesday, November 4, five other candidates arrived, they were the representatives of New Zealand, Jamaica, Japan, France, Canada and the United States. Miss Jamaica was followed by the press due to the success of the Caribbean country in winning the previous edition. “I’ve certainly got something to follow up,” the tall, elegant girl said with a smile. Jeanne Quinn, 20-year-old Miss U.S.A. said she is hoping to meet the Beatles. The blonde student from Hofstra College, Long Island, New York, remarked on arriving: “It’s wonderful. No fog here. I expected to step right into a fog as soon as I got here.”
On Thursday the 5th, which was the official day of arrivals, a contingent of 26 beauties arrived in London. The Spanish María José Ulla Madronero drew attention when she got off the plane dressed in her typical Andalusian costume. Helen Joseph of Montserrat, who was already mentioned in a separate paragraph, flew from Paris, where she was modeling. She had lived in London for some time and had been a dancer and model for the past three years. Montserrat Prime Minister Mr. W. H. Bramble asked her to compete for the Miss World crown.
And instead of Miss Israel, her chaperone came down from her plane, Mrs. Deborah Lamir, who explained that her commanding officer had ruled that the army came first. Ophira Margalit, a dark-eyed lass of 18, was doing her national service in the Israeli army. She was working in the men’s division of the forces at that moment. A spokesman for the promoters of the Miss World contest said Israel will not be represented for the first time in 13 years. “It just does not make sense to me.” “We were officially told that Miss Ophira had been stopped from coming,” he said. “The previous girls have been working in the women’s army but this girl is working in the men’s division for some reason.”
Mrs. Deborah Lamir said: “The poor girl is terribly upset at the news. She was looking forward very much to visiting Britain and taking part in the Miss World competition. All her wardrobe was packed ready for the trip when her commanding officer decided that the army was more important than beauty contests.”
Miss Ophira – 34-24-34 – was a storekeeper with an infantry unit. She stood 5 feet, 6 inches tall, weighed 112 pounds, and had dark hair. Mrs. Lamir said, “Attempts are being made at the higher level of the army at present to get permission granted but it does not seem very hopeful.”
The Press-Courier newspaper published the following report:
“There was a picture of a pretty girl, and there was a story that went with it. The girl was supposed to compete in the Miss World contest, and indeed, from the way she looked in her abbreviated costume, she was entirely eligible for such competition. But alas, she was a soldier in the Israeli army, and her commanding general said she was ordered back in the commissary. No trip, no chance to be judged the most beautiful girl the Miss World contest could find. The general’s decision sounds authentically military, but we suspect the whole incident was planned to promote enlistments. Join the Israeli army and draw your field rations from the most beautiful girl in the world.”.
That same day, a group of candidates who had already arrived attended an invitation from the University of London where they attended a talk on the university grounds and another group visited the famous Wax Museum “Madame Tussauds”.
The Press Presentation was held on Friday, November 6, in the renovated Lyceum, but, this time, in the morning hours. There the 36 candidates that had arrived so far posed in one-piece swimsuits for the photographers. They were: Miss AUSTRIA (Dorli Victoria Lazek), Miss BELGIUM (Danièle Defrère), Miss BRAZIL (Maria Isabel de Avellar Elias), Miss CANADA (Mary Lou Farrell), Miss CEYLON (Marina Dellerene Swan), Miss COLOMBIA (Paulina Vargas Gilede), Miss DENMARK (Yvonne Mortensen), Miss ECUADOR (María de Lourdes Anda Vallejo), Miss FINLAND (Maila Maria Östring), Miss FRANCE (Jacqueline Gayraud), Miss FREE CHINA (Linda Lin Su-hsing); Miss GERMANY (Juliane Herm), Miss GIBRALTAR (Lydia Davis), Miss GREECE (Maria Kougioumitzaki), Miss HOLLAND (Renske van den Berg), Miss HONDURAS (Araceli Cano), Miss ICELAND (Rosa Einarsdóttir) Miss IRELAND (Mairead Cullen), Miss ITALY (Mirka Sartori), Miss JAMAICA (Erica Joanne Cooke), Miss JAPAN (Yoshiko Nakatani), Miss KOREA (Eui-sook Yoon); Miss LIBERIA (Norma Dorothy Davis), Miss LUXEMBOURG (Gabrielle Heyard), Miss MONTSERRAT (Helen Joseph), Miss MOROCCO (Leila Gourmala), Miss NEW ZEALAND (Lyndal Ursula Cruikshank), Miss NICARAGUA (Sandra Correa), Miss PORTUGAL (Rolanda Campos ), Miss SOUTH AFRICA (Vedra Karamitas), Miss SPAIN (María José Ulla Madronero), Miss SURINAM (Norma Dorothy Chin Ten Fung), Miss SWEDEN (Agneta Malmgren), Miss UNITED KINGDOM (Ann Sidney), Miss UNITED STATES (Jeanne Marie Quinn) and Miss VENEZUELA (Mercedes Hernández Nieves).
The first favorites of the press began to appear. They were the representatives of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Sweden and Austria. Hours later, Miss TUNISIA (Dolly Allouche) arrived but too late for the presentation. That day Morley was informed of another casualty in the contest: Miss Jordan (Vera Jalil Khamis) 22 years of age, who would not appear due to unforeseen circumstances, according to her director, hotel entrepreneur Amman Nazzal, who added that he had no candidate to replace her. The official spokeswoman for the contest, Miss Jean Gibbons had gone to the Jordanian consulate but they had no information about it. In the evening, the contestants attended the welcome dinner offered by the Air France airline at its facilities on Bond Street. Also that day, the 1963 Miss World, Carole Joan Crawford, departed from Jamaica on a Pan American Airways flight to New York, the first stop before continuing to London to crown her successor.
On Saturday, November 7, the participants had a city tour and took the opportunity to go shopping on Oxford Street, where they attended a reception in a well-known shopping center. At night they attended a special dinner at the restaurant “Baron of Beef” and after dinning, they were invited to try their luck with a Bingo card, a game that had already become very popular in the United Kingdom and that was precisely introduced by Mecca in 1961. The winner of the game was Miss Ecuador !!. On Sunday the 8th they went to rehearsals at the Lyceum and in the evening they attended an elegant dinner at the Duke of Bedford’s Mansion in Woburn Abbey. Miss URUGUAY (Alicia Elena Gómez) and Miss ARUBA (Regina Croes) arrived during the weekend. The organizers were expecting the arrival of Miss ARGENTINA (Ana María Soria) on Sunday afternoon but she did not arrive as expected.
CONTESTANT DISSAPEARED AND THE INTERPOL SEARCHED FOR HER.-
The organizers of Miss World were worried about Miss BOLIVIA (Sonia Marino Cárdenas), a 24-year-old student from La Paz who left her country on Wednesday night on a connecting flight to Paris and who had to arrive in London on Thursday, November 5. According to Miss World press chief Bryan Gee, Miss Bolivia’s departure from her country had been confirmed but nothing was known about her since then. When she was missing, early on Monday, November 9, they asked INTERPOL for help in locating the girl, fearing she could have been kidnapped. 24 hours after intense search, the young woman was found in Paris, where she was studying Fashion Design. The Bolivian beauty told the media that she had no intention of entering the Miss World contest, that her entry into the contest had been a mistake in the first place. She commented that she had known, to her surprise, that friends in Bolivia had sent her picture to a Miss Bolivia contest and that she had been chosen to represent her country. “A month ago I received a letter from Bolivia announcing that the boys from the Youth Club that I used to frequent when I returned to my country had chosen me as a representative of our country in London for the Miss World competition,” she said. “I sent a letter immediately to reject the honor that is too big for me,” she added. However, that letter never reached its destination.
On Monday, November 9, the candidates had their usual visit to the House of Commons, where they had lunch with the parliamentarians and witnessed that day the abolition of the death penalty promulgated by parliament on that memorable occasion, proclamation that was cheered by the beauty queens from around the world. During the visit to Parliament, Miss Montserrat confessed that she was married and that she had a two-year-old son, the only lady in the group that year. Although Morley had changed the rules in 1963 where the participation of married ladies was forbidden, he apparently did not give importance to this embarrassing statement by Miss Montserrat that could well cause her disqualification. That day, Jamaican Carole Joan Crawford, Miss World 1963, Miss TURKEY (Nurlan Coskun) and Miss ARGENTINA (Ana María Soria) arrived in London. The Argentinian had lost her connecting flight in the French capital the day before. Other expected candidates such as Miss ZAMBIA (Henrietta Monteiro), Miss CURACAO (Alice Weber) and Miss CHILE (Nora Pallarés) canceled their participation at the last minute. On the other hand, although representatives of Peru and Mexico had been expected, they never arrived and their identities were not known. That night, the contestants attended a dance dinner at a well-known nightclub in the English capital.
On Tuesday, November 10, the annual lunch offered by the Variety Club of Great Britain was held at the Savoy Hotel, where the contestants, dressed in their national costumes, brought their typical gifts to present them to the Mayor of London, Sir Alderman Clement James Harman, as tokens of international friendship. The gifts would go to charities for children. This activity was attended by 40 participants, as Miss Ireland did not attend because she was in bed due to a strong flu. The contestants were received by the Chief of the Defense Staff, British Navy officer and Earl of Burma, Louis Mountbatten. The gala, organized by the Variety Club, collected checks with the amount of 33 thousand pounds that would be destined to “Save the Children”.
A Belfast bookmaker who runs an annual book on the contest, made six of the girls joint favorites to win Thursday at odds of 14-1. They were Miss Brazil, Miss Germany, Miss Italy, Miss Sweden, Miss United Kingdom and Miss United States.
TWO MORE DELAYED, ONLY ONE OF THEM MADE IT.-
On Wednesday the 11th, the contestants were taken in groups to the beauty salon “La Belle” in Aldwych, sponsors of the contest, to put their hair ready for the contest. The press chief said “They’re all fit and raring to go.” At night, they attended Lyceum for the general rehearsal. A beautiful painting received them in the theater foyer. It was one of Miss World 1963 Jamaica’s Carol Joan Crawford that was going to be the first thing that people arriving at this year’s Miss World contest would see. The painting, two-thirds life size, has been done by Elma Yates Clarke, an Englishwoman who has visited Jamaica many times, the last one in 1957. She has done the painting as an unsolicited gift to the Jamaican Government and it was going to be sent to Jamaica after the contest. After a week of assorted alarms, the beauty parade was complete with the arrival of Miss LEBANON (Nana Barakat), 19-year-old Beirut television announcer Nana Barakat. She was delayed in Geneva the night before when fog closed London Airport. The young woman was saved from being disqualified by arriving on time for the last rehearsal of the finals. The same fate did not happen to Miss MALTA (S. Karma), a 20-year-old student, who intended to arrive at about 3:30 p.m. Thursday, the same day of the election, according to a cable received from the Mediterranean island . “I’m afraid it’s too late,” said Mr. Gee, press officer of the contest.
A NAGGING MORLEY.-
Morley, with his usual character, shouted at the candidates who were “lost” in the rehearsal, because they had to concentrate on their work to get a good show. In a rehearsal break, Morley presented to each of the 42 participants a small silver balloon in a velvet box as a souvenir of the contest. After this, the girls rehearsed much more lively! As the girls rehearsed, the tension increased. But there were no tingling or nervous attacks. A sign of the friendship that prevailed was the box of chocolates that the competitors gave to Miss New Zealand, Lyndal Cruickshank, a kindergarten teacher who turned 22 that day.
DISMISSED QUEEN MADE A COMPLAIN.-
There was a problem when Arlette Collot, 22, wrote to the organizers claiming she was Miss France. But the participation of Jacqueline Gayraud, 18, had been confirmed. Mr. Gee of Miss World commented that “Miss Collot said in her letter that there was some concern in France for not having her as the chosen one (for Miss World). But we can’t take that into account. We have to accept the girl sent by the French organizers”. It was previously understood that, although Miss Collot won the title of Miss France, she was excluded from the Miss World contest when she refused to participate in a tour of her country. Jacqueline Gayraud, the first runner-up, took her place, however, Collot decided to sue the French committee that elected her for $ 25,000. Miss Collot said she was denied the opportunity to participate in the Miss World contest due to the committee’s decision to replace her .
One of the European candidates was determined to cause a stir from the moment she set foot in London. It turns out that the aforementioned lady had a brother who was a journalist in her country and whom she called to give gossip about the contest, some real and others invented. She complained about the food, the chaperones, the hotel and anything else, to entertain the readers of the newspaper where her brother worked. Still, on the final night of the contest, she was determined to cause a sensation. For the parade of nations, the young woman had put on a jacket that combined with her evening dress, which caused suspicion to the chief of chaperones, Jean Gibbons, since all the girls wore gowns with bare arms. Gibbons asked the lady to take off her jacket to inspect it. At first she refused to do so but after an argument with the chaperone, she agreed to take off her jacket, showing a “topless” suit with her beautiful bossom completely exposed. Obviously, the candidate wanted to take off her jacket in the middle of her parade in evening gown and show her breasts to the judges! These types of dresses were beginning to be a boom in European fashion in those days. Gibbons forced her to change her dress, but she said she didn’t have other. However, one of the chaperones said she had seen another gown in the contestant’s room, so she ran to look for it. It took her seven minutes to run from Lyceum to Waldorf and return with the dress. Once the chaperone arrived with the second dress, she was asked to change, but the “Miss Rebel” did not want because her shoes did not match that gown. But she hadn’t noticed that the smart chaperone had brought in a paper bag the shoes that matched that dress. Still, the girl refused to change. Gibbons threatened to tell her that if she wasn’t ready in two minutes she would be disqualified. The girl was changed just in time before starting her parade in evening gown…
The night of Thursday, November 12 would be that of the grand finale of the “Miss World 1964” contest. Finally, 42 representatives from all over the planet would participate, with the debut of Aruba and Montserrat and the return of Honduras and Morocco. As it was traditional, at 7:15 pm the doors of the Lyceum were opened to the public and at 7:55, Joe Loss and his orchestra gave the official overture of the event. After the fanfare of the trumpeters of Kneller Hall, the British National Anthem was sung. After this, Mr. Don McCallion, manager of the Lyceum, introduced Eric Morley, who after a few words of welcome, told the grief for the death of his friend, the editor of the extint Sunday Dispatch, Mr. Charles Eade (died in the night of August 27, 1964 at age 61), who for many years, including the previous one, had been Chairman of the Judges. After condolences to his family and friends, Morley proceeded to introduce the 9 members that made up the panel of judges (one of them replaced at the last minute the painter Vasco Lazzolo who did not appear). They were:
1- The renowned stylist Vidal Sassoon.
2- The Canadian singer Paul Anka.
3- Lady Sonia Elizabeth Melchett from the British Socialité.
4- American actor Tab Hunter.
5- The Russian-British theatrical entrepreneur Bernard Delfont, who was the Chairman of the Judges.
6- Billy Butlin, British holiday camp businessman, born in South Africa.
7- Nicolette Elaine Katherine Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Marchioness of Londonderry.
8- The Irish fashion designer John Cavanagh.
9- And the British journalist Godfrey Herbert Winn.
As the Lyceum had been remodeled to offer a better theater appearance, the judges were located in front of the stage, divided into three tables.
Then the parade of “The Nations of the World” began, the procession of the 42 candidates dressed in their evening gowns and being presented one by one and in alphabetical order by Morley to take a place on stage, a presentation that the BBC recorded for the transmission an hour and a half later. Subsequently, they paraded individually in their gowns, divided into two groups of 21, the first from Argentina to Italy and the second from Jamaica to Venezuela, being presented by the Master of Ceremonies, Peter West. After a brief musical intermission by the Joe Loss orchestra, the participants began their parade in swimsuits, again divided into two groups and with the same tradition of the pages and the capes.
After a new musical break, at 9:40 p.m. the broadcast of BBC started with the presentation of Philip Lewis and comments by Michael Aspel, showing the parade of “The Nations of the World” that had been pre-recorded minutes before. The transmission lasted until shortly after 10:30 at night. The BBC went live and direct at the time the Master of Ceremonies, Peter West announced the name of the semifinalists. This time, there were not 15, nor 14 as the previous year, but 16, due to a tie in the fifteenth place.
The 16 semifinalists were: Miss ARGENTINA (Ana María Soria, 23, of Buenos Aires); Miss BRAZIL (Maria Isabel de Avellar Elias, 18, from Aracajú, Sergipe); Miss DENMARK (Yvonne Mortensen, 19, from Copenhagen); Miss FRANCE (Jacqueline Gayraud, 18, of Vendeé but resident in Paris); Miss FREE CHINA / TAIWAN (Linda Lin Su-hsing, 22, of Taichung); Miss GERMANY (Juliane Herm, 19, of Stuttgart); Miss GREECE (Maria Kougioumitzaki, 18, from Heraklion, island of Crete); Miss ITALY (Mirka Sartori, 20, of Valdobbiadene, Treviso); Miss JAMAICA (17-year-old Erica Joanne Cooke of Mona Heights, Kingston); Miss LIBERIA (Norma Dorothy Davis, 19, of Monrovia); Miss MONTSERRAT (22-year-old Helen Joseph, born in Plymouth but resident in England); Miss NEW ZEALAND (Lyndal Ursula Cruikshank, 22, of Invercargill); Miss SPAIN (María José Ulla Madronero, 19, of La Coruna); Miss UNITED KINGDOM (Ann Sidney, 20, of Poole, Dorset); Miss UNITED STATES (Jeanne Marie Quinn, 20, of East Meadow, New York); and Miss VENEZUELA (19-year-old Mercedes Hernández Nieves, from Caracas). The 16 semifinalists paraded once again in swimsuits individually and then in groups.
While the judges were deliberating, singer Gary Miller entertained the audience with the song “The way you look tonight.” After this, Peter West announced the name of the seven finalists. They were Miss ARGENTINA, Miss BRAZIL, Miss FREE CHINA, Miss ITALY, Miss JAMAICA, Miss NEW ZEALAND and Miss UNITED KINGDOM. There was some discontent in the audience due to the elimination of Miss United States, considered the girl with the most beautiful face in the contest. Michael Aspel interviewed the seven finalists individually and they posed once more together for the judges. West then proceeded to call on stage Carole Joan Crawford, beautifully dressed in white, who was interviewed by the Master of Ceremonies for several minutes while scrutineer Charles Jacobs tabulated the votes, then West asked Alan B. Fairley of Mecca to come to the proscenium to present the awards and Eric Morley to announce the results in reverse order, starting with fifth place. Meanwhile, the seven finalists waited anxiously behind the scenes. For the first time, BBC cameras were behind the scenes with the finalists. The result was as follows:
In fifth position, with a prize of £ 100, Miss NEW ZEALAND, Lyndal Ursula Cruikshank; in fourth place, Miss BRAZIL, Maria Isabel de Avellar Elias, who obtained £ 150; in the third, Miss FREE CHINA, Linda Lin Su-hsing, with £ 250. In second place and finalist of Miss World, winner of a check for £ 500, Miss ARGENTINA, Ana María Soria. All of them received a silver trophy in the shape of a globe and the first two finalists got tiaras on their heads.
Behind the scenes remained three candidates, Miss Italy, Miss Jamaica and Miss United Kingdom. Then Morley announced that MISS WORLD 1964 was … Miss UNITED KINGDOM !!! Ann Sidney came out tearful, descended the stairs with the Miss World sash on her chest, then she received on her shoulders the ermine cloak from one of the pages and was crowned at the bottom of the stairs by the outgoing Miss World, Carole Joan Crawford, who had to climb one of the steps to crown her. She immediately received the trophy from Alan B. Fairley and another of the pages replaced it with the royal scepter. After taking her triumphant walk, which was accompanied with the traditional Miss World march by Joe Loss and his orchestra, the beautiful Ann sat on her throne, already placed at the end of the stairs of the stage and posed for photographers surrounded by her runner-ups. Ann Sidney, was a hairdresser and part-time model of 20 years of age, was 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighed 132 pounds and her anatomical measurements were 36-24-36. The brand new Miss World, the second from the United Kingdom in four years, won, in addition to the crown, sash and silver trophy, a check for 2500 pounds sterling and a film test with the Columbia Pictures, as well as perspectives of a year of travel and modeling, as well as job offers all over the world. It was also known that the new Miss World was offered a contract with the Bluebell Girls in Paris.
After the contest, the Coronation Ball was held at the Café de Paris and where Miss Italy, Mirka Sartori, was given her cash award of 50 pounds sterling from her sixth place, and Miss Jamaica, Erica Cooke who won 25 pounds for her seventh place. The sculptural British brunette danced until dawn to celebrate her coronation as Miss World of 1964. “The girls were wonderful. There were no bad feelings”, said Ann with green eyes and brown hair. At the end of the night, Ann realized that she hadn’t called her parents, so she tried to call them from a phone booth in the lobby, but her phone was permanently busy. She finally managed to talk to them around two in the morning when she returned to her room. The next morning, the brand new Miss World received the press in her Waldorf room with her roommate, Miss New Zealand.
The annual pageant at the Lyceum Ballroom in London generally produces considerable disputes among the contestants, but this was one of the most educated beauty pageants in years. A tear was not shed, a tantrum was not thrown after the winner was crowned. “All the girls have been very happy,” said Miss Brazil, who was pleased to win fourth place. “All the girls have been good friends.” However, American promoter Alfred Patricelli – the man who brought Miss U.S.A. to London for the contest – accused the British judges of bias. “British juries are prejudiced against American girls,” Patricelli said. “In 14 contests there hasn’t been an American winner. I’m going to press for an international judging panel.” The BBC said later that viewers called to protest the non-inclusion of the USA, Italy and France in the 5 finalists. After returning to their countries, some contestants gave statements to the media. Miss Dominion of Canada, Mary Lou Farrell of St. John, Newfoundland, said she was the most unpopular contestant in London because of her stance against the Queen of England’s visit to Canada. By the way, she was taken from the group photos and a graphic reporter told her that he excluded her because she didn’t want the Queen in her country. The following year, the Canadian girl represented her country, unsuccessfully, in Miss International. And Miss Spain, María José Ulla Madronero, commented in her land that the result of the contest had been unfair and that she had not won Miss World because she got sick after the dinner she had been given in the contest the previous night. According to the Spanish, half of the contestants had gotten sick to the stomach, which Morley categorically denied. According to market studies, the broadcast of the contest on the BBC had an audience of 27.2 million people in the United Kingdom, three times more than the previous year!.
A PROBLEM WITH MORLEY.-
According to Eric Morley, Ann Sidney fulfilled her duties and obligations as Miss World in a formidable way, which left him very satisfied. Ann signed a contract with the company “International Wool Secretariat” for more than 12 thousand pounds, in addition to publicity and personal appearances that made her earn around 30 thousand pounds during her reign year. After winning the Miss World title, Ann approached the offices of Morley to ask him to manage her during the year and for which, Morley would charge 25% for being her manager. Ann and her father (because she was under 21) signed the contract, which stipulated Mecca’s option to continue managing her for two more years after finishing her reign. In October 1965, Morley wrote to Ann informing her that he wanted to take the option to continue managing her until November 1967. After crowning her successor, Ann informed Morley that she wanted to become an actress and that Mecca was not the right company to manage her in that field, so she had decided to end the contract. Although Morley did not undo the contract, Ann decided not to do any of the activities programmed by Mecca and decided to enter the world of acting. At that time, Ann wanted to do pantomimes, but there wasn’t much work in that field. Then she did cabaret shows in several cities in northern England. Ann refused to continue paying the 25% commission even though her contract with Morley was still valid. The discussions lasted for months until Morley decided to forget the matter despite feeling hurt by Sidney’s attitude.
BIOGRAPHY OF ANN SIDNEY.-
Ann Sidney was born in England on March 27, 1944 in the middle of the world war. Her father was George Sidney, who worked selling meat and her mother, Gladys, who was a waitress. The Sydneys moved to Kent Road in Poole, Dorset, when Ann was very young, she was only 5 years old. She lived with her parents and had a brother. She went to Martin Road School in Parkstone and then to Martin Kemp-Welch High School, which later became St Aldhelm Academy, leaving school at the age of 15. At that age she competed in her first beauty pageant. It was the contest “Bournemouth Regatta Queen” held in Bournemouth Gardens and she won it thanks to the applause of the public. After leaving school she took a hairdressing course, working in salons in Bournemouth, but then decided that she would rather be a model. She participated for the first time in the Miss United Kingdom in 1963 using the name of Sylvia Sidney where she was the second runner-up. She entered the Miss United Kingdom in 1964 by qualifying at a preliminary event in Manchester about 100 miles from Poole, after giving the address of a friend who lived there. She met Bruce Forsyth in Bornemouth in June 1964, with whom she was rumored had an affair before winning the Miss United Kingdom title on September 1st of that year. In that event, Jennifer Warren Gurley qualified in second place although she had won Ann previously in the Miss Manchester heats. (Interestingly, the following year, Ann crowned Jennifer as Miss England 1965). Ann won Miss World 1964 on November 12, becoming the second British to hold the crown. “Before this, my travel experience was to go to the Isle of Wight with my bicycle. I did not expect to win; I was destined to start a new job in a hairdressing salon at the John Lewis department store on Monday after the competition. The first thought that went through my mind was: ‘I better call John Lewis and tell them that I will not go to work’ “. On November 19 she returned for a few days to her home in Poole.
The Evening Echo newspaper reported on the scene Miss World received on her return home. “Cheering crowds gathered around the courtyard of Poole Station and overflowed across the bridge when Miss World, Parkstone’s own Ann Sidney, got off a train from London this morning to a welcome civic party,” it said. Ann recalled: “It was great to come back, especially for my mom and dad because they were with me.” “When I arrived at the Poole station, I saw the number of people who came. Some of them, the dear old ladies who are probably no longer with us, who came out to meet me with their best coats”. Ann was greeted with a bouquet of yellow roses from the council’s parks department, which was given to her by children Lindsay Arney and Rodney Hannan. A 1909 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost from Lord Montagu’s museum would take her to tour the city, with neighbors who accompanied her to pat her on the back or shake hands. She stood in the back of the car while the mayor, Tom Sherrin, placed her Miss World crown on her head. That night, she was received at a gala dinner at the Poole Civic Center. Eleven-year-old trumpeter Nigel Hopkins of Petit Road, Moordown, announced her arrival and played cabaret after dinner. The dinner guests received a souvenir menu with the image of Miss World of Ann on the cover, and inside, a poem about her composed by Mr. W Lawrence of the Zebra Catering Ltd. Outside, the crowds became impatient when Ann appeared on the balcony of the Municipal Buildings. “
Days later she traveled the world and did it five times. She accompanied Bob Hope on his tour of Southeast Asia in December of that year, entertaining American troops stationed in Vietnam. Ann enjoyed her reign, experienced seeing Europe in style and had dinner with celebrities. “I remember going to Maxim’s restaurant in Paris and meeting Aristotle Onassis and Maria Callas. They sent a very expensive bottle of champagne to our table … somehow, I accepted the challenge. As the saying goes “Nothing is more successful than success.” However, fame had its negative side. Ann remembers going to her parents’ house in Parkstone, desperate for a few quiet days, only to discover a list of friends and family queuing to meet her. “Mom and dad were not only proud, but they were very sweet people who wanted to please everyone, they often put me in things that I really didn’t want to do in my spare time. Sometimes, I just wanted to stay home with them, take off my shoes and chat, just be me. Mom looked at me with my jeans and a careless sweater and said: “You can’t go out looking like this!” I said: “Mom, what do you want me to do, put on the crown? And then, of course, she laughed.”
She celebrated her 21 years twice. First in Australia and then in San Francisco. This is because she crossed the world dateline, so she celebrated with cake and champagne twice on the same day! In November 1965 she attended the election of Miss World where she crowned her successor. After relinquishing the title, Sidney had many acting roles on television, including “The Avengers” and “Are You Being Served?”, And in films, such as spy thriller “Sebastian” (1968) with Dirk Bogarde and Susannah York, and the cult film by Nicolas Roeg “Performance” (1970) with James Fox and Mick Jagger, in addition to forming a cabaret tour. In 1967, she appeared in the West End play “Not Now, Darling,” alongside Donald Sinden and Bernard Cribbins. Sidney has appeared in numerous musicals such as “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris” and in the role of Maria von Trapp in “Sound of Music”. She also appeared in several Christmas pantomimes in the United Kingdom, as Prince Charming in “Cinderella” with Brian Conley and Dick in “Dick Whittington” with Les Dawson.
In the early seventies Ann emigrated to Australia where she fell in love with Australian actor Rod McLennan, with whom she married on December 22, 1970 in Melbourne, a union that only lasted a little more than a year due to the immaturity of both. She was willing to leave the acting career to devote herself to being a housewife, but finances didn’t help and she had to work, so the marriage ended in failure. They divorced on October 5th, 1972. That year, she appeared in the comedy series “Birds In The Bush”. From Australia she went to the United States where she fell in love again, this time with an American artist, whom she married immediately, but their relationship lasted only two weeks, the man disappeared from her life without a trace. Ann lamented having fallen in love with men who had no money, who made her splurge part of the 30 thousand pounds earned during her reign year in two failed marriages. As a consolation prize, by marrying an American she obtained nationality so she could stay in the US working. Ann decided to change her image. She became blonde and had a nose job that unfortunately left a scar. She subsequently sued the surgeons. Her father remembered that as a child, she never believed in having a pretty nose, but he told her that what God had given her was more than enough. In the USA Ann got a lucrative contract with Columbia to star in her own television show called “Around Town with Ann Sidney” but unfortunately the program only lasted 4 months because the channel changed hands. Ann, who lost about US $ 9,000 because of the cancellation of the program, sued the channel, but only got them to recognize her $ 2,000. “It’s part of the ups and downs of the entertainment world. You never know what you’ll find around the corner,” Ann said.
Then, the ex-Miss World returned to London to try her luck again, but she was tagged as a beauty queen and she didn’t want that, it was a label she wanted to leave in the past. “I wanted to prove that I had much more to offer”. She even thought about changing her name so that people wouldn’t recognize her and start from zero. A theater producer offered to do a topless show, but she refused. “If I didn’t do it in Las Vegas, why would I do it here in London?” Later, Ann joined the artist Penny France, with whom she made a musical show of singing and dancing that went around the world. In 1975 she attended as a guest at the celebration of the 25 years of the Miss World contest and danced during the opening of the show. She later co-hosted an Australian version of the game show, “The Better Sex” in 1978. She returned to the US and spent six years there as a lead singer at the MGM Grand Las Vegas. At 45, she got her first “real job,” in hospitality, at the 3,044-room Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas. “It was the best thing I’ve ever done. I didn’t realize how many skills I had to deal with people,” she said. She attended again the Miss World contests held in Sanya, China in 2005 and 2010, both as a judge. In 2005, Sydney married “West End” producer Duncan Weldon. “Although I would have liked to have had children, I do not regret not having had any. I am quite satisfied. I would have to have someone who could afford to keep me out of work.” She added: “If I had not been a beauty queen, I would have been a registered member of the feminist group. I do not fit into the old gender-specific roles.” “My life changed completely. It was something temporary and superficial, not a race, it was simply a springboard for me. But it was a great education, it made my brain stronger and more powerful.” “I may not have had a great success of fame, but that doesn’t bother me, because I had it once in my life.” Ann wrote an autobiographical book titled “Surviving Miss World.” Widowed on January 30, 2019.
HER STORY WITH BRUCE FORSYTH.-
It could have been a scene from an Ealing comedy. Under cover of darkness, ‘Fred Nurg’ snuck out of his lover’s small flat in Putney, South London, draped in a scarf and trilby, a raincoat masking his long frame. Then a lone voice shattered the still night air: ‘Come off it, Brucie – we know it’s you. You’re not fooling anyone!’ For rising television star Bruce Forsyth, caught leaving the home of his young lover, a beauty queen, the moment was not merely embarrassing but potentially career-ending. Because this was the early 1960s, a different era, and 35-year-old Bruce, already a household name, was married with children. The faintest whiff of impropriety would have been devastating – hence the absurd name and heavy disguise. ‘It would almost have been comical had it not been so dangerous,’ Ann Sidney recalls today. ‘Bruce told me his marriage was over and I had no reason to doubt him but he had three children and was not divorced. Back then a scandal would have totally destroyed him – and me.’ It is barely more than a couple of years since Sir Bruce Forsyth passed away at the age of 89 and Ann, a former Miss World, is struggling to hold back her tears as she remembers the man she describes, simply, as her first great love. Bruce, too, was very much in love, as he later acknowledged in his autobiography – and there never was a scandal. Yet even so, their love affair was doomed. ‘It was the sneaking around and subterfuge which got to me,’ Ann says, sadly. ‘I couldn’t lie any more. The relationship had to end. He was a good man with a kind heart. I loved him but I couldn’t live like that.’ When news of his death was announced she was – still is – devastated. She adored him to the end.
It was 1964 when the two first met at a beauty pageant in Bournemouth. Ann was just 19, a trainee hairdresser, who had entered the competition for a lark. Bruce, working Bournemouth’s summer season as the headline act in the Winter Gardens, was a judge. Already established as the host of ITV’s Sunday Night At The London Palladium, he was on the cusp of stardom, just a few years from his real breakthrough presenting The Generation Game, a show which established him as a fixture in the nation’s living rooms. But there was a problem – he was still married to Penny Calvert, a former dancer, and mother to his three daughters. Ann, now 76, says she knew this would present problems from the outset. Today, she remains strikingly attractive and prides herself on maintaining the same slim physique from those early pageant days. As she sips tea in the Beverly Hills home of a friend, her accent is still unmistakably English, despite three decades in the Californian sunshine.‘Feminism has changed the way people view beauty contests, calling them degrading to women,’ she muses. ‘Back then, they were seen as harmless entertainment for people who flocked to holiday resorts like Blackpool and Bournemouth and for a girl like me they offered a way out. I wanted to travel and be a dancer. ‘I was making £10 a week as a hairdresser but I could make £1,000 as the winner of a pageant.’
Bruce was instantly smitten by the pretty 5ft 9in brunette and whisked her off to a bistro when she won. ‘He was confident, worldly,’ Ann recalls. ‘Bruce was charming and very funny. I’d never been romanced like that.’ Flowers soon began arriving at the hair salon where she worked. ‘He would use fake names like Fred Nurg or Charles Forthright, but the other girls knew who they were from.’ Bruce rather gave the game away, in fact, by driving past the salon in his Cadillac and waving.‘From the start, he told me his marriage was over but that it was “complicated”,’ she continues. ‘He would go on and on about Max Wall.’ Famous for his clown-like appearance and funny walks, Wall was a huge star in the 1950s. But when he left his wife and five children after falling in love with a Miss Great Britain 26 years his junior, Jennifer Chimes, his career was all-but destroyed. Publicly vilified, he suffered a nervous breakdown.‘Bruce was always terrified that would happen to him.’
Indeed, a scare in September 1964 nearly ended their relationship. Ann won the Miss United Kingdom pageant in Blackpool and a reckless Bruce welcomed her back to Bournemouth’s Hurn Airport with a butler in uniform and champagne on a tray.A freelance photographer sent pictures of the celebration to the London Evening Standard, which ran the headline: ‘Is there a romance between Palladium star and the new Miss United Kingdom?’ ‘I was utterly shamed and humiliated,’ Ann said. ‘We hadn’t yet become intimate and all hell broke loose.’ Bruce’s wife arrived the next day by train to confront her husband and Ann’s father demanded to know whether they were sleeping together, which Ann denied. Ever the gentleman, Ann says, Bruce turned up at the family home to explain himself.‘He apologised to my parents for dragging my name through the mud. He told my parents his marriage had been struggling for some time but that nothing untoward had happened with me. I hid in my room the whole time.‘It was very respectful. It made me feel more for him. I knew I was falling in love.’ It was inevitable that their relationship would intensify and, after Ann moved to a rented flat in Putney, South London, to prepare for the Miss World contest in November 1964, Bruce bombarded her with love notes, telegrams and flowers.‘Bruce was never short of girls, there were lots of showgirls. He was footloose and fancy free.‘But I think he liked me because I was young and innocent. We laughed all the time. He was hilarious in private, always cracking jokes, flirting, having fun. He was irresistible.’
Y dice ella, “un amante tierno y divertido”. Continuaron su aventura mientras ella viajaba como Miss Mundo. Obtuvo una pequeña fortuna, incluidas unas £30.000 del Secretariado Internacional de Lana para ser su portavoz global. Cuando estaba en Londres, Bruce se colaba en el apartamento de Ann con una serie de disfraces elaborados, incluido uno que él llamó “Columbo”, después del detective de televisión. “La noche en que uno de los vecinos lo reconoció fue una llamada de atención”, dice Ann. “Bruce se rió, pero ambos sabíamos lo cerca que habíamos estado de ser atrapados, lo que habría tenido consecuencias desastrosas”.
And, she says, a tender, funny lover. They continued their affair as she jetted around as Miss World. She earned a small fortune, including a £30,000 fee from the International Wool Secretariat to be their global spokeswoman. When she was in London, Bruce would sneak into Ann’s flat in a series of elaborate disguises including one he called ‘Columbo’, after the TV detective, complete with dirty rain mac and trilby.‘The night one of the neighbours recognised him was a wake-up call,’ says Ann. ‘Bruce laughed it off but we both knew how close we’d come to getting caught, which would have had disastrous consequences.’ The affair would last for 18 months but the circumstances were tense – and Ann wanted more from her lover. In December 1965, she accompanied Bruce to South Africa, where he was appearing in a variety show. In his autobiography, Sir Bruce wrote of the trip: ‘It was reported she asked me… if I had any intention of marrying her and that I replied I wanted things to carry on just as they were. ‘It’s a long time ago now but I’m sure that’s not true. Ann knew I was having a hard time getting a divorce from Penny. She also knew, when I was free, it was very likely we would get married.’ Ann remembers it rather differently: ‘Being young and in love, like any girl, I’d hoped we would end up in a permanent relationship.’ But it was becoming harder to imagine that happening and Ann could no longer cope with the clandestine nature of their affair. The end came after Ann’s father intervened and called Bruce. ‘Dad told him I was in a bad way psychologically and that if he truly loved me he would stop the affair. So he did.’ Devastated, Ann says she plunged into a deep depression.‘I’d stopped being Miss World, then the relationship ended. I was lost for a long time. It was tough,’ she says. Her career struggled, despite finding work as a singer and showgirl at the MGM casino in Las Vegas and stints in pantomime. There were occasional small acting roles in television shows.
Then, in 2005, she married West End producer Duncan Weldon, former artistic director of the Chichester Theatre, and the pair now divide their time between homes in LA, Chichester and London where Ann dedicated herself to writing her book, an account of her extraordinary life called “Surviving Miss World”. As for Bruce – she never heard from him again. Ann says she tried to contact him after his knighthood and sent him letters over the years, but to no avail. ‘He totally cut me off when we split. He moved on. That’s how he was,’ she says.‘To be as singularly successful as someone like Bruce, you have to be able to focus and move on, both professionally and personally.‘When Bruce died, there were many stories written and so many untruths about our relationship.‘I want to be able to tell the truth about what happened but I don’t want to hurt or disrespect anybody.’
She praises Bruce’s widow, Wilnelia, also a former Miss World, as ‘a fantastic woman’ adding: ‘She was the perfect wife for him and clearly the love of his life. I would never wish to hurt her or any of his children.’ Yet there was one positive to emerge from their ill-fated relationship. In 1973, Bruce fell in love with hostess Anthea Redfern when they appeared together on The Generation Game and several years later, Ann met Anthea at a party.‘She was lovely and thanked me,’ says Ann. ‘She said Bruce had truly loved me and told her he deeply regretted sneaking around in the shadows with me.‘When Bruce and Anthea fell in love, he insisted on putting out a statement to the press, making it all public. He was still married to Penny but he finally got a divorce and married Anthea the same year. He never wanted to skulk in the shadows again.’ Learning of Sir Bruce’s death, Ann was hit by what she describes as a tidal wave of grief and emotion.‘We had a genuine love for each other and I never stopped loving him. When you have a love like that, it never leaves your heart.‘He was a wonderful man who helped shape and change my life. And what a life he had.‘I shall forever be grateful for his love. And I shall never forget him.’
ENDED IN JAIL.
In mid-December 1971, Jacqueline Gayraud, Miss France 1964, went to jail, after being accused of being an accomplice of Charles Lascorz, a businessman who in turn had been accused of fraud, blackmail and assaults. Gayraud had been hired as a secretary and then became the manager of ETEC, an entity created by Lascorz, who worked in politics and the government environment making illegal transactions. When the irregularities were discovered by one of his collaborators, he threatened Lascorz to report him to the police, and Lascorz caused him physical injuries in front of Gayraud. After this, Lascorz fled from France and his partners, with Miss France included, went to prison …
Thanks to Donald West, Daryl Schabinger, Caroline Graham (The Mail On Sunday), Stefan Hoven Lieuw Choy and Glamour Argentino.