An Overwhelming Evergreen Beauty Ann Sidney – Miss World 1964
A strikingly beautiful face and a charming aura would be few words to describe Miss World 1964, Ann Sidney’s splendour. Ann won the very prestigious Miss World crown in 1964, becoming the second British woman to achieve the feat. At the age of 19, Ann was not merely representing United Kingdom but also became the spokesperson of world biggest philanthropic organization, “Beauty with a Purpose” as the reigning Miss World.
Prior to winning Miss World, Ann initially took an apprenticeship in hairdressing and worked in salons in Bournemouth. With the passing time, Ann realized that she would rather be a model. She pursued her dreams with determination, courage and poise and then rest as we know is history!
During her reign as Miss World, she travelled around the world five times and joined Bob Hope on his USO tour of Asia. Ann later became a distinguished personality in United Kingdom as a TV Host and a British actress. Fortunately, I got a very wonderful occasion to interview the much esteemed personality, wherein she shared many unseen and veiled aspects of her life. I am sure her poised responses to the questions will leave you smiling in awe and approbation. Have a look!
- A British Actress, a TV host and a very celebrated Miss World! You have seen so much glory in your illustrious life, which phase you happened to enjoy the most? What was the unique feature of each phase?
Every aspect of my life has been unique and enjoyable. Born in England, just before the end of World War II, I grew up in a world of rationing – meager wages, and scant dreams. But I was plucky, or shall we say, I had my head in the clouds. I started hairdressing at 15; the salon entered me in a local beauty contest for publicity. After a surprise win, I got so much attention – it rather turned my young head. Later, I continued entering contests, much to my parent’s chagrin. They must have been worried where beauty contest may lead me. With no training, no stylist, no outside help, I miraculously won the Miss World contest in November of 1964.
- At first you took an apprenticeship in Hairdressing, working in salons in Bournemouth. How did this venture helped you to develop as an individual?
This was the beginning of the swinging 60’s, how unique can you get? I believed then as I do now that destiny is shaped by decisions. I wanted to see the world, and I did, all in luxurious first class. I was incredibly lucky. Being a trained hairdresser and manicurist was a plus. I was able to manage my fine hair, and look after my nails.
- You embarked on to the profession of modeling at quite a tender age. What challenges did you faced in your journey? How was the modeling experience different from the contemporary time?
I thrive on challenges. Everything that teaches you a skill is a blessing. Frankly, I was not much of a model. In the days of Twiggy, I had the wrong shape. That hasn’t changed much over the years. No matter how much they talk about using larger sized models, you still need to be small boned and flat chested. Couture clothes hang better that way.
- Your nation won the first Miss World crown in 1961 and three years later you became the second woman from United Kingdom to win the prestigious title. Did you face any pressure while competing?
I did not feel any pressure whatsoever. I had so much fun. We all did. We relished the Miss World itinerary. In those days it was a top rated television and media show in London. As nubile and naïve lasses, we’d never experienced anything like it. This was London at its best, ten days of existential joy, being transported topress calls, lunching at classy venues and attending charity functions. It was a heady mix, of classy soirees with celebrities, and politely mingling with the British aristocracy. Members of Parliament had a special lunch for us overlooking the Thames. For a girl who had never travelled any further than the Isle of Wight, on her bike, this was really living life to the full. Rehearsals were not long or particularly arduous because it was a far more simply produced show, in those (black and white) days of television. For ten days we dressed up to the nines – long gowns, stiletto heels, and sparkling diamanté ear-rings – a teenage Cinderella dream.
- How was the entire Miss World 1964 experience? Please give us an insight to pre-pageant activities and behind the scenes incidents. Any saccharine moments you would like to share with your fans?
As Miss World I was contracted to be ‘Ambassadress for Wool.’ This was a phenomenal and unique opportunity. With youthful Hotspur, I learned to speak in public – organize and compare wool fashion shows around the world. I travelled five times around the world and garnered 4 million pounds of publicity (in England alone) for the ‘International Wool Secretariat.’ Inadvertently, I became a bit of a Cinderella story, and an overnight press and media celebrity.
A saccharine moment! The evening of the final contest– Miss New Zealand and I downed a bottle of expensive champagne in our hotel room. A secret admirer of mine had sent the ‘champers’ up with a hall porter. We giggled like silly schoolgirls as we applied the last touches of make-up – dressed our own hair (mine into a beehive) and re-lived the evocative events of the past week. Toasting each other, we truly didn’t mind who won. (Miss New Zealand – Lyndall Cruickshank was also placed.)
- During your reign as Miss World, you travelled around the world five times and joined Bob Hope on his USO tour of Asia. How would you describe your reign?
In one word- Sensational
- You have appeared in countless cult movies and musical stage shows, what was the thing you loved the most in this entire voyage?
From a child I danced, and ice- skated. But my parents found it impossible to support the lessons needed. My dear Mum opined I’d always had dreams beyond my station! Maybe she had a point! I wanted to go on the stage – be an actress – sing in a show. I never gave up, and ultimately worked in show business all over the world. I feel the quality of my life has not been defined by winning a major beauty contest but in the meaning I have put to the emotions and gratitude that followed. At times, show business has been a hard slog but pain teaches you more than success, and forced me to evolve and grow. The cycle of meaning has never been dull.
- Do you follow pageants even today? What do you feel about the changes in pageantry as compared to the bygone era?
I don’t have the time to follow pageants but do take an interest. I don’t embrace some concocted negative ‘story’ regarding beauty contests. The sixties were a perfect storm for beauty queens along with the opportunities afforded. When young, one never knows the outcome of our choices, or how the world will change. Fifty one years on, there are many contests in the United Kingdom but zilch in the way of media interest – mostly negative. Today in England – being defined as a former beauty queen winner can mean you are considered a bit of an oddity, or even a pariah. Life moves forward and opinions change.
- You look flawlessly beautiful even today! What is the secret behind your gleaming beauty?
Winning is just your story for a short time. I see it now as a small part of my history but not my destination. Being born beautiful or considered so – is a gift but it doesn’t make you any more significant than any other woman. We are all equally beautiful. I have taken good care of myself but I never believed I was beautiful – I preferred to believe I was beautiful of mind. That is the challenge we can so easily go to the negative. As a pensioner, I think differently. Miss World was the vehicle that shaped my life as a human being. The years that followed afforded me the new vision to take me to the next level. My goal is to go deeper, finish the story of my life, and get my book published.
- What message would you like to give to your fans?
Thank you “The Kaleidoscope of Pageantry” for your interest in Miss World 1964. I wish all your readers and beauty contestants – adventure, passion, and to maintain a good state, regardless of circumstances. Nothing lasts – the purpose is what we become.
Thanks a lot, Ann for your precious time for this interview! It was truly incredible to catch the glimpse of unseen scenes of Miss World 1964 and your wonderfully inspirational life. I wish you all the happiness, health and success in all your future endeavors. You are truly magnificent!