Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Throughout the history of the world, there are only 61 women, so far, who have managed to become Miss World titleholder. One of them is Ann Sidney who won this prestigious title back in 1964. A native of Poole, England, Ann Sidney was the second Miss World winner from United Kingdom. She won the contest on 12 November 1964, held at Lyceum Theater in London UK, after beating 41 other contestants from around the world. We are very lucky to get a chance to do an online interview with this wonderful and beautiful woman, where she shared a lot about herself, her life as Miss World, her view about beauty, and how Miss World has changed since then. And as a part of our celebration of the ongoing Miss World 2012 festival, we proudly present to you our interview with Miss World 1964 Ann Sidney!

1 Would you please tell us about yourself?
Hello, I am British born and at the present I time I am living in London. I have lived and worked all over the world. Travel has been a great education for me. I enjoyed working in Indonesia when travelling with my cabaret act. I sang in hotels in Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, and the Philippines. I also did tours of several plays throughout the World. I had the luxury of working in exotic places staying at first class hotels and being looked after very well. It would have been impossible to have had the finances to spend several weeks in each place, and to be able to sight see during the day. Although, there were many hardships growing up just after World War II, I had a very loving family. My passion when I was 10 was ice skating and I spent most of my spare time practicing figure and free skating at the local ice rink in Bournemouth. They were comfortable years in the sense that we felt very safe, and people after the war helped each other. Gifted from my parents with all the most important ingredients for a growing child, I had love, care, nurture and guidance. Before winning the Miss World I was extremely naive. The amazing learning curve winning afforded me you could not put a price on.

2 Who or what is the biggest inspiration in your life?
Without a doubt my biggest inspiration was both my Mum and Dad. They were very emotionally available. From very young my Dad instilled in me a love of literature. Tragically he contracted pneumatic fever in the war, which cut his life too short. Both Mum and Dad were strong minded individuals. If, I inherited but a few of their good traits, I would be grateful. My Mother was beautiful, lively, fun, loyal and a very hard worker. Both of them had hearts of gold. Both of them were able to show love.

3 If you could describe yourself in 5 words, which 5 would you choose and why?
Decent, Spiritual, Caring, Honest, Fiery. The latter can appear rather rapidly, if not given the freedom that my autonomous nature needs.

4 What activities or hobbies do you usually love to do in your spare time?
I am no different than most. I like to discover new horizons. Fascinated with history, and the discovery of what makes human beings really tick. Different worlds and how people adapt. Interested in Psychology, I like to explore the inner lives of people. Hence studying acting, and deciphering characters and what are the reasons for the behaviours that drive them. I need activity of mind, anything as long as it leads to learning. I like to exercise and dance. I still force myself to stay in as good a shape as I can. I like to read, go to the theatre, and involve myself in activities that challenge either my brain or my physical ability. I like art galleries and spending time on creative pastimes. Visiting places around the world, and always learning something about cultures throughout the world.

5 What makes you interested in joining beauty pageants in the first time?
The first contest I entered was decided for me, by the hairdressing salon where I was doing an apprenticeship. They hoped for some free publicity. At barely sixteen I entered the “Bournemouth Regatta Queen.” I would never have had the confidence or aspiration, without that push. To my total bafflement I won. Other contests entered my thought process, mainly because winning was quite an exciting experience.

6 How did you prepare yourself before competing at Miss World 1964?
I am afraid to say, I did very little in preparation for the Miss World title. I came out of a time when none of us had any idea of a “privileged life.” We were from the working classes and we were just beginning to realise that opportunity may be available. It certainly had not been, for our parents. So, we grew up with the underlying idea, that we knew our place. The class system in England was still quite prevalent. So expectations were not common place to us, the workers. In my Mums day, jobs for women were to go into service, by being a maid to rich families. However, everything was beginning to change and for the first time youth had a few bob (money) in their pockets, and no war to go too. It was the beginning of the iconic sixties, when everything started to change. To win the contest was a complete shock to me. When you are young you are better at living in the moment, and for me it was an unexpected moment that totally changed my life.

7 Out of 41 other contestants, which one was your closest friend during the Miss World 1964 days? Did you two have any special memories together?
I shared a room at the Waldorf Hotel in London with Miss New Zealand, Lyndal Cruickshank. An Amazonian beauty, she was also good sort with a great sense of humour. She and I spent the evenings laughing and talking about our upbringing and got little sleep. It was all a magical adventure and we were screen goddesses in our own Hollywood movie. Dressed up every day we were ushered to many events all over London. We had a bottle of champagne sent to us the night of the contest and as we were putting on our make-up, we chinked our long stem glasses and decided that we would have fun, regardless of “win or lose.” I do think that because of that attitude we both got into the final five. She sat on the bed next to me the morning after my win, as I was interviewed with “breakfast in bed.” which had become a tradition. She was very gracious.

8 Competing in a pageant could be very exciting yet very frightening at the same time. What was the most exciting and the most frightening experience you had during the Miss World 1964 days?
One of the most exciting events was going to the Houses of Parliament. Walking the halls of power of that magnificent building was a privilege I never expected. We watched a debate, and then whisked to an elegant dining room for a lunch, accompanied by politicians. The contestants made impromptu speeches that were very touching.
Frightening experience, not really, other than having chaperones to watch our every move. Perhaps a stalker or a flasher was hiding behind the potted palm trees in the lobby of the Waldorf Hotel! But there was not a sign of bad behaviour. We were watched like hawks and so not able to sneak out and meet an old friend for a cuppa tea, it seemed very oppressive to someone who had grown up in England. However, for the overseas visitors it was a necessity as they could easily have been kidnapped. The contest was at the height of its popularity in England and we were under the constant watch of the Miss World organisation. They left nothing to chance.

9 Did you expect yourself to win? Or did you actually have other contestants as your favorite to win? If yes, who was she?
Heck No! Not a chance of winning. When I got down to the last three, the thought was, I was to be the one left out. Miss Argentina first runner up, totally gorgeous. Miss New Zealand (as I knew her) I thought her personality would shine through. Miss Denmark and Sweden being the arc typical blue-eyed Marilyn Monroe blondes, I was certain that the men on the judging panel would be completely gaga over them. So you never can tell. HA.

10 If you could thank one person for your victory, who would it be?
My Mum.

11 As a Miss World, you had visited many places around the world and did a lot of charitable works, which one of those visits feels the most special to you?
I did the Bob Hope Show USO tour. Not charity but heartfelt for the troops. I have always been a supporter of our troops. With others I raised money for the “Variety Club” and also for AID’s charities throughout the world, which I continued throughout my career.

12 What was the best lesson that you learn from your life as a Miss World winner?
Two things. Confidence: The confidence the Miss World year gives you to continue to follow your dreams. Adapt: And when the bubble bursts and you are last year’s model the ability to adapt to another dream.

13 Aside from being a Miss World winner, you also have a successful career in acting. So which one do you think is more difficult? Being a Miss World or being an actress?
Show business is a difficult business and you have to continually audition. That is what actors do. This world is changing rapidly. I was around in the days when there was plenty of work. Lots of ways to learn and theatre shows less expensive to put on. Working in Las Vegas was also very good timing as I arrived while the “The Rat Pack” Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Dean Martin were still working. It was a period of time that has gone and big production shows have taken over. The old studio system is no longer and they were not building that same sort of talent anymore. I saw the best when we all could work and earn a good living. Many still do, the shows are the stars and they use a large cast of talent. There is a plethora of talent, but no studio system to build stars anymore.

14 In your opinion, how much has the modern-day Miss World competition changed since 1964? What has changed and what still remains the same?
Nothing stays the same. If you were to see the tape of when I won you would realise that the productions values are enormously changed. Also there is more opportunity for the contestant’s to shine in several different contests. Honestly though the concept is still the same and a chance for young women to have an experience that will be with them for their lifetimes.

15 You have also been invited to become a judge for Miss World competition on several occasions. Based on those experiences, as well as your own victory, what do you think the criteria that the judges look from a Miss World winner?
The same as it always was. Beauty, class and humility. Something that shines from within.

16 Beauty, brain, or behavior – which one do you think is the most important?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Brains take study. Behaviour is the most important, as it takes discipline, and emotional intelligence. Behaviour shows character, and the ability to respect others. To have all three is the ideal.

17 A lot pageant contestants today take plastic surgery to enhance their beauty under the philosophy “Beauty requires pain and sacrifice”. Do you agree with them?
I would prefer that women of 17 to 50 not consider plastic surgery unless they have some deformity. But again it is a personal choice. The search for perfection is a never ending battle. The media brainwashes us daily with beautiful people in advertising and by osmosis it can be predatory with very young inexperienced and naive girls. I do understand women who age wanting to keep their looks for as long as they can. But, surgery can be very risky.

18 Today, almost 48 years have passed since the day you were crowned Miss World, and yet you still look very beautiful. What is your beauty secret?
My Mother had very good genes. And a happy outlook, she always looked “sunny”. Beauty comes from within, so much has to do with attitude, and how you feel about yourself. I do all the usual things, cleanse well, use good night creams. Good sleep. Get skin peels every so often. I long ago tore up my Miss World ticket. You can’t build your life on outwardly success, or beauty, without spirituality. Although it will be with me always and I am proud of it, you have to move on with your life, and not let looks hold too much importance. We all face the inevitability that beauty depreciates with time.

19 You have achieved something that a lot of other people couldn’t. However, is there anything that you still want to achieve in your life?
I am a born achiever. I don’t want to bungee jump or sky dive out of an aeroplane, but, as long as I live I will always have a project on the go. At the moment I have several. But, life not a controlled experiment, I keep open to working on goals, and see where they take me.

20 Last but not least, this year more than 120 young women are expected to participate in Miss World 2012, what messages do you have for them? 
Hello to all the wonderful young ladies that have chosen to enter the Miss World 2012. I wish you every success. By entering you have dared to be different, dared to commit to you, and by doing so learnt to stay away from people who attempt to belittle your ambitions and dreams. Take the positive from this opportunity and be proud to represent your country. You are all winners. Keep your sense of fun and humour. In two years time it will be 50 years since I won the contest, so like me make this something to remember.

We feel totally thankful to Mrs Ann Sidney and appreciate the chance and the time she has given to us for this interview. We really wish the best of luck for you, Mrs Ann Sidney. 

To learn more and know better about Ann Sidney.please visit her official website

Pictures courtesy of

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