By: Godfrey Chin  –

 Guyana is on the verge of winning ‘Gold’ at the Miss World with their popular representatives 22 year old Arti Angelita Cameron ( at Miss World )  the paragon of feminine pulchritude – a dark horse favorite. Recently Miss Kara Lord placed 17th at the Miss Universe Contest in Sao Palao, South America.

 In anticipation of laurels soonest – this nostalgia buffs seizes the opportunity to record the saga and romance of our former Queens before the Nation became a Republic 1970.

 Phyllis Woolford was crowned Miss Guiana 1947  – three years  before Miss World was initiated as an International Beauty Contest in the UK by Eric Morley.    

With the ascension of the young Queen Elizabeth II, to the English Throne, June 1953 there was a heightened consciouness over fashions among the young and beautiful throughout the Commonwealth. By the visit 1958 to BG of her younger sister Princess Margaret  with coiffured hairdos, exquisite hats and bell-bottom skirts,  there was a ‘tsunami’ of interest by our young ladies for modern fashions and daring fastidious Parisian-cuts. Beryl Perreira invited her friend US Model Sarah Lou Harris, to visit BG to participate in a Fashion Extravaganza at Tower Hotel, and the rest is history. Sarah fell in love with BG, stayed on, and they both commenced to train the local lasses in feminine grace, modeling, deportment and charm. The Sixties, can truly be called the golden decade of Fashion  with a galaxy of fashion shows such as Concours D’Elegance plus a fabulous Paris Show at Carib, all showcasing  our  popular models,  including then Elizabeth Coltress, Faye Yansen, Paula Van Eeden, Juliet Caesar, Maureen Murray, Barbara Wong, Phyllis Durham, Joyce Kawall, Joan Carter, Barbara Boyce, Jacqueline Correia, Elaine Puddicombe, Luna Chung, Audrey Reed, and Daphne Choy,

 Sarah joined the staff of Radio Demerara as a ‘Broadcaster – played basketball with the Cosmos  Clownettes, and this former  High School Queen  married Sir John Carter.

 In 1952 the Miss Universe Contest was introduced in California, and by 1956 a golden tanned teenage Beauty, Joan Fung ( Miss Vigorelli ) was crowned Queen of the Beauties of the Guianas, by the previous year’s winner Barbara Crum Ewing. Proceeding through the auspices of Celebrity Concerts to California, Joan as our first Ambassadress was highly praised for her grace, charm and deportment by the Mayor of Long Beach and several of Hollywood leading stars, including Jeff Chandler.  She subsequently married Surgeon W I ‘Bud’ Lee who together with all three siblings Richard, Bruce and Diane represented Guyana in Squash. Richard the eldest was Southern Caribbean Champion for five years consecutively.

 Subsequent Queens included Corinne Bettencourt 1955, Cleo Fernandes 1958, Gloria Blackman 1963  and Cheryl Cheong 1965 who later married David DeGroot. Umblita Van Slytman our first Queen to Miss Universe 1966, created a stir in California in her provocative Amerindian Costume  and dress designed by George Morrison. Umblita was my Secretary when I managed a ‘Well Drilling Company Office on the second floor of the Palm Court and the traffic was like Grand Central Station – necessitating  daily excursions downstairs for cocktails. I was already happily married – ya lose some – win some. Ya think it easy!

Shakira Baksh, at 19 year old won Miss Guyana wearing a shimmering gown made by her mother, and on Nov 16th 1967, was third in the Miss World Pageant at the Lyceum Theatre London. Michael Caine, fresh from his debut film as a swinging ‘Alfie’, saw Shakira portraying a native peasant in a Maxwell House Coffee Commercial – was smitten, and was preparing to fly to Brazil to woo ‘the most beautiful girl’ he had ever seen. Little did he know she lived right in his neighbourhood in London. A friend supplied her telephone  number for a date, and the rest is ‘a fairy tale romance’. They married Jan 1973 in Las Vegas – have a daughter Natasha and live today in a beautiful exquisitely renovated 200 year barn. Shakira, with hubby Michael, and Sean Connery starred in the John Huston 1975 epic ‘The Man who would be King’. Picture of Shakira Baksh

 Our Pamela Lord was fourth at Miss World 1969. Guyana is on the treshold to win the coveted title.

 Our Festival Queens Contests  initiated by the Jaycees at the BGCC Ground, included Miss Penelope Paddenburg (Miss Banks 1960 ) Miss Bernadette DeCastro 1961 – Miss Aileen Morgan (Miss Banks) 1962 and Miss Janet Rajnaraine ( Miss Shellane 1962 ) . Miss De Castro subsequently married Supt Cecil ‘Skip’ Roberts while Aileen Morgan married Frank Thomasson of the Theatre Guild.

 When the annual post independence carnival- like celebrations  moved to Linden,  Miss Evadne Gravesande was crowned Queen in my ‘Egyptian Broach costume and drove off in a brand new Morris Minor Car. Our 1970 Republic Queen at this venue was Hazel Figuera who in my costume ‘Beauty in Perpetuity’ proceed in October that year to win the Jaycees Miss Caribbean Carnival. Two years later the Linden Celebrations became the National Annual Anniversary Celebration 23rdFeb as Mashramani.

 And to close this romance of our pre-Republic Queens – widow Sarah Lou Carter – nee Harris was married to  Nathaniel Dixon on Valentine Day. February 14 2011 in Springhouse. Silver Springs, MD. Picture of Sarah Carter’s wedding Feb 14th 2011

 Love does make the World go round. Ya think it easy! Godfrey Chin copyright reserved.

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  • Sylvie Kierstead  On October 13, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Very good post–nice to keep up to date with our past, present and future. Please keep us informed as to when this show will air–thank you!

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