Mon | Jan 25, 2021

Marcia Thomas | Sheila Chong, Miss Jamaica 1959 - … The island’s first entrant to Miss World 60 years ago

Published:Saturday | December 21, 2019 | 12:00 AMMarcia Thomas/Guest Columnist
Sheila Chong, Miss Jamaica 1959.

Sixty years ago, Sheila Chong, Miss Jamaica 1959, was the country’s first entrant in the Miss World beauty pageant, which began in 1951.

On Sunday night, June 7, 1959, 24-year-old Sheila Chong, Miss Red Stripe Beer, was crowned Miss Jamaica at the Myrtle Bank Hotel from a field of 15 contestants.

The competition was then organised by the Jamaica Beauty Contest Association. Miss Chong’s prize included a trip by British Overseas Airways to New York, London, Paris, and Rome. In London, Sheila would become the first Jamaican to compete at Miss World.

Sheila Chong left Jamaica on October 6, 1959, on her prize trip. Her chaperone was Mrs Irma Parke, who joined her in New York on October11.

The ninth Miss World beauty pageant was held on November 10, 1959, at the Lyceum Ballroom in London. It was the first to be televised by the British Broadcasting Corporation. On Jamaica’s debut at the competition, Miss Sheila Chong placed in the top 10 out of 37 entrants. Miss Holland, Corine Rottschafer, was crowned Miss World 1959.

On her return to Jamaica on November 16, 1959, Sheila told The Gleaner that she had had a wonderful trip but clearly thought that the Miss World pageant could have been better organised.

Sheila Chong, our Miss World pioneer, is now deceased. She died in October 1978.

Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.