March 2, 2023
In 1967, a baby-faced and rosy-cheeked Shakira Baksh traipsed down the Miss World stage at the Lyceum Ballroom in London. The 5’ 2” model donned a one-shoulder, gold-sequined gown, and golden gloves, and had her hair in a tight chignon. Apart from appearing nearly giddy with excitement, the newcomer was also one of a handful of non-white contestants out of the 54.
Baksh, who came in third, showed no signs of defeat, hugging the winner and runner-up and smiling from ear to ear. You would never know that just the previous year, Baksh, then 19, had overcome trauma. Terrorists had bombed the U.S. consulate in Guyana, where Baksh worked as a secretary and typist, leaving her with a burst eardrum and a scar that extended from her cheek to her ear.
“My main concern was just to get out,” the Indo-Guyanese model told People in 1976. After placing third in Miss World, she would appear in several British films and TV ads. But her marriage to one of the U.K.’s most famous men, Michael Caine, would come to define her for the rest of her life. To this day, headlines still refer to the multihyphenate as “Michael Caine’s wife.” Who is Shakira Baksh, and why is her story hidden in plain sight?