Latin beauty says bond with TV legend husband Sir Bruce Forsyth stronger than ever
Nov 5 2011 Alun Palmer
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THEIRS is one of the most enduring marriages in showbusiness ... and at its very heart lies an extraordinary love pact.
Such is the devotion between Sir Bruce Forsyth and his wife Wilnelia that from the start they vowed to part if one of them falls for someone else.
After seeing the fallout of so many unhappy relationships through her charity work, Wilnelia wanted to make sure their marriage never ended badly.
And it worked. In two years, it will be their 30th wedding anniversary and in all that time the pledge has never been needed.
Wilnelia, 54, explained: "I don't worry about Bruce straying at all. We have this thing that at the moment the relationship has to end then it is better to talk and part.
"I don't want me to be with him if the love is not there. If somebody can make him more happy, he should go.
"We always talk about this, that if somebody else came into our life then we would part as friends. But that has never happened over 30 years."
Bruce, 83, has been married twice before and has one son and five daughters. He fell for Wilnelia when they judged Miss World in 1980 - five years after she won the title herself.
She said: "After the show finished, they have a gala dinner and we all sat down at the same table. He told me later he'd waited for me to come down so he could see where I sat and then he would choose that table.
"I could see Bruce wanted to talk to me but, typical English, he was very shy.
"When he got the courage to ask me for a dance, I was very impressed. We danced for two hours. I kept asking him, 'Are you sure you are English?' because he could really dance."
Wilnelia had no idea that Bruce was a showbiz legend in Britain.
She laughed: "I didn't know anything about Bruce. It took me months to realise who he was.
"When we went out for the first e time, people were saying, 'Nice to see you, to see you nice'. I thought they must all be his friends. He never does the catchphrases at home."
When the couple married in 1983, many feared it was doomed because of the 30-year age gap.
That was something Wilnelia only really thought about when she introduced the veteran entertainer to her parents - her mum is 10 years younger than Bruce.
She said: "Suddenly the age thing clicked - before that it didn't cross my mind. My mother wasn't really worried about it.
"On our wedding day, she gave him a book called The Fountain Of Youth. It's all about exercise. She also gave him a letter about how to look after me."
The Strictly Come Dancing host has been entertaining the nation for so long it feels like we know him. But that's not the real Brucie.
Wilnelia said: "There are two Bruces. There is a showbiz guy who sometimes takes over. But the other one is quite shy and completely different.
"I am quite happy to be living with the other Bruce. He is very organised and disciplined, not only in the house but in his job. He is also very healthy and does his exercise. I'm very proud of him.
"He does get tired after Strictly. Anyone would get tired with the amount of work he puts in. But now he the doesn't do the second show, it makes a lot of difference.
"He doesn't go out on Sunday. He just rests, reads the paper and watches television and football. He loves watching sport.
"He knows when he wants to retire, but he is still doing an incredible job. His memory is better than mine and physically he is great. And as long as he has his health, he's fine."
Tomorrow, Bruce and Wilnelia are off to the Miss World 2011 contest at Earls Court in London.
She said: "We are doing a little presentation. Usually, he doesn't do anything on Sunday but because it is Miss World he is going to do it. It sounds unreal. How can a competition change my life? But without it, I wouldn't have met Bruce. It was meant to be."
Wilnelia says the beauty pageant has changed beyond all recognition.
She said: "Miss World is completely different to how it was in my time. They do sport. They do a talent competition.
Four days ago, they had a debate at Cambridge University and some of them were incredible.
"People who criticise should find out what these girls can do. They are achieving more in their countries than many politicians.
"I think it is the best reality show in the world. Plus it is glamorous and fun. As long as you don't take it too seriously, why not?"
Wilnelia is an ambassador for Julia Morley's charity Beauty With A Purpose and is be off to Ghana soon to see the work it has done there. She also has her own charity back in her native Puerto Rico.
She said: "After Strictly is finished, we go to Puerto Rico for the winter where I can do a lot of work with my charity. Bruce has been wonderful with it, too."
She has just won an Inspiration Award for Women for her style and glamour and could easily pass for 20 years younger.
She said: "I've done a little bit of Botox once but now it's gone. Maybe I will have some work around the eyes. I am quite disciplined about dieting.
"I go to the gym. I walk a lot. I swim and exercise as much as I can. I've never been really big but I play around 5lb up and down, especially when I'm in Puerto Rico for Christmas and I eat a lot."
As a girl, Wilnelia went to modelling school and had dance lessons. Her career as a model took off after she was crowned Miss World in 1975.
But it meant her education was cut short - something she later remedied.
She said: "I said six years ago that I regretted that I never finished university. So I went. I graduated with a degree in humanities specialising in art. It is one of my greatest achievements."
Wilnelia can now call herself Lady Forsyth after Bruce was knighted last month. Talking about the ceremony, she revealed: "The Queen told Bruce she couldn't believe he had been in showbusiness for 70 years. He was very well behaved and didn't make a joke. I've never seen him so nervous before.
"I'm so proud of him. It is something he's achieved through hard work and talent. He thought it was a joke when he got the letter from the Palace. He rang them to make sure. He couldn't believe it."
Bruce has a new album out on Monday. Wilnelia said: "It's called These Are My Favourites.
"They are all songs that mean something to him. He dedicated I've Grown Accustomed To Your Face to me. The first time I heard it I was in tears."
Sadly, one remaining ambition seems beyond Wilnelia's reach.
She said: "I'd love to do Strictly but they might think it was a fix if I won. I can move. I can dance the Latin thing. It is in our blood. It would be fun.
"But imagine the judges saying terrible things about me and if Bruce has a go.
"To tell the truth, one person in the family in showbusiness is enough.
"Although maybe next year I could do the Christmas show..."