Wilnelia, Lady Forsyth-Johnson (née Merced; born October 12, 1957) is a Puerto Rican former actress, model and beauty queen. She won Miss World 1975, and was married to entertainer Sir Bruce Forsyth from 1983 until his death in August 2017.
Born in Caguas, Puerto Rico, she won Miss Mundo de Puerto Rico 1975 and went on to win Miss World 1975 at the Royal Albert Hall in London. She remained the only Puerto Rican to win the title until Stephanie Del Valle won Miss World 2016. She travelled widely during 1975 and was invited to El Salvador by the Salvadorean military government before the civil war. Wilnelia fell in love with England, a place where she would later call home.
After passing on her crown in 1976, she was signed by Ford Models in New York City. In 1978, a giant poster of Wilnelia Merced was displayed in Times Square. She was introduced to British television entertainer Bruce Forsyth at the 1980 Miss World competition gala in London. While still a public figure at home in Puerto Rico, she retired from modelling after her marriage to Forsyth in 1983.
Merced married Bruce Forsyth at a ceremony in New York in 1983. The couple's son Jonathan Joseph "JJ" was born in 1987. She remained married to Forsyth until his death in August 2017. She lives with her son on the Wentworth Estate in Surrey, England.
On 29 January 2018, for the first time ever; Wilnelia spoke openly about the final days she spent with her husband before his death. She expressed her appreciation of being able to stand by him at the last moment. She felt "lucky" that all the close family members managed to say goodbye at his deathbed. Wilnelia recalled that Forsyth was surrounded by all his daughters, who kept Forsyth accompanied and watched films together. Merced said that Forsyth had wished to celebrate his hundredth birthday at the London Palladium.
She has a foundation to help underprivileged children in Puerto Rico, for which she organises charity balls. In 2002, during one of her visits to Puerto Rico; her home was broken into by thieves, who injured one of the maids.
|Awards and achievements|
| Miss World
Loyda Eunice Valle Blas Machado
| Miss Mundo de Puerto Rico
- Natasha Sporn,"'We were able to say our goodbyes': Sir Bruce Forsyth's widow Lady Wilnelia Merced reveals emotional last moments of his life",Evening Standard,29 January 2018