SI Vault
No Prima Donna
Jaime Diaz
February 07, 1989
Modest Sheila Roscoe still doesn't understand how she ever got to be a model
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February 07, 1989

No Prima Donna

Modest Sheila Roscoe still doesn't understand how she ever got to be a model

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Sheila Roscoe checks her hand for traces of dark Belgian chocolate, hastily wipes it on an apron and extends it in a firm introduction. "Hi, I'm Roscoe," she says. A moment later she adds, "Pretty glamorous, huh?"

Well, yes. Roscoe may have sneaked in a few nibbles over the past four years while slathering frosting on chocolate bombes and baking buttery croissants as an assistant manager and executive pastry coordinator at the C'est Si Bon bakery-caf� in Corona del Mar, Calif., but she has maintained the figure that graced the cover of SI in 1972. Now in what she calls her "late, late 30's," she is still an active model.

"I've tried, but I can't seem to quit," she says. The place is rich with aromas—of rising dough, gourmet coffee and the nearby Pacific Ocean. "I get calls when they need the bank-executive look or the upscale mom—something a little sophisticated. I do it because it's still like being Cinderella."

Roscoe had been modeling for only a year when she got a one-day swim-suit assignment with SI in Marina del Rey harbor. "It was by far the biggest thing I had done," she says. "I remember being worried that I'd have to buy my own lunch."

When she is handed a copy of the issue in which she appeared, Roscoe draws a breath. "Oooh, this is scary," she says with mock foreboding. She winces when she comes upon herself in a white jersey jumpsuit, by topless creator Rudi Gernreich, that featured a softball-sized black circle over each breast. "Thank God people never actually wore that," she says with a laugh. "Of course, it's nothing compared to what the models are wearing now. Me? I'm strictly one-piece conservative. Safe."

The persona Roscoe portrays before a camera is different from that of the genuine article. Though she's an elegant brunette who resembles Audrey Hepburn, she has a relaxed openness that makes it easy to understand why everyone calls her Roscoe. "Roscoe is nothing like the prima donna image of a model—she downplays everything," says Scott Russell, one of the owners of C'est Si Bon.

Russell is the only one of her 30 coworkers Roscoe has told about her interview with SI, but during it her coworkers shoot glances at her. "I'm embarrassed," she says. "I guess I'm not comfortable when I stand out."

She felt the same way as a kid in Hot Springs, Ark., where her father, George, ran a liquor store. "I wasn't exactly Daisy Mae," she says. "But I've never lost those country values."

She remembers wanting to be a stewardess when she grew up, but otherwise, she says, "I don't think I was known for anything in my childhood." She was surprised when she was chosen basketball homecoming queen her senior year at Hot Springs High. "I think it was more because I got along with people than because of looks," she says. "I'm lucky because I'm not overly attractive. I have a good look, but it's not one that intimidates other women." She admits, however, that "other people have always seen more in me than I see in myself."

One of those people was Jack Roberts, then the co-owner of Carson and Roberts, a Los Angeles public relations and advertising agency, who was a passenger on a TWA flight on which Roscoe, who had moved to Los Angeles after high school, worked as a flight attendant. "He said he thought I was very photogenic and told me that he would get me an interview with the Nina Blanchard Agency in Los Angeles," says Roscoe. "It wasn't a line—there were no strings attached.

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