Brown hair, green eyes and a pilot's license: The Only Belgian Miss Universe Netta Duchâteau

09 Dec 2017 | Srishti Jain

It’s a popular belief that no Belgium beauty has won the title of Miss Universe till date. But what people fail to know is this is a myth. Annette Duchâteau (aka Netta Duchâteau) distinguished herself by becoming Miss Universe 1931, in Galveston, in the United States and also became the only winner from Belgium to grave her name in the Miss Universe titleholders’ history.

Nette Duchâteau was born in December 1910 in Namur, in a wealthy family. At a tender age of 3 years, she would participate in competitions, generating a passion for victory in life. Miss Belgium was organized for the first time in 1930 and Netta was a candidate.  She wrote a letter and sent a photo to the organizers. Her green eyes, brown hair, 170 cm tall height and 58 kilograms of weight allured the judges’ panel, and they declared her the most beautiful woman in the country.

Not content to be the first Walloon to obtain this title of Miss Belgium, she went to participate in Miss Universe that was happening next year in Texas. Together with her mother, she went on to cross the bridge without hesitation. She proved herself to everyone that being a pilot at the age of just 19 years, she is a beauty with brains and can handle any test thrown her way. One of these tests was the famous Street Parade where the candidates had to sit for hours in a swimsuit in a car to introduce themselves, a physically exhausting exam. The 19-year-old Netta excelled - despite not speaking English - and won the election. To everyone's surprise, she knocked the blond beauty Miss America, Ann Lee Patterson.


Brown hair, green eyes and a pilot's license: The Only Belgian Miss Universe Netta Duchâteau


"Flashing" Netta - Face of Belga cigarettes

Netta was described in the international press as "flashing brunette" and praised her for her courageous character. As a 19-year-old, she got her pilot's license in a world dominated by men.

Her triumph had an extraordinary repercussion in the country. Netta was suddenly very popular. The girl was even introduced to King Albert and Queen Elizabeth. She was proposed numerous marriage requests, which she rejected very kindly and returned to Belgium to earn money as the face of all kinds of products, such as toothpaste, chocolates and what not.

She willingly posed for the Belgian car industry and even got a Citroën gift for it. It is said that her face inspired the lady as the logo of Belga cigarettes.  She was the muse of Lawrence Sterne Stevens when he designed the emblem for cigarette manufacturer Belga. It was a logo of a mischievously looking young lady, with an inflamed cigarette in her hand, though Netta was never a smoker.

The fashionable Monaco

Netta also tried her hand in acting and won a role in the film "Grains de beauté" by Pierre Caron. But it was not a blockbuster. In 1932, she again hit the newspaper headlines for her marriage with Henri Van Den Bossche and later the birth of son Charles. A divorce followed and Netta plunged to theatre, including many in Paris during the war and in Brussels. One of her notable characters was Roxane in the play, Cyrano de Bergerac.

In the 1960s, her stardom more or less extinguished. Netta's name no longer rolled over the tongues of people. At the end of her career, she chose to migrate to France and later spent her time in the mundane Monaco, where she still lived at the time of her death at the age of 83.