This Universal Newsreel footage features 1931 Miss Universe Anita Netta Duchateau of Belgium posing after winning her crown. Also shown is Ann Lee Patterson, the 1931 Miss United States. The Miss United States and Miss Universe titles were awarded during the International Pageant of Pulchritude held in Galveston. However, 1931 was the last year the pageant was held in Galveston due to the onslaught of the Great Depression.
Touted as the precursor to the Miss Universe Pageant and a Galveston tradition from 1920 to 1932, the Bathing Girl Revue (later known as the International Pageant of Pulchritude) signaled the beginning of the summer tourist season.
To strengthen its tourism industry following the devastating Hurricane of 1900, the city of Galveston looked to organize regular waterfront events. In 1920, local promoter C. E. Barfield established the annual Splash Day event, with the Bathing Girl Revue competition as its main attraction. By 1926, the revue became an international contest known as the Pageant of Pulchritude. The following year, the event was split into two separate contests held over two days, awarding the title of “Miss United States” and “Miss Universe.” At its height, the pageant attracted so many spectators that it tripled the island’s population during the weekend it ran.
As the Great Depression worsened, Galveston stopped hosting the Pageant of Pulchritude after the 1931 event. Aside from a pair of contests held in Belgium in the 1930s, international beauty competitions were discontinued until 1952, when the modern Miss Universe contest began in California.