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World’s most famous pinup girl Bettie Page dead at 85


Bettie Page, 

1950′s pinup model,

is dead at 85


International Herald Tribune

December 12th, 2008



Bettie Page

the 1950s secretary-turned-model 

whose controverisal photographs 

in skimpy attire or none at all 

helped set the stage for the 

1960s sexual revolution, 

died Thursday. 

She was 85.



Page suffered a heart attack 

last week in Los Angeles and 

never regained consciousness, 

her agent Mark Roesler said. 


Before the heart attack, 

Page had been hospitalized 

for three weeks with pneumonia.


“She captured the imagination of a 

generation of men and women with 

her free spirit and unabashed 


Roesler said. 

“She is the embodiment of beauty.”



Page, who was also known as Betty, 

attracted national attention with 

magazine photographs of her sensuous 

figure in bikinis and see-through lingerie 

that were quickly tacked up on walls 

in military barracks, garages 

and elsewhere, 

where they remained for years.



Her photos included a centerfold 

in the January 1955 issue of then-fledgling 

Playboy magazine, as well as 

controversial sadomasochistic poses.



The latter helped contribute to her 

mysterious disappearance from 

the public eye, 

which lasted decades and included 

years during which she battled 

mental illness and became a 

born-again Christian.



After resurfacing in the 1990s, 

she occasionally granted interviews 

but refused to allow her 

picture to be taken.



“I don’t want to be 

photographed in my old age,” 

she told an interviewer in 1998. 

“I feel the same way with old movie stars. … 

It makes me sad. 

We want to remember them 

when they were young.”



The 21st century indeed had people 

remembering her just as she was. 



She became the subject of songs, 

biographies, Web sites, comic books, 

movies and documentaries. 



A new generation of fans bought 

thousands of copies of her photos, 

and some feminists hailed her as a 

pioneer of women’s liberation.



Gretchen Mol portrayed her in 2005′s 

“The Notorious Bettie Page” 

and Paige Richards had the role in 2004′s 

“Bettie Page: Dark Angel.” 



Page herself took part in 

the 1998 documentary 

“Betty Page: Pinup Queen.”



Her career began one day in October 

1950 when she took a respite from her 

job as a secretary in a New York office 

for a walk along the beach at Coney Island. 



An amateur photographer named 

Jerry Tibbs admired the 27-year-old’s firm, 

curvy body and asked her to pose.



Looking back on the career that followed, 

she told Playboy in 1998, 

“I never thought it was shameful. 

I felt normal. 


It’s just that it was much better than 

pounding a typewriter eight hours a day, 

which gets monotonous.”

Nudity didn’t bother her, 

she said, explaining: 

“God approves of nudity. 



Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, 

they were naked as jaybirds.”



In 1951, Page fell under the influence 

of a photographer and his sister 

who specialized in S&M. 

They cut her hair into the dark bangs 

that became her signature and posed 

her in spiked heels and little else. 



She was photographed with 

a whip in her hand, 

and in one session she was 

spread-eagled between two trees, 

her feet dangling.

“I thought my arms and legs 

would come out of their sockets,” 

she said later.



Moralists denounced the 

photos as perversion, 

and Sen. Estes Kefauver 

of Tennessee, Page’s home state, 

launched a congressional investigation.



Page quickly retreated from public view, 

later saying she was hounded by 

federal agents who waved her 

nude photos in her face. 

She also said she believed that, 

at age 34, her days as 

“the girl with the perfect figure” 

were nearly over.



She moved to Florida in 1957 

and married a much younger man, 

as an early marriage to her high 

school sweetheart had ended in divorce.

Her second marriage also failed, 

as did a third, and she suffered 

a nervous breakdown.



In 1959, she was lying on a sea wall 

in Key West when she saw a church 

with a white neon cross on top. 

She walked inside and became 

a born-again Christian.



After attending Bible school, 

she wanted to serve as a missionary 

but was turned down because she 

had been divorced. 



Instead, she worked full-time 

for evangelist Billy Graham’s ministry.



A move to Southern California in 

1979 brought more troubles.



She was arrested after an altercation 

with her landlady, and doctors who 

examined her determined she had 

acute schizophrenia. 

She spent 20 months in a state 

mental hospital in San Bernardino.



A fight with another landlord 

resulted in her arrest, 

but she was found not guilty 

because of insanity. 



She was placed under state 

supervision for eight years.


Born April 22, 1923, 

in Nashville, Tenn., 

Page said she grew up in a 

family so poor 

“we were lucky to get an orange 

in our Christmas stockings.”



The family included three 

boys and three girls, 

and Page said her father 

molested all of the girls.


After the Pages moved to Houston, 

her father decided to return to 

Tennessee and stole a police car 

for the trip. 



He was sent to prison, 

and for a time Betty 

lived in an orphanage.



In her teens she acted in 

high school plays, 

going on to study drama in 

New York and win a screen test 

from 20th Century Fox before her 

modeling career took off.


















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