Bettie Page

Model / Pinup

Born: 22 April 1923
Died: 11 December 2008 (pneumonia)
Birthplace: Nashville, Tennessee
Best known as:

1950s pinup model with black hair and bangs

Name at birth: Betty Mae Page

 

Bettie Page was a pin-up model of the 1950s who became an iconic favorite of retro-loving pop culture fans during the 1980s and '90s. She began posing for photos in the 1940s as a way to make ends meet while working on an acting career. Her shapely figure, easy smile and trademark hairstyle -- long black hair with bangs -- made her a fan favorite. Photos done by Irving Klaw featured Page nude and semi-nude in fetishistic poses and exotic settings, including "jungle photos" of Page posing with cheetahs and other wild animals. Until 1957 she was a popular model in the mail-order trade and men's magazines such as Wink, Eyeful and Hugh Hefner's Playboy (she was Miss January of 1955). After retiring from modeling, Page faded from the public eye, attending religous schools in the 1960s and then having a mental breakdown in the 1970s which led to 20 months in the Patton State Hospital in San Bernadino, California. But she was rediscovered in the 1980s; viewed through the lens of post-modern irony, Bettie Page became a subversive symbol of 1950s kitsch. By the 2000s her '50s image could be found in graphic design, the comics and a variety of merchandise, placing her in the role of a Marilyn Monroe for the alternative set.

Extra credit:

Page's name was spelled Betty at birth, but she switched the spelling to Bettie as a young girl, according to Richard Foster's 2005 book The Real Bettie Page ... Page was married four times to three different men; all four marriages ended in divorce, and she had no children... She had an undergraduate degree from Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee.

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