"NOTORIUS" PIN UP QUEEN BETTIE PAGE PASSES AT 85
December 12, 2008
(LOS ANGELES, CA) -- Bettie Page, the dark haired pinup queen with a pageboy haircut whose sexy for the times photos heralded the coming of the the sexual revolution of the 1960s, has died. She was 85.
Bettie Page during her modeling days
Page died Thursday night at Kindred Hospital in Los Angeles, where she had been on life support since suffering a heart attack Dec. 2, according to her long time agent, Mark Roesler.
A woman who in recent years became even more of a cult figure, inlcluding a movie about her life and 600 million hits in the past five years to her website www.BettiePage.com, Page was burdened in her later years by depression, violent mood swings at times and several years in a state mental institution,
Page was perhaps most well known for the some 20,000 small black-and-white photographs taken by amateur shutterbugs from 1949 to 1957. The photos showed her in high heels and bikinis or negligees or at times in bondage apparel or in the nude.
Many years later those amateur shots resulted in biographies anout her life, comic books, fan clubs and even products such as Bettie Page playing cards, action figures, Zippo lighters and three years ago a movie about her life called "The Notorious Bettie Page."
"Bettie Page captured the imagination of a generation of men and women with her free spirit and unabashed sensuality," said Mr. Roesler, chairman of the Indianapolis-based CMG Worldwide, told reporters. Roesler was with Page when she died. He added, "She was a dear friend and a special client and one of the most beautiful and influential women of the 20th century."
Later in life Page became quite religious and was said to be puzzled by her influence on modern American pop culture. "I have no idea why I'm the only model who has had so much fame so long after quitting work," she said in an interview with The Los Angeles Times two years ago.
Page had one stipulation for that interview, that her face not be photographed. "I want to be remembered as I was when I was young and in my golden times. . . . I want to be remembered as the woman who changed people's perspectives concerning nudity in its natural form," she told the reporter.
PAGE WAS PRODUCT OF DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY
Bettie Mae Page was born April 22, 1923, in Nashville and was the oldest girl among Roy and Edna Page's six children. Her father, an auto mechanic, "molested all three of his daughters," Page once said in the interview. Her parents divorced in 1933.
"All I ever wanted was a mother who paid attention to me," Page told a reporter. "She didn't want girls, she thought we were trouble."
After high school Page earned a teaching credential but her employment in the classroom was short. She said in later years she could not control her students, especially the boys.
She worked as a secretary and married but her husband was violent she said, and by 1948 the marriage was over and she moved to New York City where she enrolled in acting classes.
CONEY ISLAND WAS PAGE’S BIG BREAK
She was noticed on the beach at Coney Island one day by New York police officer and amateur photographer Jerry Tibbs, who introduced her to what were known in those days as camera clubs.
Camera clubs were small groups of amateur and sometimes professional photographers seeking to improve their skills and work. As a group they would sometimes hire models to pose for their photos so they could include “glamor” shots in their portfolios.
Page became a highly sought-after model and eventually attracted the attention of Irving Klaw and his sister who then operated a mail-order business specializing in what were known as “cheesecake and bondage poses.”
Under contract with the Klaws Page was photographed in a wide variety of provacotive photos for the times including prancing around with a whip. She also appeared in 8-millimeter films called "loops" and feature-length films then called “peakaboos” with titles like "Betty Page in High Heels."