Bettie Page


Bettie Page Famous memorial

Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA
Death 11 Dec 2008 (aged 85)
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Westwood, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Memorial ID 32128419 View Source

Pin-up Model. She was called variously the "Queen of Pinups," the "Queen of Curves," and the "Dark Angel," and was the subject of thousands of photographs during and shortly after the Korean War years. She was raised in Nashville, Tennessee, in a large and ultimately broken family in which she was molested by her father while her mother worked at two jobs. Even with this, she was nevertheless a good student, graduating as salutatorian of her high school class in 1940. In 1943 she married for the first of several times and in 1944 graduated from George Peabody College. She drifted for a time, working odd jobs in San Francisco, Miami, Haiti, and finally New York. Spotted on Coney Island in 1950 by photographer and New York City Policeman Jerry Tibbs, she posed for her first professional photos. Cass Carr took a large number of images which quickly became popular in such made-for-men publications as "Wink," "Titter," and "Eyefull." Between 1952 and 1957, she was the subject of later controversial bondage and sadomasochism themed photographs and short films with such titles as "Leopard Bikini Bound," which were produced and sold via mail order by Irving Klaw. In 1953 acting lessons led her to some film, television, and stage work, with "Striporama" providing the only movie preservation of her voice. During a 1954 Miami vacation, she met model and photographer Bunny Yeager, which set the stage for her best remembered work: posing with and without leopard skins at Florida's now defunct Africa USA theme park. Looking beautiful and gaining a large audience, she always made her own costumes and did her own hair and makeup. Wearing a Santa hat and nothing else she was Hugh Hefner's "Playboy" magazine's Miss January 1955. She continued to model thru 1957, and while she often posed nude the images were never sexually explicit. During the late 1950s, she gave behind the scenes help to the F.B.I. and to Estes Kefauver's Senate Committee investigating the mail order pornography industry, though she was never made to testify in public. She dropped from view in 1957, moving to Florida where she became a born-again Christian on New Year's Eve 1958. She attended three different Bible colleges and worked for several Christian organizations including that one of Dr. Billy Graham. Her personal life remained troubled, with hospitalizations for psychiatric problems and more failed marriages, including a second try with her first husband Billy Neal. Gradually, in the early 1980s, collections of her photos reappeared and a popular comic book character was built around her, and a fan magazine called "The Betty Pages" gained good circulation. By the early 1990s, she was penniless and living in a homeless shelter, for a time completely unaware that others were making money off of her images. After one agent failed to assist her, she hired the Curtis Management Group and finally began collecting some royalties. An "official" 1996 biography entitled "Bettie Page: The Life of a Pin-up Legend" told her story, then Richard Foster's 1997 "The Real Bettie Page: The Truth About the Queen of Pinups" told the darker side of her life. Later in life, she gave a few interviews and appeared at occasional autograph sessions, though she repeatedly declined to be photographed. In 2005 she was portrayed by Gretchen Mol in an R-rated film "The Notorious Bettie Page." Multiple DVDs have been released of her films including those done for Klaw and her image continues to be marketed worldwide. At her death from heart disease, litigation over the rights to her legacy was ongoing. In a 1998 "Playboy" magazine interview, she said of her time before the camera: "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."

Bio by: Bob Hufford


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
  • Added: 11 Dec 2008
  • Find a Grave Memorial ID: 32128419
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Bettie Page (22 Apr 1923–11 Dec 2008), Find a Grave Memorial ID 32128419, citing Westwood Memorial Park, Westwood, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find a Grave .