According to Yahoo! News, Bettie Page, the pinup queen and model, has passed away. Last week she was put on life support after suffering a heart attack, and then lost consciousness, according to her agent, Mark Roesler. It was he and her family who had made the decision to remove the life support. Even before the heart attack, Bettie has been placed in the hospital for three weeks with pneumonia. She died on Thursday, December 11, 2008, she was 85 years old.
Bettie was also famous with another variation of her name but was spelled, Betty. She attracted the fascination of many due to her wild abandon. She first received attention while appearing in magazines in barely there lingerie. In January of 1955, she posed for Playboy.
Her personal life, once researched is very tragic. But she stopped modeling and vanished from the public view for decades. She has also battled mental illness, and then became a Christian. She lived a rather interesting life.
Bettie resurfaced in the 1990s, occasionally allowing an interview, but refusing to have her picture taken. She is quoted as having said “I don’t want to be photographed in my old age.” she said in an interview in 1998. “I feel the same way with old movie stars….It makes me sad” she is quoted as having said this.
Bettie Mae Page, was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on the 22nd of April in 1923. She was the second child of Edna Mae Pirtle and Walter Roy Page. She was one of six children born unto her parents. She cared for her younger siblings at a very young age. As a child Bettie’s father was sent to jail, and her mother was unable to cope on her own. During this time, her and her two sisters were sent to an orphanage. Later in life Page admitted her father had been a “sex fiend”, and that he had started molesting her when she was 13 years old. She knew how to sew and her and her sisters often imitated their favorite movie stars. Later, when she had become a model she did her own hair and makeup, and she even made her own costumes and bikinis.
She was known as a very strong student and was on the debate team at Hume-Fogg High School. Bettie was even voted “Most Likely To Succeed”. She was the salutatorian of her class when she graduated on June 6, 1940. She was awarded a scholarship and enrolled at George Peabody College, with the hopes of being a teacher. It was just the next fall when she began studying acting, with hopes of becoming a movie star. At this same time she began her very first job as a typist for Alfred Crab. She graduated college with a Bachelor or Arts degree in 1944.
She married Billy Neal in 1943, in a courthouse, just before he was drafted into the Navy, for WW II. She began to move around even living and working in Haiti and Miami. She filed for divorce from Neal in 1947.
The Pin Up, The Model
She moved to New York with hopes of landing a job as an actress. She worked as a secretary in order to support herself in the meantime. She met Jerry Tibbs, a New York Police Officer, on the shore on Coney Island. He took pictures and together they created Ms. Page’s first pinup portfolio.
She began going to camera clubs, a place that allowed legal nude production of photos. She soon became a hit due to her lack of inhibition. Her name quickly spread through the erotica photography industry. Soon after this her image began to appear in men’s magazines like Eyefull, Wink, Titter, and Beauty Parade.
She began posing for mail-order photos with various themes like bondage. She became the first bondage model. She did this work from 1952-1957. She was also used by a photographer names Irving Klaw. He was the photographer that she posed for for the mail-order and the specialty films, that were catered to his clients specific requests. She did fetish photography, took acting classes, got several roles on television and stage. She also did erotic dances for well-known striptease artists. She was known as Mrs. Pinup girl of the world after appearing in Hefner’s, Playboy Magazine, in 1955.
Her Marriages and Films
She even appeared on The United States Steel Hour and The Jackie Gleason Show. She appeared off Broadway in productions like Time is a Thief and Sunday Costs Five Pesos. She acted and danced in the film Striporama. Her voice was once captured on film, the only time ever, when she was given a brief speaking role. the films were said to have been risque, mildly so, but showed no nudity and nothing overly salacious.
The photographer Bunny Yeager published a book called Bettie Page Confidential, and it was published in 1994.
She ended her modeling career after concerting to Christianity, and becoming a born-again Christian. She attended a church that is now called The Key West Baptist Church, being drawn to the environment. She attended three bible colleges in Florida, Los Angeles, and in Portland, Oregon.
She married again in 1958. She divorced Armond Walterson in 1963.
She tried to become a missionary in Africa, during the 60s, but was rejected for having had a divorce. Over the next few years she worked for Christian organizations and final settled into Nashville in 1963. She even worked full-time for the Reverend Billy Graham.
She remarried her first husband, Billy Neal, and this gained her entrance into missionary work. However, the two divorced quickly. She returned to Florida in 1967, and again married Harry Lear. Again she and Lear divorced in 1972.
After moving to California in 1979, she had a situation with her landlord, and soon after suffered a nervous breakdown. She spent 20 months in a state mental hospital after her doctor found she suffered of acute schizophernia. She was arrested after a fight with another landlord , and then was arrested for assault. She was found not guilty by reason on insanity and was then put under state supervision for eight entire years. 1992, saw her released from Patton State Hospital, in California.
She was unaware of the cult following that was designed around her in the 80s. Her fans began to wonder just what happened to Bettie following the 50s. She was listed in Book of Lists as yet another famous celebrity who had somehow vanished from the spotlight.
Cult DVD’s were rereleased in the 80’s and on, including her fetish work, videos, and shorts (on DVD).
Her filmography includes Striporama from 1953, Varietease in 1954, Teaserama in 1955, Irving Claw Bondage Volume I in 1984, Volume II in 1984, Bettie Page Pin Up Queen in 2005, Bondage Queen in 2005, and Bizarro Sex loops, Volume 20, in 2008. Most of her films still exist on DVD.
On December 11, 2008, Bettie Page passed away, at 6:41 PM PST. She had been on life support following her December heart attack.
Find out more about this icon at her official website www.bettiepage.com