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Goodbye Bettie Page
The Sexy Bettie Page
BETTIE PAGE (1923 – 2008)
"I was not trying to be shocking, or to be a pioneer. I wasn't trying to change society, or to be ahead of my time. I didn't think of myself as liberated, and I don't believe that I did anything important. I was just myself. I didn't know any other way to be, or any other way to live." Bettie Page
Even though Bettie Page did not feel that she was a pioneer she was. Bettie Page was and still is an icon. The girl next door who went from being a secretary to a pin-up girl and a sex queen, with her trademark bangs and jet black hair she was a beauty unassuming who could easily switch from dominant to submissive in her roles. She took the world of pin-up to the next level. With her sex measurements 36-23-36 ½ at 5’5 ½” and weighing 128 lbs, she was a sight. Bettie took the 1950’s by storm causing controversy by becoming one of the first sex icons in America through fetish modeling, one of the first Playmates of the Month (January 1955) as well as a target of a Senate investigation because of her fetish pictures.
EARLY YEARS – Bettie Page was born on April 22, 1923 in NashvilleTennessee. Bettie’s parents divorced when she was a young girl and that left her to take care of her younger siblings. After graduating from high school Bettie went to college with the intention of becoming a teacher but went in a different direction studying acting with the hopes of becoming a movie star. A few years after graduating Bettie moved to New York to become an actress and worked as a secretary to make money until her big break. One day while walking along the shore she met a police officer who had an interest in photography and who created her first pin-up portfolio.
PIN-UP GIRL/SEX ICON – As a pin-up girl Bettie took the world by storm after her pin-up portfolio Page become a camera club model where she was a hit because of her inhibitions when it came to modeling. Camera club models were known for their erotic posing. Bettie’s name and image became quickly known in the erotic photography industry. By 1951 her pictures graced many men’s magazines making her the first famous bondage model. At the time Page also did about a dozen specialty films made for clients who had specific tastes. These silent films showed women clad in lingerie and high heels acting out fetishistic scenarios of abduction, domination, and slave-training with bondage, spanking, and elaborate leather costumes and restraints. Although these were fetish films they never featured any nudity or explicit sexual content.
PLAYMATE - Bettie Page was one of Playboy’s earliest playmates becoming Playboy Playmate of the Month January 1955, which also helped to catapult her into ultimate stardom. This created a great relationship between Bettie Page and Hugh Hefner Playboy Founder who said about Bettie Page "I think that she was a remarkable lady, an iconic figure in pop culture who influenced sexuality, taste in fashion, someone who had a tremendous impact on our society." Hugh Hefner became a very influential and important figure in Bettie Page’s life and it is obvious that Bettie made an incredible impression on Hugh Hefner as well.
STAR FADES – Bettie Page dropped out of public view in the 1960s amid many rumors as too her whereabouts and her mental health, there were many stories about what had happened to Bettie. It was during this time that Bettie was living a domestic life and becoming religious entering a seminary and working as a missionary. Although she faded into obscurity for over 20 years her star never really faded because her pictures and images continued to live on and it would take those 20 years for the world to show interest in her again and when they did she came back bigger and better.
REVIVAL – In the 1980’s there was a resurgence in popularity of Bettie Page brought about by books such as; A Nostalgic Look at Bettie Page and Betty Page: Private Peeks and the fanzine The Betty Pages. This prompted women to take on her signature looks with the black hair and bangs. With the help of the media much attention was given to Bettie Page bringing about a huge revival. Now there are so many things Bettie Page; playing cards, comic books, biographies, websites, and many others including a films of her life and times; Bettie Page: Dark Angel and The Notorious Bettie Page. Today there are acts like the Pussycat Dolls and Burlesque Dancers such as Dita Von Teese to name a few who owe their success to Bettie Page.
DEATH/POSTHUMOUS – Bettie Page died on December 11, 2008 in Los Angeles, California at the age of 85. It is said that Bettie suffered a heart attack and slipped into a coma. She had been in a coma for a while surviving on life support before deciding to let her go. In 2009 the official authorized documentary biography of Bettie Page is set to be released, directed by Mark Mori and including interviews with Bettie Page as well as the important figures in her life the film is titled Bettie Page Reveals All. I am certain that the film will not be the last we see of her we will continue to see more about and of Bettie Page in the years after her death.
Bettie Page was more than a pin-up girl, more than a playboy playmate and more than a fetish/bondage model she was and still is a true icon. Bettie Page’s openness when it came to modeling helped to change her from the girl next door to a superstar with her trademark looks and her fetish poses. Bettie Page was able to change the way we view beauty and sexuality through her pictures and movies. Bettie Page will be missed but her image will live on forever.