Bettie Page

40

Bettie Page : biography

April 22, 1923 – December 11, 2008

In 1954, during one of her annual vacations to Miami, Florida, Page met photographers Jan Caldwell, H. W. Hannau and Bunny Yeager. At that time, Page was the top pin-up model in New York. Yeager, a former model and aspiring photographer, signed Page for a photo session at the now-closed wildlife park Africa USA in Boca Raton, Florida. The Jungle Bettie photographs from this shoot are among her most celebrated. They include nude shots with a pair of cheetahs named Mojah and Mbili. The leopard skin patterned Jungle Girl outfit she wore was made, along with much of her lingerie, by Page herself. A large collection of the Yeager photos, and Klaw’s, were published in the book Bettie Page Confidential (St. Martin’s Press, 1994).

After Yeager sent shots of Page to Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, he selected one to use as the Playmate of the Month centerfold in the January 1955 issue of the two-year-old magazine. The famous photo shows Page, wearing only a Santa hat, kneeling before a Christmas tree holding an ornament and playfully winking at the camera.

In 1955, Page won the title "Miss Pinup Girl of the World". She also became known as "The Queen of Curves" and "The Dark Angel". While pin-up and glamour models frequently have careers measured in months, Page was in demand for several years, continuing to model until 1957. Although she frequently posed nude, she never appeared in scenes with explicit sexual content.

In 1957, Page gave "expert guidance" to the FBI regarding the production of "flagellation and bondage pictures" in Harlem.

The reasons reported for her departure from modeling vary. Some reports mention the Kefauver Hearings of the United States Senate Special Committee to Investigate Crime in Interstate Commerce (after a young man apparently died during a session of bondage which was rumored to be inspired by bondage images featuring Page). However, the most obvious reason for ending her modeling career and severing all contact with her prior life was her conversion to born-again Christianity while living in Key West, Florida in 1959.Cook, Kevin: , Playboy.com, p. 4, January 1998.

Biographies

In 2004, Cult Epics produced the biographical film Bettie Page: Dark Angel. This low-budget straight-to-disc biopic centers on the 1953–1957 Irving Klaw period, faithfully recreating six lost fetish films she did for Klaw. Model Paige Richards plays the title role.

The Notorious Bettie Page (2005) follows her life from the mid-1930s through the late-1950s. It stars actress Gretchen Mol as the adult Page. Bonus footage added to the DVD release includes rare color film from the 1950s of Page playfully undressing and striking various nude poses for the camera.

In 2012, Bettie Page Reveals All was filmed and premiered, then released nationwide the following year. It was an authorized biographical documentary, by Academy Award nominated director Mark Mori. The documentary included narration from Bettie Page herself, culled from over 6 hours of interviews prior to her 2008 death. The film also included commentary from individuals such as Dita Von Teese, Hugh M. Hefner, Rebecca Romijn, Tempest Storm, Bunny Yeager, Paula Klaw, Mamie Van Doren and Naomi Campbell.

Revival

In 1976, Eros Publishing Co. published A Nostalgic Look at Bettie Page, a mixture of photos from the 1950s. Between 1978 and 1980, Belier Press published four volumes of Betty Page: Private Peeks, reprinting pictures from the private camera club sessions, which reintroduced Page to a new but small cult following. In 1983, London Enterprises released In Praise of Bettie Page — A Nostalgic Collector’s Item, reprinting camera club photos and an old cat fight photo shoot.

In the 70’s, artists Eric Stanton, Robert Blue and Olivia De Berardinis were among the first to start painting Bettie images. In 1979 artist Robert Blue had a show in LA at a gallery on Melrose “Steps Into Space” where he showed his collection of Bettie Page paintings. At that time in New York artist Olivia De Berardinis had begun painting Bettie for Italian jean manufacturer Fiorucci. Olivia has continued to paint Bettie, culminating in a book collecting this artwork “Bettie Page by Olivia” published by Ozone Productions, Ltd. in 2006, with a foreword by Hugh Hefner. To mark the millennium on an international scale, renowned Japanese artist Hajime Sorayama created original art of Bettie Page style placing her on the pedestal of highly accomplished beautiful women.