Saturday, 13 December 2008

Bettie Page

Bettie PageSad news - Bettie Page, the model who sparked sexual revolution, dies in LA at 85.

Aritice By David Usborne in New York Friday, 12 December 2008

Bettie Page, the raven-haired pin-up whose naughty-but-nice romps with whips, garters and high heels titillated a generation of young men in the post-war years, has died at the age of 85 after suffering a heart attack earlier this month and slipping into a coma.
Her career, which some claim laid the foundations for the sexual revolution that swept America in the 1960s, started almost by accident after she discovered that posing for amateur photographers in provocative poses and risque attire made her more money than secretarial work.

Ms Page’s fame was set after she was adopted by Irving Klaw and his sister, Paula, in 1951. The couple ran a Manhattan mail order business offering dirty pictures. Later, she was featured by Playboy as a centrefold, including a 1955 image of her winking under a Santa hat. “Bettie was one of the magazine’s early Playmates, and became an iconic figure, influencing notions of beauty and fashion,” Hugh Hefner, the magazine’s founder, said on hearing of her death. “Her passing is very sad.”

Ms Page disappeared for decades at the end of the Fifties, suffering serial broken marriages and devoting herself to Christianity. Even in her twilight years she suffered bouts of depression and ill health but was rediscovered in the late 1980s. She would occasionally make public appearances to sign photographs of herself as popular interest in her suddenly took off again.
To her astonishment, Ms Page has recently attained cult status. Madonna, Uma Thurman and Demi Moore are among contemporary stars who have at some time adopted Bettie Page poses, while in 2006 a movie, The Notorious Bettie Page, featured Gretchen Mol in the title role.

Ms Page had been admitted to hospital originally for treatment for pneumonia and was set to be released and sent home on 2 December when she suffered her heart attack. A representative said she never recovered consciousness and died late on Thursday.
“She captured the imagination of a generation of men and women with her free spirit and unabashed sensuality,” her agent, Mark Roesler, said yesterday. “She is the embodiment of beauty.”

Even though she conceded to the occasional public event, she never agreed to having her photograph taken again. “I don’t want to be photographed in my old age,” she said in 1998. “I feel the same way with old movie stars. It makes me sad. We want to remember them when they were young.”

After her early career peaked, Ms Page became exhibit number one in a congressional hearing into so-called immoral activities in Washington. The controversy prompted her disappearance from public view. It was while living in Florida that she had her born-again experience and committed herself to the church and to the ministry of the Rev Billy Graham.

In her later years, she defended the trade she pioneered. “I never thought it was shameful. I felt normal. It was better than pounding a typewriter eight hours a day, which gets monotonous,” she told Playboy in 1998. As for being featured undressed, that seemed fine too. “God approves of nudity,” she said. “Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, they were naked as jaybirds.”

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