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Bettie Page: Vintage photos of the "Queen of Pinups", 1950s


Popularly known as the Queen of Pinups, she was renowned for her free-spirited demeanor and immaculate sexuality. Her trademark short bangs, natural brunette hair, bright blue eyes, and sensual figure were and still is influential to the cast.

After her death, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner called her "a remarkable woman, an iconic figure in pop culture who influenced sexuality, tastes in fashion, someone who made a tremendous impact on our society".

A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Page lived in California during her early adult years before moving to New York City to work as an actress. There, she found work as a pin-up model, and she posed for dozens of photographers in the 1950s.

Page was "Miss January 1955", one of the early Playmates of the Month for Playboy Magazine. After years of oblivion, he experienced a resurgence of popularity in the 1980s.

In 1959, Page converted to evangelical Christianity and worked for Billy Graham, studying at Bible Colleges in Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon, with the intention of becoming a missionary.

The later part of Page's life was marked with depression, violent mood swings, and several years in a state psychiatric hospital with paranoid schizophrenia.


In late 1947, Page moved to New York City, where she hoped to find work as an actress, within days she was sexually assaulted by a group of men, and returned home to Nashville, where she Worked for the local rail service for some time. ,

Within weeks, she returned to New York, becoming a secretary to a real-estate developer and an insurance broker who shared offices in the Eastern Airlines Building in Rockefeller Plaza.

In 1950, while walking along Coney Island, Betty met NYPD officer Jerry Tibbs, an avid photographer, and gave Betty his card. He suggested that she be a good pin-up model.

In exchange for allowing her to take a picture of him, he'll help build her first pin-up portfolio, for free.
Tibbs suggested Betty style her hair with bangs in the front, so as not to reflect light from her high forehead while photographed. Bangs soon became an integral part of her distinctive look.


In the late 1940s, "camera clubs" were formed to circumvent laws prohibiting the production of nude photographs. These camera clubs existed ostensibly to promote artistic photography, but were, in fact, only frontiers for creating many adult content.

Page entered the field of "glamor photography" as a popular camera club model, initially working with photographer Cass Carr.

Her lack of posing made her a hit, and her name and image quickly became known in the erotic photography industry. In 1951, Betty's image appeared in such men's magazines as Wink, Titor, Eyeful and Beauty Parade.


From late 1951 or early 1952 to 1957, she posed for photographer Irving Claw for pin-up and mail-order photographs with BDSM themes, making her the first famous bondage model.

Claw also used Pages in dozens of short, black-and-white 8mm and 16mm "special" films, which met the specific requests of his clients.

These silent one-reel features depict women dressed in lingerie and heels, acting out pagan scenarios of kidnapping, domination, and slave-training; Bondage, spanking, and elaborate leather costumes and restraints were incorporated from time to time. Page alternately plays the role of a stern dominatrix, and ties the arms and legs of a helpless victim.


In 1954, during one of his annual vacations in Miami, Florida, Page interviewed photographers John Caldwell, H. W. Hannou and Bunny met Yeager.

At the time, Page was the top pin-up model in New York. Yeager, a former model, and aspiring photographer, signed on to pose for a photo session at Africa USA, the now-closed wildlife park in Boca Raton, Florida. The "Jungle Betty" photos from this shoot are among her most famous photos.

These include nude shots with a pair of cheetahs named Mojah and Mabilly. Page herself created the leopard skin patterned Jungle Girl outfit, as well as most of her lingerie.

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