Thursday, December 11, 2008
GIRL NEXT DOOR PIN-UP QUEEN IS DEAD
Bettie Page was voted one of Playboy's 100 sexiest women ever. Several years ago I tracked her down and she agreed to a one on one exclusive interview. The story I did won an Associated Press Award in 2000. On Saturday morning I'll play the interview sometime between 6:00 and 8:00 a.m. Bettie had some flaws. She was naive and didn't always make the correct decisions... but it is amazing how she found God and walked away from one life and into another and stayed out of view for so long. At the end of the interview she told me how cute i was and gave me a kiss on the cheek. How many people can say they've been kissed by Bettie Page? Richard
Here is an associated press story on a woman who charmed several generations.
Bettie Page, the 1950s secretary-turned-model whose controverisal photographs in skimpy attire or none at all helped set the stage for the 1960s sexual revolution, died Thursday. She was 85.
Page suffered a heart attack last week and never regained consciousness. Before the heart attack, Page had been hospitalized for three weeks with pneumonia.
"She captured the imagination of a generation of men and women with her free spirit and unabashed sensuality," her agent said. "She is the embodiment of beauty."
Page, who was also known as Betty, attracted national attention with magazine photographs of her sensuous figure in bikinis and see-through lingerie that quickly were tacked up on walls in military barracks, garages and elsewhere, where they remained for years.
Her photos included a centerfold in the January 1955 issue of then-fledgling Playboy magazine. She latter helped contribute to her mysterious disappearance from the public eye, which lasted decades and included years during which she battled mental illness and became a born again Christian.
She rarely granted interviews but refused to allow her picture to be taken.
"I don't want to be photographed in my old age," she said. "I feel the same way with old movie stars. ... It makes me sad. We want to remember them when they were young."
The 21st century indeed had people remembering her just as she was. She became the subject of songs, biographies, websites, comic books, movies and documentaries. A new generation of fans bought thousands of copies of her photos, and some feminists hailed her as a pioneer of women's liberation.
Gretchen Mol portrayed her in 2005's The Notorious Bettie Page and Paige Richards had the role in 2004's Bettie Page: Dark Angel. Page herself took part in the 1998 documentary Betty Page: Pinup Queen.
Her career was launched one day in October 1950 when she took a respite from her job as a secretary in a New York office for a walk along the beach at Coney Island. An amateur photographer named Jerry Tibbs admired the 27-year-old's firm, curvy body and asked her to pose.
Looking back on the career that followed, she told Playboy in 1998, "I never thought it was shameful. I felt normal. It's just that it was much better than pounding a typewriter eight hours a day, which gets monotonous."
Nudity didn't bother her, she said, explaining: "God approves of nudity. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, they were naked as jay birds."
In 1951 Page cut her hair into the dark bangs that became her signature and posed in spiked heels and little else. She was often photographed with a whip in her hand.
Moralists denounced the photos as perversion, and Sen. Estes Kefauver of Tennessee, Page's home state, launched a congressional investigation.
Page quickly retreated from public view, saying later that she was hounded by federal agents who waved her nude photos in her face. She also said she believed that, at age 34, her days as "the girl with the perfect figure" were nearly over.
She moved to Florida in 1957 and married a much younger man (an early marriage to her high school sweetheart had ended in divorce).
Her second marriage also failed, as did a third, and she suffered a nervous breakdown.
In 1959, she was lying on a sea wall in Key West when she saw a church with a white neon cross on top. She walked inside and became a born again Christian.
After attending Bible school, she wanted to serve as a missionary but was turned down because she had been divorced. Instead she worked full-time for evangelist Billy Graham's ministry.
Born April 22, 1923, in Nashville, Page said she grew up in a family so poor "we were lucky to get an orange in our Christmas stockings."
The family included three boys and three girls.
After the Pages moved to Houston, her father decided to return to Tennessee and stole a police car for the trip. He was sent to prison, and for a time Betty lived in an orphanage.
In her teens she acted in high school plays, going on to study drama in New York and to win a screen test from 20th Century Fox before her modeling career took off.