The Infectious Bettie Page

Archive for December 2006

Did you know that both Hugh Hefner and Harlan Ellison refer to Bettie Page as the “Dark Marilyn”?


From the web site “Bud Planet” there is a fascinating article about Bettie …In The Life of a Pin-Up Legend, Stevens expounded on Betties appeal:

“She has an indescribable quality that separates her from all the other models of that time,” Stevens said. “You get a sense of pure joy from her, as though she just came alive for the camera and gave it her all. There’s a timeless quality about her that gives her images a real currency even though they were shot some 40 years ago. It’s an amazing feat, to be able to bridge time the way she does. She is embraced by both sexes, and she’s become a role model for young women — a maverick who did as she pleased without concern for the social restrictions of the time. Bettie was bold and independent when women just weren’t allowed to be that. That’s an admirable, risky quality that can invite trouble. Her image will still be around long after we’re gone.”

It’s especially intriguing that on the final page of The Life of a Pin-Up Legend, the authors quote a psychologist who studies facial appearance. The comments of Professor Michael Cunningham are a fascinating explanation of the ageless appeal of Bettie Page: “I took nine measurements of Bettie Page’s features using an electronic micrometer, and then standardized those measures as ratios to the size of the head, I compared Bettie’s facial metrics to a database containing measurements of both other stars and of uncelebrated women,” Cunningham said. “The numbers confirmed what most pin-up viewers might intuitively perceive. The height and width of Bettie Page’s eyes were much greater than average, giving her the appearance of child-like innocence and playfulness. That effect was compounded by her very large smile, and her eyebrows, which were set higher than average. The combination of child-like and expressive features made her face appear both open and non-threatening.”

Had Bettie’s cheekbones and chin been larger, she might have seemed intimidatingly beautiful. But those features were in the normal range, so the overall appearance is not that of an unobtainable ice princess, but rather that of a pleasant and eager-to-please girl next door. Bettie’s long-term appeal may be due, in part, to the contrast between her facial appearance and that of her body and apparel. Her face gives the impression of a sweet and wholesome girl who would not turn a guy down for a date or make him feel inadequate. At the same time, her black lace and sensuous pose suggest that the date will not be limited to a chat at the malt shop and a chaste kiss at the door. The perception of sweetness and sexuality, of pleasure without threat, may capture the heart of the ambivalent 20th Century American man.”

Have you heard of the “Tennesse Encyclopedia of History and Culture?” It’s a very charming, insightful and just plain “nice” site to visit. Lots of information … and one thing that really stood out for me is that Tennessee has had quite a few legends come out of that state … Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Buford Pusser (Walking Tall Fame), Bettie Page and others….

Their site has a short concise blurb about our Bettie . . . From their site verbatim, I give you the following:

“Bettie Page has been immortalized in bronze sculpture, song lyrics, paintings, comic books, and enough tattoo ink to flood a swimming pool. As the many tributes testify, the Nashville native reigns as an American pop culture icon. The 1950s pinup queen was born the second of five children to Roy and Edna Page in Nashville, April 22, 1923. Bettie’s early years were spent drifting throughout the South with her family as her father searched for employment. In 1933 Edna left Roy and moved back to Nashville, where she supported her children as a hairdresser.

Assessing her future possibilities, Page decided that education was her only means of escape from the poverty and instability she had known since birth. She excelled as a student at Hume-Fogg High School and graduated in 1940 as salutatorian, earning a scholarship to George Peabody College for Teachers. After graduating with a teaching degree, Page decided a career in education was not for her. She began to travel, making a living with secretarial work in San Francisco, Miami Beach, Haiti, and New York.

At Coney Island in 1950 Page met amateur photographer Jerry Tibbs, who took her first pinup photographs and convinced her to cut her famous bangs. She began modeling for camera clubs part time, soon becoming a favorite of “gentlemen’s magazines.” The most infamous of Page’s photographs were taken by Paula and Irving Klaw. Clad in leather, six-inch heels, metal cones, ball gags, or other fetish regalia, Bettie teased and spanked her way through hundreds of photo sessions and a few short films. After the Klaws were investigated in 1957 by a U.S. Senate subcommittee led by Tennessee’s Estes Kefauver, Page left modeling. In 1959 the ex-pinup devoted the rest of her life to the Christian faith. Bettie Page now lives in California, declining offers to be photographed, while the web page supported by her and her brother Jack adds to the mystique that attracts a new generation of admirers.”

Brenda Colladay, Nashville

Suggested Reading(s): Karen Essex and James L. Swanson, Bettie Page: The Life of a Pin-Up Legend (1996); Bunny Yeager, Betty Page Confidential (1994).

Turn off the Sonific music in the lower corner to hear Bettie in Teaserama…

Bettie Page Wallet

Still Need a Gift?   Here’s a item that will work all year ’round . . . the “Nurse Bettie” billfold / Wallet.  Pretty cool for us Die Hard Bettie Fans ….  :  )  Available here

Bettie Page is in her early 80’s and spends much of her time reading the Bible and listening to Christian music. She also likes Country and Western music and Westerns (her favorite movie is “Dark Victory” with Bettie Davis. Her response to the resurgance of her popularity is: “It makes me feel wonderful that people still care for me . . . that I have so many fans among young people, who write to me and tell me I have been an inspiration.”

Page rarely allows herself to be photographed because she wants people to remember her the way she was; a fresh-faced and a young beautiful woman. However, she did allow a photograph to be taken for the August 2003 edition of Playboy. Her hair had turned steel gray. Her face was fuller but still attractive and her eyes still sparkled. Perhaps most significantly, Betty Page is still wearing short bangs and smiling.

Bettie Page in Santa HatBettie Page appeared in the January 1955 issue as Playmate of the Month, nude except for a Santa hat. She did not pose for Playboy per se — the fledgling magazine bought an existing shot from photographer Bunny Yeager. Bettie’s pictures made a number of subsequent appearances in Playboy, and Hugh  Hefner has said that Bettie is one of his favorite Playmates of all time. “She had a saucy innocence that is both contemporary and provocative, and also nostalgic,” he says.  (Paragraph found

As stated in my 1st post, Bettie is now a “born again Christian,” and in keeping an honest and respectful approach, (no nudity or very little on this blog) out of respect for her — I have only posted her head shot
:   )      Merry Christmas!

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