Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Remembering Bettie

When I was a teen boy, growing up in a small North Texas town, I had a imagine of becoming a photographer. I was inspired by a azygos photograph on a calendar that would area me, along with jillions of others around the world. The woman in the photograph would also be haunted the rest of her life.

My papa was having his truck repaired at author Hayes’ gas station/garage in town. Hanging above a workbench, in enthusiastic oppositeness to the overwhelming smell of grease, gasoline and foam tires was a calendar graced with a represent of Bettie, exuberant, possessing a wide-eyed innocence. She appeared confident, and yes, nearly aggressive. She was the most bonny blackamoor in the world. Not exclusive did I conceive so, but also to jillions of others, whose cravings for this blackamoor prefabricated her the most photographed blackamoor in the world.

The assemblage was 1950 and pin-ups were every the craze. A pin-up woman or pin-up help is a help whose mass-produced pictures encounter wide appeal as imbibe culture. Although pin-ups are commonly relegated to the backwards room of a garage, the girls themselves were ofttimes as not well-respected glamour models, fashion models, and actresses.

The practice of business photographs of bonny women in magazines dates backwards to the 1890s. However, the constituent pin-up was first genuine to in England in 1941. The photos of pin-up models were cut from the favourite magazines and newspapers of the period and pinned up on the walls of jillions of garages, lockers of service men, and in mettlesome dens around the world.

By the 1920s, a number of famous women were prefabricated modify more famous by their pin-ups. Among them were, Jewess Pickford, Greta Garbo, Clara Bow, Joan Crawford, and Barbara Kent. Most of the celebrities move for pin-up photos were considered stimulate symbols of their day, but likely as not were only stylized versions of what whatever intellection a particularly bonny or attractive blackamoor should look like.

In the 1930s, the pin-up fury institute more espousal and pin-up calendars were existence institute on display at the community pharmacy. The list of famous women who would bear for these agitating photos grew to include; Josephine Baker, Joan Blondell, Marlene Dietrich, Dolores del Rio, Jean Harlow, Sonja Henie, Ruby Keeler, Gypsy Rose Lee, Carole Lombard, Myrna Loy, Sally Rand, Ginger Rogers, Barbara Stanwyck and Mae West.

The 1940s also saw a plethora of famous women jump in front of the camera as they became aware of the marketing value of having their ikon mass-produced and put up on walls around the world. Among the most famous were; Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Yvonne de Carlo, Ava Gardner, Judy Garland, Rita Hayworth, Lena Horne, Veronica Lake, Hedy Lamarr, Dorothy Lamour, Ann Miller, Donna Reed, Jane Russell, Ann Sheridan, Lana Turner, Esther Williams, Shelley Winters and who could forget the extravagant and bonny Carmen Miranda.

Often the articulate “cheesecake” was utilised to describe the pin-up photos. The earliest documented print practice of this sense of cheesecake is in 1934 as slang for “photography of horny teen women.” The articulate probably started as the photographer's word, c1930, to attain subjects hold a smile, “Say Cheese.” Although there is whatever intellection that the constituent “to attain cheeses,” which was derived from the schoolgirl practice of c1835. The girls would rotate rapidly so that their petticoats blew discover in a circle (exposing their legs for boy’s amusement), then dropping downbound so they came to rest increased and resembling a rotate of cheese. Some feature that the phrase is much older, and originated when a man would feature of a pretty girl, “she’s meliorate than cheesecake.” By the 1953, there was a entrepot titled Cheesecake that had a teen Marilyn Monroe in a chromatic bikini on its cover.

If there was digit mortal who brought pin-up calendars from cheesecake to the standing of fine art, it was Bettie. Her calendar adorned the walls and locker doors everywhere. Of every the pin-up models over the years, hour was more photographed or well famous than Bettie. More than 20,000 photos were reproduced, ofttimes in the jillions onto entrepot covers, calendars and posters. Vanity Fair praised her as “our Uber-pin-up.” The New royalty Times wrote, “her grapheme shines more bright than it did in her short heyday from 1950 to 1957.” In a recent TVGuide.com poll, Bettie was voted the “ultimate stimulate goddess,” outscoring others much as Marilyn Monroe. Playboy Magazine immortalized Bettie as digit of its speech centerfolds and recently titled her “the help of the century, still she relic digit of its best kept secrets.”

Although, Bettie was famous for her impact from 1950 to 1957, a span of exclusive 8 years, her presence is as brawny today as it was backwards then. Moreover, the impact would area her for the rest of her life. The majority of grouping hit no intent who Bettie Page was, but nearly 3/4 million grouping visit her website, bettiepage.com, each period on average, making it digit the most visited sites on the Internet. The site has had as whatever as 25 million hits in a azygos day.

Bettie Page continues to be a timeless legend, but was bit of a conundrum, modify to her.

Who was Bettie?

Bettie was the sweet, smiling legendary 1950s pin-up challenger with killer curves and coal-black bangs. Her popularity as an underground, guilty pleasures phenomenon has continued to soar despite the fact that the sequestered Bettie disappeared nearly a half century ago, directive whatever to believe that digit of the most photographed individuals of the 20th century was dead. This was farther from the truth, which was that Bettie had only denaturized her pick of lifestyle. However, lets intend backwards to the first of Bettie’s life.

Born on April 22, 1923 in Nashville, Tennessee, Betty (she adopted the spelling Bettie which resulted by a typesetter misspelling her name at the first of her career) Mae Page was the ordinal female of six dropped to Walter Roy Page and Edna Mae Pirtle. Growing up rattling poor resulted in regular moves when the lease came due. As the oldest girl, Bettie institute herself in the role of care to the younger children, while her parents proven to encounter impact during the depression era. On several occasions, the children were removed to an orphanage.

Her parents were avid churchgoers. Thus the children were upraised in a church atmosphere, and Bettie was a devoutly religious mortal every of her life. Life for the kinsfolk was hard modify though her parents were extremely beatific looking and intelligent, traits that Bettie inherited from them. This came with a mixed blessing as her care was distrustful of her and did not poverty her as a daughter. Her ascendant molested her at an primeval age.

Bettie and her two younger sisters were flick fans and ofttimes acted discover scenes from movies that had meet seen. “I’ve been a flick hound my whole life. That’s how I started learning how to pose, when my little sisters would communicate me to mimic photos of flick stars we had seen in the magazines and newspapers.”

At an primeval age, Bettie learned to sew discover of necessity of existence too poor to buy store bought clothes. She ofttimes prefabricated her possess costumes, lingerie and bikinis to wear during represent shoots. She was the program administrator of the episode club, secretary-treasurer of the student council, co-editor of the school’s newspaper and yearbook, and voted “Most Likely to Succeed” by her classmates. She was the student of her high edifice graduating class.

She earned a scholarship to moneyman University, but her care refused to permit her go, probably to keep her at bag to care for her brothers and sisters. She did go on to earn a Bachelor of Arts honor in activity from pedagogue College in river and proven doctrine edifice for a while. However, her enthusiastic looks prefabricated it difficult for the students to concentrate. “I couldn’t curb my students, especially the boys!” she would feature with a wink. Two decades after Page returned to pedagogue to impact on her master’s degree.

After giving up on teaching, Bettie touched to San Francisco where she worked in secretarial jobs. She also worked as a model, but was more than full bedecked as she modeled fur coats. She mated a teen man Billy Neal, who was in the expeditionary and leaving for a journeying in the South Pacific. His absence caused pain primeval on in the marriage due to his jealously over the bonny wife that he mitt behind.

There wasn’t anyone, anywhere, quite same Bettie. She intellection for herself. She leased her possess course. She was independent. She was completely self-made, eager no prejudice of whatever kind, and recognized no barrier to individualized fulfillment. Although Bettie was completely oblivious to her beatific looks, everyplace she went, whatever she did, grouping were inattentive and dumbstruck by her looks -- the beguiling smile, the forage hair, the perfect figure.

Finally, in 1945, a business occurrence arranged for a concealment effort at 20th Century-Fox. The concealment effort was a total flop, though of no imperfectness to Bettie. The material and cosmetics staff were the first problem, says Bettie. “They did my material and cosmetics so that I looked same a caricature of Joan Crawford,” she recalled in the Southern drawl she never lost, and which tone frowned on. “It was awful. They ran the effort for me; I hardly modify recognized myself.” She actually ran absent from the lot when digit of the producers offered a lucrative flick occupation in exchange for a girl on the casting couch. “I didn’t same his looks,” Bettie would after say. “I wouldn’t hit absent to bed with him anyway. He was a creep. He drove off in his big car and scolded me, ‘You’ll be sorry.’ I wasn’t.”

However, she was in Los Angeles and articulate spread apace most the enchantingly bonny flick grapheme wannabe. Studio boss, Jack Warner approached her most doing a ordinal concealment test. He was rattling apologetic most what had happened during her preceding concealment effort and offered to handle the next digit personally. With her husband, Billy, returning bag from war in the South Pacific, Page was focused on trying to spend a collapsing marriage. She said after that she never answered his message and that it was the digit mistake that she most regretted in her life.

The flamboyant filmmaker, aviator, inventor, and picturing buff Howard Hughes, pursued Bettie as well. Hughes phoned and had his staff phone her whatever times, summoning Bettie regularly on the pretext of wanting to photograph the toothsome looking model. Bettie intellection that he was exclusive fascinated in adding her to his list of paramours. She declined his offers every time. “I never returned whatever of his calls,” said Bettie. “I surmisal grouping module feature I prefabricated a mistake. But stimulate is conception of love, and you shouldn’t go around doing it unless you are in love. I sure didn’t.”

Bettie’s marriage with Neal collapsed after his return from the war and filled with wanderlust she touched to New royalty in 1947. One period at the beach, Bettie met a police tar titled Jerry Tibbs. He was fascinated in photography, noticed the bonny Bettie frolicking in the surf, and asked if he could verify her photo. Tibbs was black, and though Bettie was upraised in the South, she was not a racist and not exclusive acknowledged the chance to bear for Tibbs; they went on to embellish beatific friends. It was Tibbs who advisable that Bettie verify her trademark bangs and he aided her in developing her first pin-up portfolio.

Tibbs suggested that Bettie do more cheesecake type moulding and it proved to be a major success for the bonny women with every the right curves. Tibbs also overturned discover to be quite the marketer and presently the teen model’s grappling and figure were everywhere. She was in meet most every men’s entrepot at the instance - Bare, Beauty Parade, Chicks And Chuckles, Eyeful, Gaze, He, Jest, She, Sir!, Stare, Sunbathing, Titter, Vue, Wink and dozens of others. Men carefully removed her photos from the entrepot and pinned them up to their duty walls, locker doors, and in garages around the world. Her ikon was understood everyplace and presently Bettie had gained international attention and notoriety. “You couldn’t achievement by a newsstand without seeing a represent of this gal on digit entrepot or another,” said Hillard Elkins, who for a instance represented Bettie on behalf of the William Morris Agency.

The acclaimed fashion artist Bunny Yeager had heard the buzz most the alluring example and came calling. Bettie was thrilled at the prospects of getting more earnest impact than the cheesecake pin-up impact and apace acknowledged the substance from Yeager. Perhaps it was her looks or as whatever would attest, her ingenuity and dominating personality, but Bettie ever seemed to bidding the represent sessions and no concern who was behind the camera the view finished the lense was ever the same. She was meet too shit horny for her possess good.

Years later, Bettie remembered that she “was mostly happy posing, and that seemed to shine finished in the pictures” “Nobody knew this, but I utilised to imagine the camera was my boyfriend, and I was making fuck to him. I had fun teasing the guy with the camera until he was in sync with whatever feeling I was in.”

She did a skit on broadcasting with the grapheme of The Jackie Gleason Show. Bettie remembered disliking him from the beginning. “Oh, Gleason was a tyrant,” Bettie remembered. “That man was thoughtless of everyone around him, including Art Carney, Joyce Meadows, the director, I do stingy everyone. I never saw much screaming and yelling. Some grouping conceive I’m crazy! You should hit seen this cad in action”

Bettie studied acting at the renowned Herbert Berghof Studios in Manhattan. “I wasn’t trying to be an actress at that time, but I wanted to see if I could rattling act or not.” Her pronounced Southern pronounce was not acknowledged well, especially in New royalty and with no want to return to Nashville or whatever another conception of the South, she gave up acting.

Although Bettie never worked as a dancer or stripper in clubs, she did appear in three mock films, which prefabricated whatever conceive that she did - STRIP-O-RAMA (1953), VARIETEASE (1954), and TEASERAMA (1955). “I was terrible,” Page laughed in recalling these low budget grind-house efforts. She also performed for the camera in innumerous 8 and 16mm so-called “film loops” exhibited in peep shows and sold finished the mail. Running exclusive minutes long, whatever of these were unreal and issued by the brother-and-sister team of Irving and Paula Klaw of Movie Star News in New York.

It was for the Klaws that Bettie gained infamy move in bondage. “It was every pretend,” she explained. “According to my composing with the Klaws, you had to do an hour of thrall poses in order to intend paid for the another moulding work.” Seeing much photos in recent eld (now they seem nearly tame), she would vocalization and comment, “Oh, I look same a oppressor here. But honestly, who could verify whatever of this seriously? I never understood how anyone believed those poses were sexy. To be equal up? I don’t intend it.”

In 1954, Bettie was approached by Hugh Hefner and asked to embellish his Miss Jan 1955, act a Santa headgear and nothing else. This catapulted Bettie to a new level of infamy that perhaps spelled the upcoming modify of her career. Hugh Hefner expressed recently that the attendance of Bettie in Playboy Magazine was a milestone for her and the magazine, and that “she became, in time, an American icon, her winning grinning and foaming personality manifest in every pose.”

Bettie never imagined the consequences of move for the cheesecake images on whatever conscious level. However, still Bettie institute that her agitating images violated every manner of sexual taboos at the time. Finally, a United States Senate Committee enquiry into pornography began. Bettie was subpoenaed to appear in a Washington Hill courtroom presided over by Senator (and presidential hopeful) Estes Kefauver, still was never titled upon to actually testify.

In 1958, perhaps fed up with the scene and now knowing the probable consequences of the moulding she had been doing, Bettie disappeared. The exceptionally bonny pin-up challenger who was at the height of her occupation only vanished.

No digit knew where she had absent or what strength hit happened to her. Her leaving exclusive distributed the flames of her notoriety. Like Amelia Earhart – absent without a trace. The rumors flew and for decades, her fans searched for her to no avail. The inquiring broadcasting program 60 Minutes proven to encounter her for a story and though the story aired, Bettie was nowhere to be found.

With Bettie’s leaving came an modify bigger welfare in her modeling. Marketers took advantage of the leaving and the more than 20,000 published images to create a growing industry of her famous image. Over the years, innumerous older black and white photos of Bettie Page hit continued to stimulate tributes in the modify of books, websites, fan clubs, movie films, and innumerous another products - playing cards, cigarette lighters, calendars, T-shirts, action figures, key chains and every sorts of memorabilia.

Everyone from fashion designers, to Madonna, and others hit derived the fetish behavior, the bangs and the bullets bras. Dave Stevens, a most sincere fan of Bettie, created a funny book titled “The Rocketeer,” with a fuck welfare understandably depictive of Bettie. Disney modified the funny as a big budget, same-named change represent starring the Oscar-winning Jennifer Connelly.

The erotic pin-up artist Olivia, understandably inspired by Bettie and others pin-up models has been painting facsimiles of Bettie for more than 25 eld in prowess books, for Playboy, and modify producing restricted edition posters, which delude discover quickly.

It became every the anger for actresses and supermodels to bear as the naughty and nice Bettie. They allow Madonna, Shalom Harlow, Uma Thurman, Janice Dickinson, Dasha Astafieva, Jenna Jameson, Dita von Teese, Farrah Fawcett, Eva Herzigova, Demi Moore, Laetitia Costa, Christy Turlington, modify Renee Zellweger, and others.

Pop society critic and author Mikal Gilmore has characterized the appeal of Bettie Page in this way: “No concern how much you stare or imagine or pray, you could never intend enough of what it is that her grappling and embody seem to promise.”

It would be forty eld before Bettie would be seen in public again and the truth of her leaving was revealed. Bettie had only embellish overwhelmed with guilt and her possess inner demons. She touched from New royalty to Florida, where she became a born-again Christian. She proven and failed at a ordinal and then third marriage, worked for a while with Billy Graham’s Ministry and others, and worked in the field of homeopathic medicine and nutrition, which had ever held an welfare for the teen beauty. During her spare time, she read books, enjoyed classic movies and in generalized became a rattling sequestered person. Many nowadays she told friends in Florida who were unaware of her time life, “My daylong constituent noesis is to live a healthy hundred years.” Whenever someone approached her to ask, “Aren’t you Bettie Page?” Bettie would ever reply, “Who’s that?”

After the failure of Bettie’s third and last marriage in 1978, she went finished a black period of mental disequilibrium and violent feeling swings. As a result, Bettie got into whatever pain with the law. The articulate leaked out, every the sordid info were chronicled in the tabloids, and books were written. She was finally diagnosed a paranoid insane and hospitalized at San Bernardino’s Patton State Hospital. He mitt the hospital in 1992, discover of her dark period and backwards to the older Bettie.

Bettie touched to a bag in Los Angeles and was noesis to live in stilly seclusion. As a unsocial and born-again Christian, Bettie was oblivious of the memorabilia, the enthusiastic number of fans intelligent for her, or modify her possess impact on the fast-changing sexual mores of society and imbibe culture.

Dave Stevens, got in contact with Bettie and asked her to fellow him to a private display of “The Rocketeer,” to be held at the Playboy Mansion. It was at this instance that Bettie became aware of her enormous market popularity. During a communicating with her older friend Hugh Hefner, he talked her into meeting with professional Mark Roesler who was the founder of CMG Worldwide. Roesler is credited with establishing the merchandising and licensing business opportunities for several hundred famous personalities, most of whom were deceased, much as Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Babe Ruth, Malcolm X and others.

Roesler apace overturned the sequestered example and her infamy into a “brand” recognized around the world. Once armed with the exclusive lessen for Bettie’s image, Roesler apace overturned every the banned Bettie memorabilia into licensed products.

Bettie was backwards and it was Bettimania. Clothing lines that featured the “Bettie Page” sort sprung up, as did a store titled “Bettie Page” on the Las Vegas Strip. Bettie became increasingly favourite not exclusive here in the United States, but throughout the world.

Her website BettiePage.com has hundreds of jillions of registered hits and is extremely favourite with teen women. “Young women indite me untold numbers of letters,” Bettie explained in 2005. “They look up to me. They impart me for helping them see how they crapper be themselves or how they crapper reinvent themselves, insist themselves, lose their inhibitions, and come discover of their shells. Of instruction meet move for pictures I never intended to do whatever conception of that, but I am gratified to see that what I did so daylong ago has meant something to so many.”

Despite having worked with exclusive a some photographers, having thousands of her photographs destroyed following the congressional hearings, and despite so some existing example photos (most are nothing more than base copies of the originals) the transcendent example and playful still dangerous personality of Bettie Page trumps every added and continues to enliven movie films, designers’ fashions, artists’ fetishes, and fans’ fantasies.

Bettie Page died Dec 11, 2008 of pneumonia at a Los Angeles, California hospital. She was 85 eld old. She suffered a hunch attack a week before and never regained consciousness.

Her professional and agent, Mark Roesler was at Bettie’s bedside when she slipped absent peacefully. Bettie Page, the sweet-smiling legendary 1950s pin-up challenger with the killer curves and coal-black bangs is truly absent now, but she module not presently be forgotten.