Friday, December 12, 2008

We've Lost An Original

Pinup model Bettie Page -- she was on more magazine covers than Cindy Crawford -- passed away yesterday.

I have long admired Miss Page's grit and positive attitude.[1] Growing up poor and unappreciated, in circumstances for which "difficult" is an understatement, she was salutarian of her High School graduating class and went on to achieve a teaching degree, only to discover that at 5' 3" and wildly attractive, teaching High School students was next to impossible.[2]

She stumbled into pinup work ten years older than most of her peers -- and thanks to good genes and healthy living, kept at it ten years later than most models, too. (Yes, boys, any time you see a photo of Bettie with an age listed, add a decade). Rather than be exploited, she undertook posing for pinups as a craft, one she worked at but never took too seriously; and that undoubtedly contributed to her enduring appeal.

Bon voyage, Bettie Page. There will forever be imitators but there's only one Bettie.

(Update: Dave Stevens, the artist who dreamed up The Rocketeer, also passed away this year, back in March. If the Disney film is all you've seen, the connection is that in the comic books, the Rocketeer's girlfriend is named "Bettie" and is very obviously Bettie Page. Another connection is, Dave led the effort to find Bettie in retirement and pay her royalties for the use of her image. ...At Dave Stevens website, I found his drawing of me. Not really, but after having been told by strangers for years that I look just like someone they know, I've finally seen her).
1. I also borrowed her trademark hairstyle, long ago, and have kept it ever since.
2. Don't scoff -- one of my H.S. English teachers was a near-twin of Marilyn Monroe and maintained control in the classroom only by dint of near-superhuman mind games.


Turk Turon said...

Very sorry to hear it. About a week ago I read that she was very ill, but one can always hope...

Where else but in America? Have you seen a recent photo of Brigitte Bardot? I rest my case.

And those bangs! If you need me I'll be in my bunk.

Captcha: hemodeds (something to do with blood?)

George said...

I hope that Bettie's spirit can appreciate and thank you for this small tribute to her. Judging from her last days, she didn't go easily and, sometimes, that's all we can get.

The video associated with the article in Yahoo had several examples of her pin-ups. Hot, hot, hot.


JAFO said...

Damn you, reaper!! Damn you to hell!!

Bettie Page. My introduction to the allure and mystery that is a confident women in just enough to leave the rest to the imagination.

If you need me I'll be in my rack..

phlegmfatale said...

Amazing how there was a kind of innocenct to Bettie's wide-eyed enthusiasm. loved her.

Less said...

Being a former skin/punk rocker, most of my ex-girlfriends went through the Bettie Page bang period, but none of them captured the innocence.

If you look on youtube, there are a couple of mild-strip tease-esque short vids with her:

The way she moves, etc is just so funny/cheesy - I'd like to think that I can see that she did it for fun and that she didn't care... I hope other folks can dig on that and not think I'm some perv or something.

Anonymous said...

I knew she was ill, so I expected to see this, but it's still awfully sad.

I'd fly a Page pinup proudly any day and pretty much anywhere except maybe a particularly straight-laced church.

Jim said...

Betty, RIP, was part of my callow youth. but I recalled only the bikini and lingerie photos. A google search after reading of her passing shows she was a much more revealing person. And prettier as she got older.

(I suppose the search will get me detained next time Big Brother's airport elves examine my laptop.)


Arcadia Iris said...

Bettie Page has been someone I've looked up to for quite some time. I love that she made many of her costumes herself, and would just love to see models today get off their high horse long enough to even thread a needle. I love it that many of Bettie's pictures are just of her having fun, not always posed in provocative ways that you'll rarely see the average woman standing. And I love it that she didn't fight to get control of all the pictures and hide them when she found out about the resurgence in her popularity. She had been a Christian for many years by then, but did not try to cover her past and act like it never happened. She took the approach that who she had been was part of who she eventually became. She's the only model I've ever really wanted to be like, because she was more than her looks. It thrilled me when I saw her show up in L. Neil Smith's "Roswell, Texas". I believe she has achieved immortality. You just can't really die when so many people love you.

Anonymous said...

Not just an original, but one of a kind.