Bettie Page, whose trademark raven hair, risqué lingerie and bondage pin-up photos made her a cult favorite, died Thursday night at a Los Angeles hospital — nine days after suffering a heart attack. She was 85.
Page was born Betty Mae Page in Nashville, Tenn. on April 22, 1923. Smart and ambitious as a teenager, she was the salutatorian of her high school graduation class and was voted "Most Likely to Succeed." She earned a scholarship to attend George Peabody College, where she studied acting.
Page's famous pin-up days lasted from 1951-1957, where her slinky, curvy and scantily-clad or nude body graced magazines, including Wink, Beauty Parade, Twitter and Playboy. The Heff crowned Page Playmate of the Month in January of 1955. The same year she was also named "Miss Pinup Girl of the World."
Her photo and film work often depicted Page in pin-up, bondage or sadomasochistic themes, including the iconic (and highest selling) images of the model shown gagged and bound in a web of ropes from the Leopard Bikini Bound film.
"I think that she was a remarkable lady, an iconic figure in pop culture who influenced sexuality, taste in fashion, someone who had a tremendous impact on our society," Hugh Heffner told the AP on Thursday. "She was a very dear person."
Page married twice; the first marriage to Navy man Billy Neal lasted from 1943 to 1947, and her second to Armond Walterson in 1958 to 1963. After the collapse of her second marriage, she suffered a nervous breakdown and soon after 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.
Bettie's life and photos enjoyed a revival of interest in 1976 with the publishing of the book, A Nostalgic Look at Bettie Page. Page was also celebrated in the 2006 HBO movie, The Notorious Bettie Page, starring Gretchen Mol.