Bettie Page, the raven-haired pin-up girl whose naughty-but-nice romps
with whips, garters and high heels titillated young men and schoolboys in the 1950s, has died, aged 85. She had been in a coma after a heart attack this month.
Her career, which some have said laid the foundations for the sexual revolution in America in the 1960s, started almost by accident when she was aged 27 and she discovered that posing for amateur photographers
in provocative poses and risque attire made her more money than working as a secretary.
Page's fame was set after she was adopted by Irving Klaw and his sister, Paula, who had a Manhattan mail order business offering risque pictures. Years later, she became one of the first Playboy centrefolds, including a spread in 1955 with her winking under a Santa hat.
On hearing of her death, the magazine's founder and a friend of Page in recent years, Hugh Hefner, said: "Bettie Page was one of Playboy magazine's early Playmates, and she became an iconic figure, influencing notions of beauty and fashion. Her passing is very sad."
Page disappeared for decades at the end of the 1950s, experiencing a
number of broken marriages and, for many years, devoting herself to
She suffered bouts of depression and ill health but was rediscovered in the late 1980s. She would occasionally make public appearances to sign
photographs of herself.
To her astonishment, Page had recently attained something close to cult status. Madonna, Uma Thurman and Demi Moore have at some time adopted Bettie Page poses.
Page featured in the 1998 documentary Bettie Page: Pinup Queen while Paige Richards portrayed her in Bettie Page: Dark Angel (2004) and Gretchen Mol had the titular role in The Notorious Bettie Page (2005).