Bettie Page, the original pin-up model, died in a Los Angeles hospital Thursday. Page was 85.
Page was felled by a heart attack last week and never regained consciousness, according to her agent. She had been hospitalized for the previous three weeks for pneumonia.
Bettie Page was a secretary-turned model rose to fame in the 1950’s when her photos, featuring her scantily-clad or nude hourglass figure, became the origin of the pin-up craze. Page was featured in the January 1955 issue of then-fledgling Playboy magazine as the centerfold.
The mysterious model disappeared from the public eye for decades, during which she battled mental illness and became a born-again Christian while cementing her place in pop culture.
“She captured the imagination of a generation of men and women with her free spirit and unabashed sensuality,” says agent Mark Roesler.
“She is the embodiment of beauty.”
Page was born to a poor family in Nashville, Tennessee and spent much of her childhood in orphanages due to the family’s financial status or because her family was traveling around the country looking for work. She married multiple times, including twice to the same man, all of which ended in divorce.
Her career was thriving through the late 1950’s until a Senate subcommittee began obscenity inquiries into the producers of much of Betty’s work. Page dropped out of modeling, and devoted the rest of her life to Christianity.
Page spent decades out of the spotlight and had no idea that her popularity enjoyed a huge resurgence in the 1980’s and 90’s until she saw a piece Entertainment Tonight produced on the craze. She later signed with a management company in an attempt to earn royalties on her work.
Page leaves no children.