Bettie Page has passed on Dec 11, 2008 at the age of 85, but her legend will continue to live on for lifetimes to come. As a tribute to Bettie I am republishing an article I wrote for my Glamoursurf newsletter about her cult status and the leopard bikini she made herself.
The Bikini of the 1950's ~ ala Bunny & Bettie
As the 1950s dawned, a new level of sexual openness developed in behavior and dress. In magazines and on beaches, women appeared in revealing two-piece bathing suits called bikinis. Bunny Yeager, a former model and commercial photographer, forged a unique role in 1952, photographing bikinis and the beautiful women who wore them. The bikinis they wore were often of Bunny's own creation, sewn with her own hands. She says, "My ability helped me sell photographs to men's magazines and compete with male photographers. They didn't know how to sew!" Many of her original designs still influence styles today.
Bunny went on to become one of the most renowned glamour photographers in the world. Her name has become synonymous with glamorous pin-up photos. In 1959 she was chosen as Photographer of the Year, and shortly after she was selected as one of the top ten women photographers in the United States.Bunny Yaeger is one of the people, besides Irving Klaw, who helped make Bettie Page famous. She met Bettie in 1954. Bunny photographed Betty's 'jungle girl' pictures, many of the best poses of her taken on the beaches of Florida. A few of these shots by Yeager are shown here. Bettie Page is wearing a jungle suit which she sewed herself. She made all of her own bathing suits and bikini's for her modeling shots. "I never keep up with fashions. I believe in wearing what I thought I looked good on me."
Bettie drops out but her legend lives onBettie Page's humility has always gotten the best of her. Figuring that at age thirty-four her modeling days were over, she graciously stepped down, dropped out, found God and enrolled in Bible school. Unaware of her overwhelming -- and ever-growing -- impact on collective American sexuality over the years, she lived simply and quietly, as always. "I threw out all my pin up costumes and stockings and everything having to do with modeling. I thought God disapproved of all that once I had turned my life over to the Lord -- I never felt that way before. And I was getting all of this out of my life. I wish I had still kept some of my bikinis; I just would have liked to have them as souvenirs. I used to make all of my own bikinis."
Bunny continues to work in Miami Florida while Bettie will live in our memories forever. Rest in Peace Bettie!