Bettie Page, the brunet pinup queen with a shoulder-length pageboy hairdo and kitschy bangs whose saucy photos helped usher in the sexual revolution of the s, has died. She was Page, whose later life was marked by depression, violent mood swings and several years in a state mental institution, died Thursday night at Kindred Hospital in Los Angeles, where she had been on life support since suffering a heart attack Dec. A cult figure, Page was most famous for the estimated 20, 4-byinch black-and-white glossy photographs taken by amateur shutterbugs from to The photos showed her in high heels and bikinis or negligees, bondage apparel -- or nothing at all. Now I get it. There was a passion play unfolding in her mind. What some see as a bad-girl image was in fact a certain sensual freedom and play-acting - it was part of the fun of being a woman. Then she disappeared.
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A native of Nashville, Tennessee , Page lived in California in her early adult years before moving to New York City to pursue work as an actress. There, she found work as a pin-up model , and posed for dozens of photographers throughout the s. In , Page converted to evangelical Christianity and worked for Billy Graham ,  studying at Bible colleges in Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon , with the intent of becoming a missionary. The latter part of Page's life was marked by depression , violent mood swings , and several years in a state psychiatric hospital suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. Betty Mae Page, who in childhood began spelling her first name "Bettie",  was born in Nashville, Tennessee , the second of six children to Walter Roy Page —  and Edna Mae Pirtle —
She was Page was a ubiquitous sight during the s, propelled to stardom when she posed for Playboy as Miss January Soon her image was gracing playing cards, record albums and bedroom posters across the country. She stopped modeling in , retreated from the public spotlight and turned to religion. She enjoyed a renaissance of sorts in the s, as a new generation of fans became obsessed with her legacy.
He helped her with a portfolio and her first cover was that of a Harlem newsprint magazine. It was Officer Tibbs who suggested to Bettie that she style her hair with bangs in front, to keep light from reflecting off her high forehead when being photographed. Bangs soon became an integral part of her distinctive look. These camera clubs existed ostensibly to promote artistic photography, but in reality, many were merely fronts for the making of pornography. Her lack of inhibition in posing made her a hit, and her name and image became quickly known in the erotic photography industry. From through , she posed for photographer Irving Klaw for mail-order photographs with pin-up and BDSM themes, making her the first famous bondage model.