CMG Worldwide/AP
Michael Y. Park
December 12, 2008 08:05 AM

Bettie Page, the ever-smiling, zaftig brunette with trademark bangs who became one of America’s most famous and notorious pin-up girls in the 1950s, died in Los Angeles Thursday after having her life support removed following a heart attack. She was 85.

“She captured the imagination of a generation of men and women with her free spirit and unabashed sensuality,” her agent, Mark Roesler, said. “She is the embodiment of beauty.”

Page was a 27-year-old secretary when a photographer on the beach at Coney Island discovered her in 1950. She went on to star in a series of sensual and nude photographs, including a Playboy centerfold and some that featured her in sadomasochistic poses.

After disappearing from public view for decades in which she became a devout Christian and was diagnosed with acute schizophrenia, Page re-emerged again in recent years, even becoming the subject of a 2005 feature film, The Notorious Bettie Page, in which she was portrayed by actress Gretchen Mol.

Page’s three marriages all ended in divorce.

PEOPLE pays respect to stars who’ve passed on

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