The shapely brunette who got '50s hearts racing was 85

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

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.