Ah, those jet-black Bettie Page bangs. Sixty years after they were immortalized on a pin-up icon, you still see them on the pale hipster lovelies with the cat-eyed glasses. That is just one of the lasting manifestations of Bettie Page’s industrious and enigmatic seven-year modeling career. She was a splash of rockabilly, a dash of Goth, and an extra helping of sass.
Today would have been her birthday! She died on December 11, 2008 at the age of 85.
According to Bettieophiles, she had more magazine appearances than Marilyn Monroe and Cindy Crawford combined. In 1957, however, she suddenly disappeared and never again appeared for any photo shoot. At an altar in Florida, she dedicated her life to God, attended three different Bible colleges, was a counselor at a Billy Graham crusade in Chicago, and attempted to become a missionary. She applied to various mission boards but was rejected—not because she had been a pin-up, but because she had been divorced.
She spent the rest of her life living quietly and happily in obscurity, working as a secretary, a teacher, and then eventually living modestly off of Social Security. She had no idea that the world was intrigued by her whereabouts.
She never changed her name, or her famous hairstyle. When she was asked if she was Bettie Page, she would playfully reply, “Who’s that?”
Bettie Page was a full-fledged original. She considered Billy Graham a hero and Hugh Hefner a friend. She followed Jesus and loved to skinny dip. “I was not trying to be shocking, or to be a pioneer,” she once wrote. “I wasn’t trying to change society, or to be ahead of my time. I didn’t think of myself as liberated, and I don’t believe that I did anything important. I was just myself. I didn’t know any other way to be, or any other way to live.”
Happy Birthday Bettie Page!