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Betty Mae Page (April 22, 1923 – December 11, 2008), known professionally as Bettie Page, was an American model who gained a significant profile in the 1950s for her pin-up photos. Often referred to as the “Queen of Pinups”, her shoulder-length jet-black hair, blue eyes, and trademark bangs have influenced artists for generations.
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 1950s. Page was “Miss January 1955”, one of the earliest Playmates of the Month for Playboy magazine. “I think that she was a remarkable lady, an iconic figure in pop culture who influenced sexuality, taste in fashion, someone who had a tremendous impact on our society,” said Playboy founder Hugh Hefner to the Associated Press in 2008.
In 1959, 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. After years of obscurity, she experienced a resurgence of popularity in the 1980s.