Bettie Page, legendary pinup queen, dies at 85

Bettiepage2_lBettie Page, the 1950s pinup credited with helping to spark the next decade’s sexual revolution, died in Los Angeles yesterday from pneumonia. She was 85. In honor of the passing of this treasure from a bygone era, an excerpt from EW critic Owen Gleiberman’s review of the 2006 biopic, The Notorious Bettie Page:

"It has often been said that Bettie Page, the legendary ’50s pinup withthe pert features framed by those famously severe black bangs, was therare American sex goddess who was equally at home projecting the imageof a good girl or a bad girl. Frolicking, naked, in the ocean foam, herleg extended with playful pleasure, she was all dazzle and sunshine:the girl next door who said yes yes yes. In her scandalous undergroundbondage photos, where she posed as a dominatrix with a whip held high,or as a masochist with a ball in her mouth, she vamped like a pussycatfrom hell, her eyes narrowing with mean delight — or widening in mockterror. Yet the mysterious alchemy of Bettie Page isn’t just that shecould turn on a dime from light to dark, saint to sinner, virgin tovixen. It’s that she was somehow able to project both qualities atonce. In the bondage photos, so shocking for their time, her warm,spirited, peekaboo vibrance doesn’t disappear; it’s there just beneaththe surface aggression of her poses. As for her all-American cheesecakeshots, they have a quality of delirious, laughing abandon, as thoughshe were winking at the she-devil inside. What Bettie Page conjured —always — was the promise of pleasure without limits. She was aone-woman orgy in centerfold form."

Good night, Bettie. Although it’s a cliche, there really is no truer summation than to say, they just don’t make ‘em like they used to.

addCredit(“Everett Collection “)

More Bettie Page:
Movie review: The Notorious Bettie Page
Book review: The Real Bettie Page: The Truth About the Queen of the Pinups
Bettie Page weighs in on Notorious biopic

Comments (150 total) Add your comment
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  • harry

    Betty Paige by far was the best pinup girl of all time I thought she even ranked better than Merilyn Monroe. but now that she’s gone all her mechandise will go up in price and that sucks. Baby if only you could of hung on until January 1st. thats payday. Oh well I glad she got to live a full life. RIP baby.


    And thus passes an icon of grace, beauty, and courage. She may be gone, but she will never be forgotten.

  • HellsBells

    What a loss. Although this was expected t still takes the wind out of me to know we lost such a monumental icon. She was such an inspiration to me personally and other young outsiders. She helped make playing up your full bad self pretty durn cool.
    RIP Bettie Page. The Divine Miss Bettie Page.

  • Alicia

    What a loss of such a beautiful person. She will truly be missed by her fans and the community who loves her.

  • Tim_CA

    It’s a sad day. Godspeed Ms. Page…you exemplified the all-american-girl pin-up style of the 1950’s. You took what before you was considered “Dirty” and turned it into something Naughty and Playful. You will certainly be missed.

  • John

    Goodnight sweet Bettie, I hope you find the peace you sought in life and thank you for making the world a more beautiful place. May the angels speed you to paradise. There will never be another like you, Bettie.

  • Bob

    I loved the 50’s pinup girls…Bettie being my favorite. Godspeed Bettie & God bless.

  • Jose Peralta

    There was only Bettie. All others who came after owe it all to her.

  • Mooser

    What these commenters, in their post modern, amoral way, are saying is this: At the small, high-arched, size 5.5 pink-shrimp toed feet of Bettie Page can be laid the blame for the thousands of sluts we face today. She is the reason all those girls on the bus gaze at me through slightly parted lips, and seductively pass their moistened tongues over their eyes. Darn you, Ms. Page! Darn you to heck! It was womens like unto Bettie which they made this modren world into the psycho-hyper-sexual hades what it is. I see myself now, fluttering like a wounded bird in their boudoirs, til a merciful syncope saves me from my fate! God save Donald Duck, Mrs. Fields and Virginity!

  • Jason Breslin

    I had no idea she was still alive!

  • Bill_in_SF

    Truly an American National Treasure…
    Rest in peace, Bettie.
    Rest in Peace.

  • Rachel

    Mooser – What buses do you ride where girls “pass their moistened tongues over their eyes”?
    RIP Bettie.

  • Davidahha

    Bye Bye Bettie

  • Michael Mahoney

    Mooser, quick- take a deep breath and drink lots of water to dilute your caffeine rush.
    Godspeed Betty.

  • kelly de palma

    Bettie signed with CMG, the agents of the dead. CMG is well known for being overly aggressive. This is not a company that appears to be bothered by ethical boundaries.
    Everybody in the licensing industry knows about the strong-arm tactics and oppressive, overbearing influence of CMG.

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