Sunday, December 14, 2008

BETTIE PAGE (1923-2008)

Just a few words about Bettie Page, '50s pin-up extraordinaire, who died this week at the age of 85. Most of you know that revived interest in Page was the result of Dave Stevens including her in his 'Rocketeer' comic in the mid-1980s. I encountered her image frequently during my years working at Comic Quest. There was no end to folks capitalizing on her image, whether is was via trading cards or old burlesque films like 'Teasearama' -

Page was also a recurring subject of the artist Olivia, and during the non-sport trading card craze of the early '90s, her image was hard to miss. It didn't seem strange then, but looking back now it's interesting to me that Bettie Page was embraced and beloved by comic book fans moreso than any other model, even Marilyn Monroe. Her clean, girl-next-door looks mixed with the 'anything goes' style of her fetish pictures give viewers the idea that she can be anybody.

After a couple of decades of obscurity, poverty and mental institutionalization, the revival of interest caught up with Page herself. She submitted to interviews, but declined to be photographed and had her face blacked out for TV. She hired an agency to pursue remuneration for the myriad uses of her image. I was shocked to see her on "The Girls Next Door", showing up as a guest at a Playboy mansion party (she was a 1955 Playmate (NSFW). In her last years she was able to receive the respect and reverence given her work a half-century ago, giving the Bettie Page story a happy ending.

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