I’ve had a giant Bettie Page photo hanging on my wall since college. It was handed down to me from my older sister, who had it on her wall before I did. As much as I loved Page’s iconic beauty, I didn’t really know much about the black-haired bombshell at first. Only that she had fierce bangs, a killer rack and she handled her whip delicately. Eventually I found out that she was shot byPlayboy’s photographer Bunny Yeager. And then I started to dig and I learned more about Bettie Page’s colorful life.
Bettie Page married Billy, her high school sweetheart, before he was drafted into the navy in World War II. Page moved all over America searching for steady employment, eventually finding her way to Port-au-Prince, Haiti for four months, where she almost became the secretary to the ambassador to the U.S. Page fell in love with a Haitian man but was surprised to discover he had a pregnant wife on the other end of the island.
Page eventually divorced Billy and packed her bags for New York City in hopes of becoming a star. She was quickly discovered by a policeman and amateur photographer. Back then, “camera clubs” were highly popular in the underground to evade laws against nude photos. “I bet there’s thousands of photos of Bettie out there for that reason,” says Mark Mori, a renowned documentary filmmaker whose Bettie Page documentary Bettie Page Reveals All debuts in select New York theaters tomorrow. “We’re going to be seeing a lot of Bettie Page photos pop up for a long time.”