Bettie Page, RIP

Along with Forrie Ackerman, another iconic cult figure passes from the scene. Bettie Page 1950s pin-up, Playmate, and under-the-counter-nudie-pix goddess has died at 85.

When Page left the public eye in the 1960s and became a devout Baptist, a “whatever happened to?” mystery built around her and she became celebrated in all sorts of underground media in the ’70s and ’80s, perhaps most famously in the character of cheesecake model “Betty Page” late Dave Stevens’ comic The Rocketeer.

Page herself apparently remained unaware of her fame as an icon of ’50s underground sexuality until 1993, at the age of 70, when an interview with Robin Leach and an Entertainment Tonight segment on her opened her eyes to the virtual subculture which had grown up around her. A biography that appeared four years later alleged that she had at least a few episodes of serious, violent mental illness in midlife, but Page disputed the author’s characterization of the incidents vigorously (not least in the 1998 interview at bottom here).

Although she preferred not to be photographed to preserve the image of her younger self, Page remained a beautiful woman into her ’80s and died following a heart attack. Rest in peace.