Bettie Mae Page (though listed "Betty" on her birth certificate) born April 22, 1923 in Nashville, Tennessee, is a former American model who became famous in the 1950s for her fetish modeling and pin-up photos. While she faded into obscurity in the 1960s after her conversion to Christianity, she experienced a resurgence of popularity in the 1980s and now has a significant cult following.
The years out of the spotlight
On New Year's Eve 1958, during one of her regular visits to Key West, Florida, Page attended a service at what is now The Key West Temple Baptist Church. She found herself drawn to the mixed race environment and started to attend on a regular basis. She would in time attend three bible colleges, including the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, Multnomah School of the Bible and, briefly, a Christian retreat known as "Bibletown," part of the Boca Raton Community Church, Boca Raton, Florida. During the 1960s she attempted to become a Christian missionary in Africa but was rejected for having had a divorce. Over the next few years she worked for various Christian organizations before settling in Nashville in 1963. She briefly remarried Billy Neal, her first husband, who helped her to gain entrance into missionary work, however, the two divorced again shortly thereafter. Bettie returned to her beloved Florida in 1967, and married again, to Harry Lear, but this marriage also ended in divorce in 1972. Leaving Florida, she moved to Los Angeles with her brother sometime in the late 1970s and lived a quiet life unaware of the cult that built around her during the 1980s. This renewed attention raised the question among her new fans of what happened to Bettie after the 1950s. The 1990s edition of the popular Book of Lists included Page in a list of once-famous celebrities who had seemingly vanished from the public eye.
The question of what Page did in the obscure years after modeling was answered in part with the publication of an official biography in 1996, Bettie Page: The Life of a Pin-up Legend. Her biography described a woman who dealt head-on with adversity, always looking forward, never looking back.
Another biography, The Real Bettie Page: The Truth about the Queen of Pinups  written by Richard Foster and published in 1997, told a less happy tale. Foster's book immediately provoked attacks from her fans, including Hefner and Harlan Ellison, as well as a statement from Page that it was "full of lies." However, Steve Brewster, founder of The Bettie Scouts of America fan club, has stated that it is not as unsympathetic as the book's reputation makes it to be. Brewster adds that he also read the chapter about her business dealings with Swanson, and stated that Page was pleased with that part of her story.
In a 1993 telephone interview with Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous she told Robin Leach that she had no knowledge of her resurgence, telling him that she was "penniless and infamous." In a late-1990s interview, Page stated she would not allow any current pictures of her to be shown because of concerns about her weight. In 2003, however, she changed her mind and allowed a publicity picture to be taken of her for the August 2003 edition of Playboy. In 2006, the Los Angeles Times ran an article headlined A Golden Age for a Pinup, covering an autographing session at her current publicity company, CMG Worldwide. Once again, she declined to be photographed, saying that she would rather be remembered as she was.
In 1996, Bettie Page did grant an exclusive one-on-one TV interview to entertainment reporter Tim Estiloz for a short-lived NBC morning magazine program Real Life. The interview was granted as part of Page's participation in publicizing her biography, Bettie Page: The Life Of A Pin-Up Legend. The interview featured her voice reminiscing about her career and relating anecdotes about her personal life, as well as photos from Bettie's personal collection. At Page's request, her face was not shown during the interview. The video of the interview was broadcast only once, but recently resurfaced on YouTube under the title, "REAL Bettie Page TV Interview - Her Life In Her OWN Words."
Within the last few years, she has hired a law firm to help her recoup some of the profits being made with her likeness.
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