Bettie Page was an American model who became incredibly famous for her pin-up photos. She was often referred to as ‘Queen of Pinups’. She was an iconic figure in pop culture and her distinctive looks still inspire artists across the globe. Despite she always carried a smile, her life wasn’t so blissful as one might think.

Dark Past of Bettie Page

Bettie Mae Page was born in Nashville, Tennessee and she was the second of six children by Edna Mae Pirtle and Walter Roy Page. Bettie had to take care of her siblings from a young age after her father was convicted for car theft.

Her parents divorced when she was 10 years old and her mother worked two jobs to support the family. She worked as a hairdresser during the day and washing laundry at night. Edna wasn’t able to take care of all her children so she decided to place Page in a Protestant orphanage for a year.

Father remained in the area and he rented the basement room for the cash-strapped Edna. Bettie said that her father began sexually molesting her at the age of 13. Still, she was a good student and voted as the ‘Girl Most likely to Succeed’ in her school.

Bettie’s intent was to become a teacher and she enrolled on George Peabody College (later Vanderbilt University). However, she changed her mind the next year and decided to be an actor. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1944.

In 1947 Bettie moved to New York with big dreams but once again fell victim to sexual assault. This time, it was a group of men. After the assault, she came back home for a while but she was determined to get back to New York.

Start of her Career

In the 1950’s she was offered to get her first pin-up portfolio for free by officer Jerry Tibbs. She entered the ‘camera club’ with the perception of modelling. However, these clubs were actually just fronts for making pornography.

Despite it being so explicit then, Bettie became a hit and she appeared in many men’s magazines back in the day. She was also the first famous bondage model, showing BDSM themes in her photos. Bettie had few small roles in acting but her career as an erotic pin-up model skyrocketed. She was also posing for Playboy magazine.

Illness and death

Bettie Page had a pretty sad life in reality. In her later years, her depression took over and she started having violent mood swings. It’s not clear if she used drugs or alcohol.

She was admitted to a Psychiatric hospital after the attack on her landlady. She spent 20 months in the psychiatric hospital. After that, she had another fight with another landlord. She was found not guilty for the reasons of insanity and she was kept under supervision for eight years.