Ladies and Gentlemen, here she is now.
Let's get together and meet that very delightful, that sultry siren of the southland, the lovely Bettie Page.
( crowd applauding )
( '50s beach music playing )
Who are you?
I'm an illusion.
You're an illusion?
Then you're not real?
Of course, I'm real.
It is very difficult to find a parallel for her.
I mean, this combination of... naughty and nice.
And it is all in the context of innocence.
She expressed sexual liberation.
Bettie is still this subversive, adventurous, sexual persona that people are trying to emulate.
I think it's like the confusion between maybe the real person and the artwork and the cartoons, like all of these-- it's sort of confusing even whether she was a real person or not.
People love Bettie Page for her whole being for the radiance that she exuded, the sexuality that she showed without being cheap, ever.
And women gravitated to that concept.
The remarkable thing about her image is how much it has influenced pop culture from movies to music to fashion. It's remarkable.
( "Bettie Page" by Paul Spencer playing )
( people chattering )
Perez Hilton: One of the things that I love about her iconography is that she just portrayed herself as a very strong woman, even if she was not in the position of power.
( women scream )
She's lasted because she has that rare quality that's sort of hard to define, it's that sort of ultimate star quality.
I feel like a lot of girls like me can identify with Bettie because you can kind of capture the spirit of that sexy, sensual, timeless look.
She looks fantastic and I think that's what men prefer.
I don't think men prefer the really skinny, bones thin women.
I think Bettie Page is a real woman.
I mean she have form, boobs, butt, and that's very beautiful.
I gave her a lot of credit because she opened the door for a lot of us.
She's the most important glamour icon that she really paved the way for all the rest.
And she's beautiful but yet she's approachable, she's the girl next door.
Bettie Page is the good girl but she's a bad girl.
She's fun, she's playful.
All right, bitch, bring it.
( all cheering )
( screams )
Oh, st-- ah!
I mean, she's the reason why we're all here today in a sense is because of her, I mean, she's the original pinup girl, she's the original.
We're all going to be dust, they'll be nothing else anymore, and there'll always be Bettie Page no matter what.
She had the magic.
She was deeply religious.
She was willing to do all kinds of crazy outrageous things.
There's some rather large skeletons in that woman's closet.
How do you reconcile that behavior with the image that she projects in these photographs?
She reached the peak of popularity in her profession and disappeared.
Nobody knew what happened to Bettie Page.
( Avery Parrish's "After Hours" playing )
( "Amazing Grace" playing on bagpipes )
Bettie, if you know what's going on, I want to tell you this is your friend Robert Schuller saying, "This too is the day that God has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it."
We all thought we knew her from different perspectives, but I'm sure no one will leave this place today without having had another glimpse into the private heart of Bettie.
Mark Mori: Okay, Bettie, I'll just ask you some questions.
Mark: You were born in Nashville, right?
Bettie: I was born in Nashville, Tennessee, April 22nd, 1923.
We were so poor, we lived on beans, fried potatoes, and macaroni.
You couldn't talk to Mama, she didn't want any girls in the first place.
She always wanted only two boys.
My father was a womanizer of the worst sort.
A sex fiend is the way to put it.
I mean sex with anything that he could get his "you know what" into.
Chickens, and sheep, and cows, and anything.
And in order to get 10 cents to go to the movies, I let him fool around on the outside.
Now, he didn't penetrate me inside like he did my two sisters.
Mama left him and hitchhiked 30 miles to Nashville with six children, and she was uneducated, only a third grade education, she had no trade at all, and she couldn't take care of all six of us children, so my two sisters and I were put in a Protestant orphanage for a year.
The orphanage was run by three old maids.
They would talk to us like dogs, they were very mean to us, and they had me scrubbing floors all the time.
I was only 11 years old then.
We just hated that place.
I was so glad to get out of there.
I learned to pose from movie star pictures in magazines and newspapers.
And my sisters and I would try to mimic their poses.
We'd even get out in the front yard with our underwear on.
( Bettie laughs )
I had several photographers and amateur photographers come up and approach me and ask me if they could take pictures of me, I always said yes.
My dream when I was in high school was to be Valedictorian, and I studied so hard trying to be Valedictorian because with it was a four year scholarship to Vanderbilt University.
But I was beat out of Valedictorian by one-quarter of a point now, can you imagine, and I had to settle for being Salutatorian.
And all I got was a $100 scholarship to George Peabody College for Teachers.
After high school, I started dating Billy Neal.
He was a big sports hero around town.
And he taught me to dance, which I've always loved.
And he taught me everything about sex too, which I enjoyed.
Well, when the war came on, he was drafted one day into the army, and he started bugging me about marrying him.
We got on the bus and went
30 miles to Galliton, Tennessee, and were married in five minutes.
And when I got on the bus to go back with him, I said to myself, "What have I done?"
Well, we were in San Francisco, 1 944.
And this fella, he took a lot of pictures of me and sent some of them down to 20th Century Fox.
I had a screen test with John Russell who later played the lawman on a TV series.
But that test was awful.
They tried to make me up to look like Joan Crawford.
Didn't even look like me.
( 20th Century Fox theme playing )
While I was at the studio, this big car pulled up beside me... ( wolf whistles )
...and a big fat guy, very ugly looking fella, wanted me to go to dinner with him.
I told him no.
And he said, "You'll be sorry. "
Well, he was at the head of the table when I went to learn the results of the screen test.
That test was awful.
I was so disappointed and unhappy over the failure of the screen test, when I got back to San Francisco, I started eating.
Within two months, I ballooned way up to 162 pounds.
Well, my sister came to visit me, Goldie, from Nashville.
She said that the landlord, he had cussed her out and accused her of causing the sink in the bathroom to fall off the wall.
I went to the door, and boy, he flew in on me, beating me in the face with his fist, just a mad man.
And Goldie grabbed the milk bottle and cracked him over the head with it.
And he started bleeding down the front of his head, and he thought he was dying, and we did too.
Because Goldie was underage, under 21, I'm the one who had to testify, even though I'm not the one who hit him over the head.
But they gave me a 30-day suspended sentence and I had to pay 10 dollars, and it was in the paper, a great big picture of me and a big headline, "Tenant Bashes Landlord".
( Bettie chuckles )
Well, Billy came back from fighting overseas.
He had battle fatigue, you know, he was in the hospital, in the army hospital in Guam for about six months.
When he came home, he wasn't the same guy.
He was a jealous maniac.
Accused me of sleeping with every sailor in San Francisco, and he went off the deep end.
So I tried so hard to make a go of it with him but it was impossible.
We were sitting in the kitchen, and he had a knife right at my throat, he was gonna cut me with it if I divorced him.
I went ahead and divorced him anyhow.
When I went to New York, I was getting over my divorce from Billy Neal and the miserable marriage.
I liked all the lights on Broadway.
And I liked Central Park.
All I paid for my apartment on West 46th Street, 46 dollars and 29 cents a month.
I used to go to the Roseland ballroom.
And then I went dancing so much.
I was a movie fiend in those days.
Didn't cost much of anything, 40 or 50 cents, something like that, to see a double feature.
One night, I was very lonely, and I was walking along Broadway, and a good looking fella came up and started talking to me, introduced himself.
He was very polite and courteous, seemed like a very nice fella.
He asked me, "Would like to go dancing?"
I said, "Sure, I'd love to go. "
So we got in the car, and he and I sat in the back, and the girlfriend and the boyfriend driving.
Well, we stopped at a red light, and two guys jumped in the car.
We went farther on, two more fellas got in the car.
But when it hit me, a big pain shot through me as we crossed that bridge and I thought, "We are not going dancing. "
You can imagine how you would have felt then with six men in the car and the two women.
The guy in front and his girlfriend got out of the car and went behind the building.
I thought real fast, and I said I'm menstruating, you can't have sex with me.
And all five of those snakes forced me to perform oral sex on every one of them.
They could have killed me or something and left me dead behind that school.
I went home to Mama right away, I was so frightened.
Back in New York, the first secretarial job I ever had in New York was for the American Bread Company.
I was a secretary to the office manager.
I had a small room up on the fifth floor of an old brownstone house.
( knocking on door )
Somebody knocked on the door around midnight.
Woman: Who is it?
And he said, "Bettie, open the door, it's Billy. "
Woman: What do you want? Bettie: "Let me in. "
A friend of mine in the next apartment, a little fella named Jimmy, a 50-year-old man, came out to the door and asked what was going on.
Well, Billy told him to mind his own business, and he cut little Jimmy across the face, a couple of inches with a knife now.
He was going to kill me with a knife is what he was going to do.
He must have left.
He didn't come back.
I was working as secretary, way up high in the Eastern Airlines building on the 12th floor, overlooking the skating rink in Rockefeller Center, a very nice place to work.
And that's where I met the love of my life, Carlos Garcia Arrese.
( laughs )
You know I was a nut over dancing back in those days.
And he taught me the rumba, and mambo, and cha-cha, and samba.
And he was very good at it.
Well, we dated and we were making mad love, he was a very good lover.
One night I was up at his apartment, all of a sudden, a big loud knocking on the door, "Carlos, open up the door, l know you're in there. "
And she was really mad, and I thought, oh gosh, who's that?
And he said, "Bettie, that's my wife. "
I said, "Your wife!"
I never felt so low in my life, I felt like two cents.
I didn't want to see him again because he had deceived me.
But if I had known he was married I would never have dated him.
I always wanted to be a fashion model.
And I went to-- let's see, what was the name of the most famous one?
Ford, that's it. She says, "Oh, my. "
She says, "You would never do as a fashion model. "
She says, "In the first place, you're not tall enough. "
But she says, "More than that, " she says, "you're too hippy. "
You've got to be skin and bones, you know.
Even back then, to be a fashion model.
In October 1 950, I was walking out on Coney Island.
Nobody was on the beach in that area, except this black fella, Jerry Tibbs.
He gave me his card and he said, "I'm a Brooklyn policeman. "
He said, "I think you'd make a good pinup modeI. "
He said, "l have a studio, if you wouId come over there free of charge, I'll make you up a portfolio that you could take around to the studios. "
I posed in a couple of bikinis of his.
But he said, "Bettie, have you ever tried to wear bangs?"
He said, "You have a very high forehead, I think you'd look good in bangs. "
So I went home and cut me some.
And I've been wearing them ever since, its sort of been a trademark of mine, I'm still wearing them.
Mark: That's that famous Bettie Page look, isn't it?
( Bettie laughs )
Bettie: I think I was about 27 when I started modeling, but I looked much younger.
All of the writers and editors would say I was 22 years old, they were saying that for years that I was 22.
I never refuted it, I never said anything one way or another, let them think what they wanted to.
( Bettie laughs )
The first modeling I did was for the camera clubs.
First one was Cass Carr who was an orchestra leader.
Every Sunday we'd say we're going out to Headly Farm in New Jersey or some other farm, or we're going out to Fire Island or Broad Channel Bay.
Bettie Page and four other amateur models will be with them, and it would cost ten dollars or five dollars.
Bettie: There would be maybe 30 or 40 camera club members and three or four models.
We would go on field trips, on weekends, upstate New York, over in New Jersey, on the beaches, especially on Fire Island.
I got 25 dollars a day.
And we would be gone all afternoon and they would bring lunches, and I enjoyed the outings very much.
They were always polite and courteous to us.
I enjoyed posing for them.
It was absolutely fun photographing Bettie.
And I could tell, I think it shows up in the photographs, that she enjoyed it too.
She was happy.
She was exhilarated.
She came right out at you.
Whereas others were just pretty.
When she turned, she didn't just turn and smile, her hands, her body, her feet, everything moved, everything moved.
She smiled with her face, she smiled with her whole body.
And that's something very few girls got.
Amsie: The good pinup involves three things:
Pose, clothes, and expression.
She knew just when I said, pert, saucy, frisky, haughty, angry, sullen, whereas with many other models I'd have to tell them, "Well, no, tilt your head up a little bit,"
"Move it up like that," "Raise your eyes," etcetera.
She would pop up into that right away.
Bettie: I was very happy posing.
And I never had any problem thinking of what to do with my body.
I could think of a thousand different poses that just came natural to me.
Sometimes I would imagine the camera was my boyfriend.
And I would play to my boyfriend.
Amsie: All I do know is that when Bettie Page was announced as being the feature model of next Sunday's shoot, there was a big crowd.
Mark: Did the guys in the camera clubs ask you out for dates a lot?
Now I wouldn't date anybody who drank or smoke.
I just don't like the taste of cigarettes on your breath, and I hate alcohol.
One of the most interesting characters in this entire story was Richard Arbib, one of her ex-boyfriends.
He was a top designer of the '50s.
Designed cars, watches, extremely well known designer.
Richard had split up with his wife, and met Bettie, and they had a red hot romance, they were deeply in love.
He took her in his two seater down to Florida.
Arbib: Well, we just decided we'd take off and go to Florida for three weeks.
She wanted to have sex with me in the car and I said, "If you're going to do that, I've got to stop 'cause I'll go off the road. "
So she's going away at me, and all of a sudden there's a flashlight in the door, it was raining cats and dogs, there's a state trooper there.
And I thought he was going to arrest us for having sex in the car.
All he said was, "You all know you've got one tail light out. "
Bettie had a very normal sex life.
She wasn't inhibited, she wasn't hung up in any way at all.
She liked sex and she was very good at it.
Theakson: Arbib told me he designed a watch for Bettie.
It was a custom made piece for Bettie Page.
He was renowned for his watches.
This was a unique one of a kind piece.
He presented it to her and she wore it proudly.
And for some reason, Richard decided that he was going to give it one more shot with his wife, and it didn't work out with his wife, and when he came back, Bettie was gone.
And that was the regret of his life.
All of the guys that I knew that met this woman, had this, "The one that got away" ennui about them.
She wasn't just a pretty face with nothing behind it, she was not a facade.
She had a high IQ.
And had a great range of things that interested her.
Bettie: I used to make a lot of my clothes.
I made all my bikinis, most of my lingerie.
I enjoyed making them.
Bettie used to design stuff.
She could have made a fortune.
'Cause she had an eye for it, she knew what was sexy.
Bettie: Bikinis were never heard of on the beaches in this country.
( big band music playing )
Male announcer: Don't know what the wild waves are saying, but the gals are talking about the latest thing in swimming attire.
A suit with a built in girdle.
Bettie: I made them real skimpy.
It was considered very risqué.
One of the jobs I had in New York was with a couple down in Greenwich Village.
Well, they had me bring every one of my costumes, especially all my bikinis.
And I wondered why they had me change costumes so many times.
And then they had taken my designs from the pictures they'd took of me and had them manufactured under my name and selling them as "Bettie Page's Bikinis" now.
I should have sued them or something, but I didn't do anything about it.
The first bona fide commercial work I did was for Robert Harrison's magazines.
You know, he had five or six girly books.
Wink, Titter, Flirt, Beauty Parade.
They had four or five writers in the back room that made up all kinds of crazy things we had to act out.
But one thing I didn't like and none of the other girls did either, Robert Harrison insisted that our breasts be taped.
He was a nut about the cleavage.
I'd have to hold my breasts together, and they put a great big thick two-inches wide tape, all the way across.
I hated that.
Mr. Harrison said, "Bettie, I want you to represent my magazines at the artists ball. "
They have a contest for the best costume.
And guess what I was wearing?
Just two telephone dials, one over this breast, one over this, and a suggestion box, and black net stockings up to the waist, and that was it, and I won it that year, and I got a whole set of Revere kitchen ware.
( Bettie laughs )
( patriotic classical music playing )
Announcer: Estes Kefauver of the Senate crime investigation fame brings the Democratic political pot to boil by announcing his candidacy for the presidential nomination.
Bettie: Senator Estes Kefauver.
He's from my home state, you know.
He was trying to drum up votes, and get the public on his side, by going after juvenile delinquency and pornography.
What I expected, having served in World War II, which I thought was a fight for democracy and liberation, what I expected after World War II was something like what I perceived as the "Roaring '20s" was like after World War I, a huge celebration.
And what we actually got was repression.
Repression on several fronts, it was social and sexual and political.
Man: Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?
The thing that the American people can do is to be vigilant, day and night.
To make sure they don't have communists teaching the sons and daughters of America.
We have an image of the fifties as a time when everything was placid and everybody lived in a sort of Ozzie and Harriet life, but going on at the same time in the culture was an enormous amount of fear of infiltration of new things that were going to undermine and infect the culture, and make the youth of America delinquents, as the term that had been invented.
And a lot of it focused on pornography.
Male announcer: The peddling of obscene books, a furtive and despicable occupation has become a lucrative sideline for unscrupulous shopkeepers in some high school neighborhoods.
Smith: People basically, I think, felt that anything that got people sexually excited was a bad thing.
I mean, even to talk about sex in the 1 950s was a taboo.
The Postmaster General had a very visible campaign of trying to suppress the use of the mails to deliver sexually explicit materials.
Postal inspectors could open your mail, they could confiscate it, they could come and do raids on your premises to keep you from mailing material at another time.
Of course they could turn you over to the prosecution.
So they had a great deal of power at their disposal.
Anything that would be perceived as being lewd, a term pretty broad, could be treated as a crime if you circulated it through the mail.
And certainly nudity alone was considered enough to be obscene by the standards of the authorities at the time.
Bettie: I don't even believe God disapproves of nudity, after all, he put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden naked as jaybirds.
As a part of posing for the camera club, most of it was in bikinis, but sometimes there would be a few shots topless.
Theakson: Bettie Page was very sexual, but in a very free and innocent kind of way.
She's gorgeous and she makes you feel good.
She makes direct eye contact with you, and it's engaging.
I've seen her work with some very shy newcomers, and actually help them out.
Bettie would suggest something, "How 'bout this one, how 'bout this one, how 'bout this one?"
And that way she would get him out of his shell.
Theakson:Bettie is sexuality in it's sparkly, cleanest, most beautiful, charming, smilingest.
Theakson: But there was some discussion about the kind of women that would do camera club shoots because primarily they were nude, totally nude shoots.
And Bettie would say, "Whenever there was a shoot that I was attending, where things started getting sketchy, I got out of there. "
Amsie: Everybody would have liked to date Bettie Page, but nobody made the moves.
Mark: Are there any boyfriends of Bettie that you know of, that you've talked to her that you know of?.
I talked to a lot of guys, not only photographers, but her lovers.
Charles West was one of them.
Apparently met her through a camera club.
He did a notorious series of photographs with Bettie.
Charles West: One day, a Saturday, she and I were walking down 5th Ave. at Rockefeller Center.
She wore that same tight translucent sweater.
We were on our way to a shooting session in the Time Life building.
You should have seen the swiveling heads, both male and female.
My God, wasn't she beautiful.
My photos were taken very privately, I never intended for any of them to be published.
God gave her a lovely body and she knew it.
As a model, she used it to full advantage.
Her body was absolutely without blemish, and everything exactly right in proportion.
And that was the same with her face, and you put the two together, and you had just about the perfect woman.
There was also a very sheer pair of white panties.
Also, super long black opera length gloves.
She was absolutely pure, plain and natural.
And of course she shows up that way in her photographs.
And I just think you see the real girl there.
No one ever dominated Betts, either physically or psychologically.
She was her own person and she never could have mistreated anyone.
Yes, she and I made love.
And she was marvelous.
She's an extraordinary creature.
My memories of Betts are ever present.
Nudity back then was, was very unusual.
That was '52, a time of restrictive sexuality.
You talked to your friends in college even, and the fellow who had been sexually active was the unusual guy.
Know when and how you're going to say "no".
Take the case of the girl who finds herself in this situation.
Girl in car: Say, is anybody else hungry?
How about it you two, couldn't we go someplace for something to eat?
Heinlein: I was on my way into the army at that time, on my way to Korea eventually.
So I thought it was a time to have a little bit of fun.
Bettie: We were upstate New York on a farm.
Mark: But maybe this have been your first opportunity to see a woman without much clothes on?
Ah, that's not a bad guess.
( laughter )
Heinlein: The photographers all sort of gravitated to Bettie Page.
You were drawn as if by a magnet.
She lit up the place.
I don't think anybody can really explain why some people have that kind of charisma.
It was kind of a revolution for me really to see that openness.
Bettie: Somebody went to the police about it, some old fogy no doubt, went to the police and said we were running around in the woods nude out there.
And here came a squad car.
Man: Calling car 6 and 7 eighths, car 6 and 7 eighths.
Heinlein: Here they are coming with drawn guns, coming on a bunch of photographers.
I mean, what were we going to do?
I mean, this is absolute nonsense.
And they said, "Also, take the pictures out of your cameras."
I opened the back of the camera.
The counter, which may have been, say on film number 5, well, I snapped back to zero.
I immediately closed the camera and thought to myself, why not try to keep what films I have in the camera.
And I showed it to one of the deputies and I said, "Look, you see, the counter's on zero, but to tell you the truth I have a new roll in there, I'd rather not expose it by opening the back. "
I said, "Okay if I keep it that way?"
And he said sure.
But I didn't come upon the idea of holding onto those photos until I saw it snap back to zero.
The charming thing was that a little kitten wandered by.
And she picked it up, and she held it to her breast.
I found that exquisite.
And I did take a picture of that but half of it was destroyed.
One of the deputies said something, which was rather nasty, but I do remember her saying, "Don't you talk to me like that.
I won't have it. "
And I think she had more courage than the dozen and a half photographers that were there.
They decided to charge the guys for disturbing the peace, and the girls for indecent exposure.
Heinlein: She was just terribly offended by it.
Menning: Bettie says, "I'm not indecent.
I will not plead guilty to that. "
Bettie: And we sat there in the anteroom, outside the court room for five hours.
( Menning speaking )
Theakson: Bettie demanded that this release form be rewritten so that it didn't say "indecent exposure".
Bettie: And the judge warned us never to come in his county again.
( Bettie chuckles )
Theakson: Her being put in jail because she was posing, making a living, gave her pause for thought.
She really had never considered that it could happen to her.
And in fact, it was an alarm to wake her up to the fact that a lot of people did not like what she was doing.
( dramatic classical music playing )
On Friday, we shall continue the investigation of the relationship of pornographic materials to delinquency.
Hefner: In the 1950s, the repression was coming from the government.
And it also involved Kefauver and his investigations, in terms of pornography and crime.
You couldn't sell in many places a magazine that had the kinds of nudity that we see in a modern Playboy.
That was considered going too far.
Bettie: I never had any bad feelings about posing in the nude or semi-nude outfits.
I found out I could make more money posing in two hours than I'd make all week as a secretary.
All the girls who worked for Robert Harrison would end up posing for lrving Klaw.
He had a big business, he and his sister Paula, selling movie star pictures before they got into, locally, shooting models in New York.
And one of the cameramen brought her in and said, she's a super model, she works well, and she's a love, give her a shot.
And we did. You should have seen her then.
The long black hair and always smiling, giggling and whatever, she was so great to work with.
She loved posing.
Bettie: Irving Klaw, he was a real sweet fella.
He was a big fat chubby guy.
And he was sort of short and he was almost bald.
But he was so nice.
He never made any passes at the women or anything.
They would bring food there, sandwiches and all for us.
They were always very generous about that.
Paula Klaw: He got some of the ideas from some of the customers.
And he would sort of talk to me about, "What do you think of this and what do you think of that", and between the two of us we'd figure it out.
In some of her earliest Irving Klaw photos, Bettie looked a little gawky.
But Klaw would give her a set of these photos.
She could summarize what she was doing right and what she was doing wrong, and I think she became a much better model.
Paula Klaw: She liked being in front of the camera.
She enjoyed her body.
She liked the way she looked.
She liked her hair.
She enjoyed herself.
She never cried about anything--
"It's too tight, '"'It's too loose, "
"Don't do that, " or anything.
She was just a super lady to work with.
Bettie: Irving said I was his most famous model that he ever had, and he had some 1,500 pictures of me going.
A lot of them to service men.
Paula Klaw: We made this set of pictures, we'd advertise it, and we noticed the increase in sales.
Bettie: One of the biggest sellers is a picture of me wearing my little leopard-skin bikini, and I'm looking real mean, holding this whip with one foot up on a stool and a cigarette dangling out the side of my mouth.
And the teenagers.
Irving said that's their favorite picture of me now.
You know, I never smoked.
( Bettie laughs )
I hate cigarettes.
Well, I shot stills but there was more money into making films so we started with the 16mm, because that was very popular at that time.
( "Curves of Bettie Page" playing )
♪ Well, she's a drama queen from a golden age ♪
♪ Talking about the curves of Bettie Page ♪
♪ Flinging through the pages though, I just can't wait ♪
♪ She's the kind of woman that I want to date ♪
♪ Oh, Bettie, Bettie, Bettie, Bettie ♪
♪ Oh, Bettie, Uh-huh-huh ♪
♪ Oh, Bettie, Bettie, Bettie, Bettie ♪
♪ Oh, Bettie, yeah ♪
♪ I'm gonna run to you, girl, I'm on the rampage ♪
♪ Just want Bettie, Bettie Page, yeah! ♪
( whip cracks )
( whip cracks )
Bettie: Seven inch heels, one pair, that he kept for me only, that fitted me just fine that I could wiggle around, and move around, and kick around in those.
Menning: Yeah, Bettie could walk great in high heels, unlike most girls.
Most girls, they could walk in high heels, some of them, but they didn't look natural.
Bettie, she could move in 'em just like, just like she was in moccasins.
Paula Klaw: My brother would set it up and I would direct, and I worked the 16mm.
Male announcer: Teaserama is a complete, all new burlesque show, filmed in beautiful new Eastman Color.
Teaserama features the world's most beautiful, exotic girls.
Tempest Storm is the girl with a 40-plus bust, who goes 3D two better!
So big, we had to use wide screen to film Teaserama.
Bettie Page, the nation's top pinup queen.
There's sexy seconds to every minute in Teaserama.
Bettie: In one of them starring Tempest Storm, I played her maid.
And I also introduced the acts wearing my bikinis and other costumes.
And then I did a little dance number.
It was a nothing tap dance I made up within a half an hour before the movie was to be shot.
Paula Klaw: There was no sex in those movies that we shot.
It was just fun.
Bettie: Irving Klaw would pay me $150 every time I did one of these movies.
And I would take the money and go to visit my mother in Pittsburgh, or my brothers in Nashville, or my sister in Coral Gables.
Bettie happened to be in Miami on a little vacation.
And she gave me a call.
And she said she was a New York model.
And I said, "Oh," and I was very impressed.
Bettie: I posed for Bunny in Florida in the spring of 1954.
She had just started out as a photographer, she used to be a pinup model.
I said, "You do pinup modeling?"
And she says, "I do nudes, too."
And when I heard that she did nudes, I was really excited because I had never photographed a professional nude model before.
So I told her to come on over, I would use her sight unseen.
Bettie was so perfect in every way.
It would be hard for anybody to take a bad picture of Bettie.
Bettie: Because she was a woman, I felt more comfortable posing in the nude for Bunny.
And we'd go out there about 7:00 in the morning before anybody came on the beaches and do our shooting then.
( "Casbah" by Los Straightjackets playing )
Bunny: We worked so well together because she caught on to what I was trying to get out of her.
And she just played like she was a teenager in front of the camera, and followed every direction I gave her.
And that was a thrill too, because I had not worked with somebody that professional before.
You knew she was trying to look her very best.
She would work on her tan and sunbathe the nude for a certain time everyday so that her skin would be so glorious.
Bettie had a different torso than most girls.
Her bone structure there, close to her waistline, went way in to a very tiny waist.
And there are very few girls that are built like that.
Bettie: I was 36-24-37.
I worked out at the health club three times a week.
I've always liked to exercise.
I wanted to keep in shape for my modeling.
Bunny: She lied to me about her age.
She told me she was 24 when she posed for me but she was much older.
I think that she was 32.
We shot pictures at Kiddie Land Park.
And I put her in a bikini and shot her on the merry-go-round and all these stupid rides.
And she, she had a ball, you know.
We had to go before they opened up at 10:00 because I was getting worried with the briefness of the bathing suits.
I was a little scared and I thought, "Bettie, we might get arrested.
How do you feel about that?"
And he says, "Oh, I wouldn't want to, but you know.
What are we going to do?"
So we just took our chances.
So they're very sensual pictures.
( boat motor humming )
Bunny: We went out on the boat and it was late in the afternoon, and the sun was already getting low.
But that made for good shadowing of Bettie's body for some beautiful nudes on the boat.
And she actually caught a fish while I was shooting her.
It was unbelievable.
I had never seen anybody catch a fish so fast.
We must have been in good waters.
But that picture that you see of Bettie holding the fish up.
That was for real.
While we were shooting some pinups on the beach one day, I asked Bettie, "Are you afraid of wild animals?"
( tribal music playing )
Bunny: I had seen too many Tarzan movies, I think.
Bettie: She set up a session for me up in Boca Raton at Little Africa to pose with the animals.
Bunny: When you come into Africa USA, they had a greeter at the gate, dressed all up like a native.
I said, "Would you like to take some pictures with my model?"
He said, "Sure. " He was happy about that.
Bettie: I was very fond of my one-piece outfit that I made with the scallops and high bottoms.
I was dressed just like a cheetah.
There wasn't much to the bottom of it, but maybe that was the most alluring part of it.
I was very proud of that design.
( Bettie laughs )
Bettie: The pictures that sold the most were with two cheetahs.
They had been sick the night before and they were in a bad temper.
I was afraid to be around 'em.
Bunny: The trainer said, "Please, don't let go of that chain, Bettie, because if they run, they run 55 miles and hour and they'll be gone. "
She kept control, and we got great pictures.
All my life I had worshiped these pinup girls on the calendars, and I thought, "I'd love to shoot a calendar of someone as beautiful as Bettie. "
And I thought, the holiday season will be coming up soon.
And I had this little white Christmas Tree.
And I had her pose, kneeling on a white shag rug.
Bettie: I didn't know that Bunny Yeager was going to send pictures to Mr. Hefner for Playboy Magazine.
Hefner: She was Miss January of 1955, but Bettie had a fame that kind of coincided and predated her appearance in Playboy.
Bettie: You know, that little Santa Claus hat and I'm winking, and I'm sitting on my knees with a little Christmas Tree ball covering "you know where".
( Bettie laughs )
She had a very unique look and also a very unique attitude.
Bettie: Back in New York, you couldn't work for lrving without doing about an hour or an hour and a half of bondage, or you didn't get paid.
Bondage, I'm noted for being the number one bondage queen, they call me.
( Bettie laughs )
Most of the work came from requests he would get in the mail, from doctors, lawyers, businessmen, men up in high society even, wanted all of these things.
Paula Klaw: One was a big official in the government and one guy was a big lawyer.
Mark: Are either of these guys still alive?
No, I don't think so.
So you care to say who they were?
Paula Klaw: The guy came in with all the rubber outfits.
And there was leather.
There's a big leather fetish out there.
Men wanted her with the boots on.
Pay for it, bring the costumes, we'll do it.
Bettie: For some reason, men like to see girls, one spanking the other one.
Why, I don't know.
And they liked to see women helpless, tied up.
I never thought it was anything strange.
Theakson: Bettie had not been exposed to this type of culture.
She was instructed that this is what the job was.
To her it was acting.
Which she enjoyed doing, which is why her bondage stuff is just so terrific, because she's acting.
She's making believe that she's terrified.
For the most part, anybody in a bondage photograph is just going on like half-assed, hardly doing it.
Bettie was acting.
Bettie: Paula, she was the only one that ever tied us up.
She didn't hurt us, she was very careful about it.
Paula Klaw: She felt safe with me being there.
Don't hurt the babies, you know.
Bettie: Some of the pictures looked like I was really being hurt.
There was only one time that I was ever frightened.
Some guy, some lawyer I think he was, wanted me tied up.
And my feet were off the ground about six inches.
I thought my arm holes were going to pull out of the sockets.
And I said, "Hurry up, it's hurting me. "
And they kept shooting me from all kinds of angles.
And finally they let me down.
And Irving later told me that those pictures sold more than any picture that he'd ever sold of movie stars than anybody else.
( Bettie laughs )
About two months later...
I was doing a little 16mm wrestling movie.
I heard something pop.
I couldn't straighten out my right knee at all.
Finally, I called a doctor.
He said, "It'll be about a six inch scar. "
He said, "You won't be able to do your pinup modeling anymore. "
I was lying in bed feeling very unhappy at the thought that I wouldn't be able to model anymore.
And all of a sudden, I heard a man's voice just as loud and clear as you'd hear any human talk.
He said, "Bettie, you can straighten out your knee. Try it. "
And within a couple of seconds I was able to straighten out my knee.
I knew immediately it was the voice of God.
Theakson: She was the girl next door.
Just so good, and went to church on Sunday, that women identified with, that they liked the idea that they could exude sexuality and not be thought of as a tramp, that she's playing a role, whether it be dominatrix or the girl next door, and it was never demeaning at any point whatsoever.
Bettie: The craziest request I ever had, this guy wanted me to pose in a black leather pony outfit that he sent to Irving and Paula.
I had to get on all fours like a horse, and my head covered up with this hood on.
I said, "Well, how would he even know who was under there at all?"
You couldn't even see my face.
We died laughing about it.
And some we turned away.
Well, there were no nudes, that's number one.
If there were men in the pictures, it was pornographic.
And we didn't want to sell anything that was pornographic.
( Menning speaking )
( knocking on door )
Bettie: These two guys came to me and said, "Bettie, we want you to testify against Irving Klaw as a pornographer. "
I said, "What are you talking about? Irving never even did nudes. "
They'd come in with search warrants.
They took a bunch of stuff.
They took a lot of the photographs and negatives of the models.
They confiscated our mail and we were getting bad publicity.
( dramatic classical music playing )
( gavel bangs )
Male announcer: Repercussions from the New York hearings have been nationwide, with contempt and perjury citations indicated by the committee.
Bettie: Now there's supposed to be a young boy, I think he was 17 years old, somewhere in Florida.
The Kefauver committee was blaming me for contributing to juvenile delinquency because this boy killed himself looking at one of my bondage pictures.
What would I have to do with that?
Man: Sir, I direct your attention specifically to page 3 of this publication, showing a young lady trussed up.
And ask you to look at that picture, with her arms tied behind her back, her mouth gagged.
There is a definite connection between this sort of thing and his death.
Bettie: They made me come down to the courthouse, and they had me sit outside the courtroom while they had Irving on the stand.
Man: Mr. Chairman, our investigation reveals that Mr. Klaw is one of the largest distributors of obscene, lewd, and fetish photographs throughout the country by mail.
I decline to answer under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.
Well, Mr. Klaw, I must warn you that I'll have you cited for contempt.
Do you still refuse to answer?
I decline to answer.
Would that be sufficient or should I say it all the way through, Mr. Kefauver?
Kefauver: We're not asking any quarter nor giving any quarter, Mr. Klaw.
Bettie: Those creeps.
Ol' Kefauver and his committee.
I told them, "I'm not testifying and lying about Irving Klaw. "
I said, "I don't care. You can't force me to do it. "
I said, "I won't do it. "
But we also went before the judge.
And the judge said, "You want to keep your freedom, you have to destroy all the negatives. "
I said that was wrong.
We have every right to do and print whatever we like.
We're not hurting anybody.
And so I was the one that was in charge of chucking it away.
But I didn't.
We did hide them, until we were sure that the courts would throw it out and agree that this was not pornography.
I kept the ones I know I could sell, just the ones with Bettie.
I knew one day these were going to be famous.
Bettie: She was able to sneak a few of mine away that they didn't know about.
Nearly all three-fourths of his pictures that he had taken in his movie star photos and all, they were all burned.
And it just ruined the poor man and put him in bad health, and he ended up dying.
I always thought, live and let live.
Let anybody do what they want to do as long as they're not hurting anybody else.
I still feel that way.
Mark: There was a lot of people in America that would have considered what you were doing to be nasty back in those days.
I never thought I was doing anything wrong.
I never even thought there was anything wrong about the bondage.
The only thing I regret in all of my modeling experience, one time three camera clubs got together.
And they got me to drinking blackberry brandy, it's very tasty, you know.
And I must have gotten drunk, the only time in my life I was drunk.
But I don't remember what happened, I remember starting to pose for them in my regular poses but never open poses.
And there were four or five shots.
And I was so disappointed in it.
That's one of the reasons I left New York, was because of those pornographic pictures being sold on me.
I was 34 in 1957, and I thought I was getting too old to model.
And that there were so many pictures of me around, I thought the photographers were tired of shooting me.
And then too I'd had all that unhappy experience with the Kefauver committee.
So I just left everything.
She just disappeared and there was much mystique about her.
Nobody knew beyond that, that their was a fascinating story about this woman, who reached the peak of popularity in her profession and disappeared.
Over my years of research, I heard a lot of crazy rumors.
That she was slinging hash in Texas, that she had married Lash LaRue, that she had moved to England and married a duke.
That the mob had rubbed her out because of a photo shoot gone bad.
That she had passed out literature in the Chicago O'Hare airport for Billy Graham.
That was the only one that was true.
The whole Bettie Page phenomenon, which is separate from the human being, developed while she was simply off the scene, and she was not really aware of it.
Bettie: It still amazes me after 40 years, as popular as my pictures are now, especially with young people.
Most of the boys say they learned about me from their fathers' girly magazines that they found in the attic, or prowling through their fathers' dresser drawers and things like that.
( Bettie chuckles )
And they claim that I opened up the sexual revolution.
( chuckles )
Robert Blue: The first time that I ever saw Bettie Page in any of this material, I mean, I immediately recognized her as someone that had the visual power to provoke something inside.
I was thinking that I was doing something that was part of the modernist movement of painting and that was to take a taboo photograph, blow it up bigger than life-size in a beautiful oil painting, and put it in a high-end gallery.
Bettie Page really set the stage for the vogue photographers that came in the '7 0s and the '80s.
Olivia De Berardinis: There's never been anyone like Bettie before.
Monroe had Harlow and Dietrich, she had all those blond bombshells, but Bettie, there was nothing like Bettie.
She's the first icon of her nature.
And feminism has changed, so women are actually using sexuality in a different way, they're more accepting of it.
I would paint a few pictures and then I would see them appear in front of me.
And the girls would start showing up dressed like her.
Either they had purple hair, but they'd have the Bettie Page bangs, they'd be tattooed.
It'd be a form of Bettie, but different.
Bettie meant something to them.
So I kept painting Bettie for them.
The fetishistic outfits that she wore, I mean, those are dreams to paint.
You know, the seam stockings, the garter belts, the snub-nosed stilettos, and that hair.
It's a lot of fun to paint those things.
Her attitude, her eyes, the steam that rises from them.
That's the most important thing to me.
She makes it accessible that anybody can be having this fun, you're not going to go to hell for it.
( spank slaps skin )
When AIDS came out as the huge plague, and anybody who had sex could get it and die this horrible death, I think that people really identify with Bettie as fantasy instead of the actual sex act, so it was just a matter of survival.
I could see that Bettie was getting more popular in so many other directions.
And Dave Stevens' the Rocketeer happened.
I came across a full page photograph of her standing in water in a little bikini that she made and just was knocked out, totally.
I remember thinking, this has got to be the most attractive, she just exuded health and joy and everything else that's like so appealing.
Dave's foundation certainly led to the Betty Pages.
At the time, nobody had reprinted a picture of Bettie Page in two or three decades.
The first issue of the Betty Pages sold out in two weeks.
But word filtered back immediately.
Can you do a reprint of this?
It sold out instantly on the newsstands, I had no idea.
And when I say newsstands, I mean comic book stores, that was my only distribution outlet at the time.
But there was an audience waiting.
Thank you, Dave Stevens.
The readers already knew who she was.
Olivia: Then Bettie really became bigger in the fashion world:
Gaultier, Muggler, the S&M world, through Madonna.
♪ You held me down and tried to make me break ♪
♪ Express yourself, don't repress yourself♪
♪ Did I say something true? ♪
♪ Oops, I didn't know I couldn't talk about sex. ♪ Olivia: You just couldn't get around her, she was a force to be reckoned with.
She just became part of the culture.
Bob Shultz and I started this club, the "Bettie Scouts"-- tongue and cheek title, kind of line Boy Scouts of America, but Bettie Scouts of America--
'cause we spent a lot of time going around the country scouting for Bettie Page.
And when we started it, we did not know if Bettie was still alive.
My gut feeling was she had probably passed away, 'cause I couldn't understand how somebody could be under the radar that many years, when people were actively looking for her.
I got a call from a reporter in Nashville, Tennessee named Thomas Goldsmith.
I would give him credit with finding Bettie Page.
And he said, "Do you know where Bettie's at?"
And I said, "No, I'm just like all the rest in the people in the country trying to figure out what happened to Bettie Page. "
He said, "Bettie Page is alive.
And I'm gonna give you a big clue.
She has a living brother in Nashville."
Within minutes, I called Jack Page.
I said, "If I write a letter to Bettie, would you forward it to her?"
And I wrote the letter, I believe it was, April--
April, May, 1992.
I didn't hear anything 'til December of 1992.
And I could remember that, that was one of the most excited days of my life.
I went to the mailbox and here's a letter, and it says in the corner, "Bettie Page. "
She used to write everything in this turquoise ink.
Very identifiable ink.
It's like her trademark.
And she was so flattered to have a fan club, she couldn't believe that people had any interest in her after all these years.
For about a year, we did this little relay of letters.
And then finally in August of 1999, my wife and I drove out to California and met Bettie face to face.
We spent a lot of time talking about the Bible, because she loved the Bible.
And I enjoy reading the Bible too, so we just had a good old time.
And then to think, you know, here I'm just a guy collecting old magazines and kind of becomes infatuated with this pinup girl from the '50s, and to think that this could materialize to the point that I get to meet her, her family, her sisters, her brothers.
Mark: Now, did your family know that you were a pinup model?
Bettie: They never said a word to me about it, never commented about it and nether did my mother.
One time, I was looking in her closet when she was gone to work, and I found a whole big stack of Robert Harrison's pinup magazines, with my pictures marked and the pages turned down in it.
Never said a word to me, one way or another about it, never even mentioned it and I didn't either.
Theakson: She was living way out in the fringes of Los Angeles, you went any further, there was no more humanity.
And she explained that she'd had some difficulties and that she was on Social Security.
Mark: Now, when you walked away from the modeling career, you never really looked back at it, did you?
Bettie: I didn't want to be bothered.
I'd rather be incognito, like I am nowadays.
( Bettie chuckles )
After I left New York, I went back to Florida, and I just wanted to enjoy the sunshine and do something else.
I started up with my old boyfriend Armond Walterson that I had dated in 1954 when I was in Florida posing for Bunny Yeager.
He was going with Margaret.
As soon as I called him up he dropped Margaret like a hot potato and started dating me.
Every Saturday night, we'd go to the drive in and we would sit in the car and make love.
We didn't watch the movies half the time.
( Bettie chuckles )
When I met him, he didn't even know how to kiss.
I taught him everything he knew.
He learned fast though.
Two months after the wedding, I realized that I made a mistake.
All we had in common was movies, sex, and hamburgers.
If ever I've been stupid about anything in my life it's where men are concerned about marriage.
Here's what broke it all up.
This was the beginning of New Year's 1958.
We got into a big argument because he wanted to go and get drunk with his buddies, and I wanted to go dancing like I'd been in the habit of doing on New Year's Eve, so he left at about 20 minutes to 12.
And I went walking out White Street.
And I saw a little church over there, and heard music, singing.
It had a white neon cross over the top of it.
And I just had to go, like somebody had me by the hand, I had to cross the street and go in there, I'm telling you.
I knew it was the Lord, nobody would ever convince me it wasn't him.
I stood back there and cried about all my sins.
I thought God disapproved of me doing nudes, you know.
I didn't think anything about the fetish and the bondage for Irving, but I had to do that.
But I thought maybe He looked down on me for posing in the nude.
That's what I was telling the pastor, and he said, "Have you ever done anything as bad as the apostle Paul?"
I said, "What did he do?"
I didn't know the Bible.
He said, "Well, he had the Christians murdered.
Have you ever done anything that bad?"
I said, "No, of course not. "
He said, "Well, God forgave him and made him the greatest missionary of all time.
He can certainly forgive you for posing in the nude, don't you think?"
And I received the Lord Jesus as my savior and I turned my life over to the Lord, and went to Bible schools for three years.
They were very strict, you know.
I always loved dancing.
I couldn't even go dancing, couldn't even go to the movies.
The only movie I was allowed to attend during those three years was The Ten Commandments.
I wanted to be a missionary.
I thought God wanted me to be a missionary.
But you know, when I graduated and I went to a mission board, they would not take me because I had been divorced.
To some Christians, especially the fundamentalists, being divorced is worse than having committed murder!
They got me to believe that I would be out of the will of God if I didn't go back and lead my first husband to the Lord and marry him again.
Well, I led him to the Lord and he prayed with me to receive Jesus and I thought he was sincere and I married him again.
One month I was in his house.
The man would not even have sex with me.
And I see him, I said, "What's the matter, Billy?"
He said, "Well, you're filthy. You've still got a venereal disease. "
I said, "Where did you ever hear anything like that?"
He said, "Everybody knows it. "
I said, "Everybody's a liar, I've never had a venereal disease in my life. "
Well, do you know, he grabbed me by the throat, I mean, he was choking me.
I was finally able to get his hands off enough to scream out loud, "Billy, if you kill me, God will never forgive you!"
He let go, and he got up and went in his room.
The man almost choked me to death.
But that was the worst thing that ever happened to me.
I almost lost my life over it.
I had the thing annulled right away, since it was never consummated sexually.
After I spent a year and a half working on a masters degree at Peabody, I just lacked four credits now, getting the masters, and I just got tired of studying.
So I left Nashville.
I went back to Miami and I started going dancing again.
And one night I saw this handsome fella.
She didn't look like a model of any kind, you know.
She's just a healthy looking young lady.
Well, not so young, she was in her forties, but just looked like a nice person.
So I went out on the floor and asked her to dance, and she says, "Certainly, I'd love to dance with you."
So we danced and we danced, we danced all night.
She was the most unpretentious person that I have ever met.
I called her the next day and we were inseparable.
Bettie: He was divorced.
He says, "I have two boys and a girl. "
I said, "Two boys and a girl, that's what I always wanted. "
Well, I couldn't have children, I tried for years.
But I was attracted to Harry from the word "go".
I just wanted to be with him and to make love to him.
Harry: I didn't know a thing about her.
We went out on this pier, and I was looking through the post cards and I saw this post card and I looked at that post card, and I looked over at her and I looked at the card again.
It was Bettie.
Bettie: It says, "Wow! We alligators have such fun in Florida. "
( Bettie chuckles )
Harry: She told me that she modeled a lot.
And she told me she never posed nude.
( Harry laughs )
It didn't make any difference to me.
The people on the beach, their heads would turn and follow us, not me of course, but they would follow us walking along the beach.
Bettie: We got married on Valentine's Day 1967 with his three children as witnesses to the wedding.
Harry: I had a nice new home for Bettie and the children, everything was set up perfect, you know.
And then we had an addition put on the house with a cement roof on top, and then I had a three foot wall around the top of it, she'd sunbathe in the nude up there sometimes.
Bettie: He was a hard worker.
Harry was a good provider, a good lover, now, he was one of the best lovers I ever had in my life.
And he was very considerate of me, always thinking of my pleasure before his own.
I'm not anymore, but I was a very good lover, and she was a very good lover.
We enjoyed thrilling each other.
Oh, by the way, that leopard skin robe, you know.
She still had that.
And in the morning she'd put it on, and in the evening she'd put it on.
It just turned me wild when I saw her walking around with that thing on.
( Mark laughing )
Bettie: Well, the children were just as sweet and nice to me during the months that I dated Harry.
But soon as I moved into the house, everything changed.
His ex-wife, she was so jealous of me with the children, and she called me up at 4:00 in the morning and cussed me out.
It was getting on my nerves, I wasn't getting any sleep, and I was very unhappy.
So I stuck it out for five years.
I started losing my love for Harry when he wouldn't make those children mind me or do anything I asked them to do.
Harry: She wanted to start going to church again.
And the whole family went to church together.
We went Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday evening.
I mean, it got to be like sort of a fanatic thing, you know.
I could see it in her eyes.
We'd go to church and she'd blast out singing, not boisterous or anything but real loud voice singing.
Tears came down her cheeks, and she'd get real emotional.
She was so obsessed with things of the Lord.
Why should I stop her if...
...if she wanted to go and serve God, or the Lord, or be a missionary.
Bettie: I got divorced on January 17, 1972, then I went to Bible Town, which is 70 miles up near Boca Raton, Florida.
While I was up there, I started imagining that I was hearing somebody talking to me on my tape recorder, and I thought I was really listening to God and the angels and the devil.
I lost a lot of weight then, I wasn't eating because they were keeping me awake talking all night.
It had built up in my mind so much that my mind snapped.
Harry: She had caused some kind of a disturbance.
The police called me and asked me if I could come up and pick her up.
I put her out there in my, I think it was my bedroom, and I slept on the couch at the time.
I thought I owed it to her.
What would happen if I kicked her out?
And the state of Florida in no way is good to mental illness.
And I tried to get her going in places and they wouldn't bother with her.
She had lost it, there's no doubt about it.
Bettie called us into the living room, me and my son Larry and Brad, called us over by this picture of Jesus Christ, with a knife in her hand.
She said, "If you take your eyes off him, I'm going to cut your guts out. "
Whoa, you know, here I was.
I could read Bettie pretty good and I felt safe that she wasn't going to do it right then.
I said, "Bettie, I've got to go to the bathroom, I've got to relieve myself real bad."
So I went back into the bedroom, picked up the phone, called the Hialeah Police.
I let the cop in the front door.
Bettie went peacefully, with a blank look on her face.
Bettie: I ended up having a nervous breakdown and hearing voices, and had to go to the hospital because of it.
They took me to Jackson Memorial Hospital.
They have on the fifth floor a psychiatric ward.
I was just there two months.
They gave me this horrible thorazine.
I felt like I had sparks and things going in my head, and you feel like you're going to die right after, for an hour or two after you take the thorazine.
But it knocked the voices right out of me though.
Harry: She was completely medicated all the time.
Mark: Now, when she was getting treatment, do you know if they gave her any shock treatment?
Harry: I think she had two.
Jimmy, one time he came up to the house after Bettie was with me awhile.
He said, "I'm gonna take Bettie back to California with me, we're gonna get a place, we're gonna live together, we're gonna get a house or something."
California, it's a very liberal state, and their mental facilities are the best in the world.
Bettie: Jimmy and I were close when we were growing up.
I didn't have any money hardly.
I had just enough to get to California at the time.
Jimmy was supposed to meet her in California, didn't show up.
That's why she got in trouble.
Richard W. Bann: She was trying to get rent receipts from her landlord.
She was hearing voices, I guess telling her to do some pretty awful things.
And she thought it was the devil speaking to her.
And she did tell me, "I had a knife and I was upset with my landlady, and I wrestled her to the ground and I straddled her, and I told her that I was going to cut her up."
The lady did not die.
The lady got cut pretty severally on her hand.
Bleeding, blood everywhere.
Obvious that the lady needed stitches.
She was stabbed like 20 or 30 times.
She pleaded insanity to this charge of "attempt to commit murder" and this assault so they then put her away for ten years.
Bettie: You talked to the psychiatrist, I think it was, three times a week for half an hour.
And you went to groups, mostly group therapy as they call it.
You just talked about why or what caused you to have your breakdown, and I was put on something called Novane and Artane.
She had never hinted about any of the trouble with the law, any of the mental institution years, any of that.
Bettie: I didn't think it was something anybody would want to hear about.
And it was not anybody's business.
A lot of people still look down on you if you've had a nervous breakdown.
They still thinking like they did a hundred years ago about it.
Bann: Bettie's the one that paid the price, spending 9 or 10 years at Patton State in a horrible, horrible situation.
I learned that she was paranoid schizophrenic.
That's an enormous cross to bare.
And whereas she had her parents to thank for her amazing good looks, it was a mixed blessing because her parents were also responsible for this genetic predisposition towards paranoid schizophrenia, plus her mother didn't want her, and her father molested her.
Those are heavy burdens to deal with.
She was probably one of the most strong willed people anyone's ever going to meet.
And she'd admit that she had fallen down but she was going to renew, with great enthusiasm and optimism that this time she would get it right.
I told her that anytime there's anything she needs, that there are thousands of people who would just do anything for her if they had the chance.
The one who really did the most for her was Dave Stevens, to the point of she would call him to go out and bring her food or take her to the doctor.
Stevens: I took her into Tower Records and I steered her around to the book section, and there on an end cap of an aisle of books was a display of nothing but Bettie Page books, and she just stood there in amazement.
She gets so tickled when she sees some new book with her picture on it or some... whatever product it is, even if she's not getting any money for it.
Bann: Dave knew that Bettie had been Miss January 1955, and he knew that Hef had never met Bettie Page and suggested that they meet.
Bettie: And he invited me to dinner at his home, the most beautiful home I've ever been in in my life.
Looks like a big castle up in Beverly Hills.
So usually at the Playboy Mansion, everyone has cameras, everything is being recorded.
But on this night, because of Bettie being so private, so discreet, no cameras.
Bettie: I liked Mr. Hefner.
He was a very nice, down to earth fella.
And he greeted us, Dave Stevens and I, in his pajamas, now, a smoking jacket and his purple, satin pajamas.
And Hef had arranged for a loan of a 35mm print of "The Rocketeer", which was Dave Stevens' creation, from Disney.
And Bettie had never seen the film.
She wanted to see this film that was an homage to her, inspired by her.
♪ You're a sweet little headache ♪
♪ But you are lots of fun ♪
♪ I've a good mind to spank you... ♪ There was an unauthorized film made in 2005 called "The Notorious Bettie Page".
This is quite an elegant knot, because the more the subject pulls the tighter the knot becomes.
She didn't like the word "Notorious" in the title.
And do you approve?
I believe in Jesus.
Well, of course you do, my dear.
Of course you do.
Bann: But all of a sudden, here's what you heard from the back of the screening room.
"Lies, lies, lies!
Why don't you tell the truth?"
( woman gasps )
Hefner: When she resurfaced here in California, she was not being properly represented by anybody, and a lot of people were exploiting her and taking advantage of her.
And I was able to put her in the hands of more appropriate business people, legal people, so that she had the right kind of representation and somebody to look after her and take care of her.
And we've been very close ever since.
And I had a call from Mr. Hefner, who asked me if I would help out a friend of his and try to see that anything that was done with Bettie's name and likeness ultimately had her approval on it and of course she would receive some type of compensation for it.
Bettie: I made more money in very recent years than I ever made during the seven years I was modeling back in the '50s.
Bettie was able to enjoy life more because of what she could do in the later part of her life.
( people chattering )
I think she had an incredible charm.
She had an incredible aura, or how you say it, charisma.
And I think a lot of models learned from her.
There's nothing intimidating about Bettie.
Women can appreciate her, men can appreciate her.
Most of them, you don't really remember the the person, but her, you know, you say, "Oh yeah, that's Bettie Page. "
She's also has had the keen sense of timing to know exactly when not to appear, which is hard.
Man #1 : Go ahead, Bettie.
Bettie: Hello every one of you.
( crowd oohs ) Hi, Bettie.
Bettie: Thank you very much.
Gee, sounds like a big mob.
Man #1 : It is a big mob.
Man #2: Bettie, you have thrown the coolest opening in SoHo that I've seen.
Bettie: I hope you like my book, I'm very pleased with it.
Woman: And we're just all super fans of yours, and we all wanted to say congratulations, and three cheers to Bettie Page.
( cheering and applause )
When I realized it was really big is when I got the first Bettie Scouts of America fan letter from China.
I mean, it's literally all over the world.
New Zealand, Australia, all over Europe.
She's very very popular in Japan.
Very popular in England, France and Germany.
Chantal Thomass: Always I had been inspired by Bettie Page, and then the pinups from the '50s and Bettie is the one, the most extreme and most special one.
Chantal Thomass (in French): Bettie Page was way ahead of her time...
She influenced [Theiry Mugler, Gauliter].
I mean, she did it with humor, and I'll always work on my design in lingerie with humor.
I mean, it has to be sexy, but it must have a small part of humor.
Bettie Page can be an example for women to be beautiful, fun, sexy, and why not, intelligent.
Lisa, we got another postcard from your father.
Wish you were her.
How many of these things is he going to send me?
Beyonce: ♪ Why don't you love me? ♪
♪ Tell me baby why don't you love me ♪
♪ When I make me so damn easy to love. ♪
Brewster: You know, when I started seeing girls, teenage, twenty, young girls, with Bettie tattoos, I could not believe it.
♪ And why don't you need me? ♪ Brewster: They're looking at her as a role model, as this symbol of joyous sexual freedom.
♪ Tell me, baby, why don't you love me ♪
♪ When I make me so damn easy to love? ♪
Bann: It's a tribute to her.
These heartbreaking good looks, the riveting appeal of her personality, still to this day inspires the kind of response that you get from artists, fashion designers, and the fandom, which we know is incredible.
The Bettie Page they love is very real.
In other words, I think that she had this kind of amoral attitude towards sexuality and nudity, and even, you know, the bondage things.
She did not disgrace those who looked more sternly upon portraits of sexuality.
I think she handled her phases of life with dignity.
The suggestion back then that sex was simply a natural, normal part of life was very revolutionary, and helped to change the values of our time.
I think that in that context Bettie Page is truly iconic.
If you think the images are wonderful, you have no idea.
She's a wonderful human being.
Bettie: I never thought of myself as anything special or important.
I was just doing my job and enjoyed ever bit of it.
( Bettie laughs )
And I'm so thankful that you like my pictures and that you care as much as you do about me, and I wish you all the best, every one of you.
( "21 st Century Bettie Page" by Jack Rabbit Slim playing )
♪ Well I've seen her face, in a magazine ♪
♪ She was looking real cute ♪
♪ Yea, without her jeans ♪
♪ She was staring back at me ♪
♪ With those cunning bad eyes ♪
♪ I got so turned on, it was hard to disguise ♪
♪ The 21 st Century Bettie Page ♪
♪ The 21 st Century Bettie Page ♪
♪ Well she's got a different look, it's from another page ♪
♪ She's a 21 st Century Bettie Page ♪
♪ Well, I found her name from a mixed flat mate... ♪ I am a huge fan, I love her.
We are the daughters of Bettie Page.
There's a little Bettie in all of us.
Everyone has a dark side to them and she just showed her dark side the best way possible.
Wild, strong, liberated, yet extremely sexy woman.
Bettie: Hello? Bettie?
It's been so many years. This is Paula Klaw, how are you?
Very good. Gee, you sound like a young girl.
I like my privacy these days, I don't even give out interviews at all.
Yeah, I know. Good for you.
So what's your biggest seller now?
You're kidding, I don't believe you.
Do believe me. Everybody wants your pictures, Bettie.
I know, I can't get over the popularity.
Well, I'm sure you must have been doing something right.
( Bettie laughs )
I don't know, it amazes me, I'm telling you.
I don't understand it at all.
Well, what a delight to talk to you after so many years.
( Bettie laughs ) Okay.
Okay. All right.
Okay, sweetheart, it was a delight talking to you.
Same here, Paula.
Okay, love you, sweetheart.
And I think of you fondly and Irving too.
Thank you, darling.
Bye bye. Bye bye.
I didn't hardly recognize her voice, it's even so much deeper.
I guess in the years your voice changes, 'cause she's got like a hoarseness to her voice.
But the same Bettie.
Love her, she sounds so great.
( "Oh Betty" by Olivia Olson playing )
♪ Oh Betty ♪
♪ Sweet and fun and kind of saucy ♪
♪ You can be a little bossy ♪
♪ But I don't care ♪
♪ Just wink at me in your underwear ♪
♪ Oh Betty ♪
♪ The world is not quite ready ♪
♪ For you and your satin teddy ♪
♪ But you're a star ♪
♪ And I will take you just the way you are ♪
♪ Betty, in color or black and white ♪
♪ On a bear skin rug ♪
♪ Or dressed up tight ♪
♪ Betty, with a smile so sweet ♪
♪ It just melts my heart ♪
♪ Maybe some day we'll meet ♪
♪ Maybe some day we'll meet ♪
♪ Betty, can you stay the night? ♪
♪ Don't have to ask your mother ♪
♪ If it will be all right ♪
♪ Betty, please say you might ♪
♪ Betty, please say you might. ♪