The Bad News on Bettie Page
Bettie Page in coma following heart attack
By Marc Savlov, 10:45AM, Wed. Dec. 10, 2008
Egads but it's been a lousy week for genre film fans. We'll get around to all the unjoy as soon as possible, but for the moment we'll lead with the sad news about the notorious Bettie Page.
The iconic, Fiftes-era pin-up queen and pop-cultural touchstone is in a coma following a heart attack on Dec. 2. Page, 85, is presently listed in critical condition at a Los Angeles hospital, as reported by Aint It Cool News and more retro geek-chic, Bettie-friendly blogs than we can count on ten cat o' nine tails.
For those of you living in the Bible Belt (or thereabouts), here's a sampling of what the hubbub's about, the classic PG-13-friendly stag loop "Bettie Page's Fireplace Dance."
This being Austin, the raven-haired goddess has a local connection, of sorts, in the form of author/publisher Rick Klaw, whose grandfather Irving Klaw was the photographer behind many of Page's most famous photo shoots and nudie-cutie film reels.
We rang up Klaw, who's working on a mammoth Bettie-related project of his own, to get his take on Page's enduring (and endearing) pop-culture status.
"Bettie Page represents something that no longer exists," Klaw told us. "She's both nostalgic and contemporary, because so much of her has influenced popular culture but yet, to this day, her [photos and films] feel very much of another time. She represents this ideal of innocence, of the girl next door variety, and you don't really see that anymore in modeling.
"With Bettie Page, she could be holding a whip in her hand while wearing five-inch stiletto heels and straddling another person and still look like she was the girl next door.
"So much of the pop culture that surrounds us is influenced by the work she did with my grandfather. There's only one other woman from the fifties that even comes close to Bettie Page's level of cultural saturation, and that is, of course, Marilyn Monroe. And there were many beautiful women in the fifties, and many very popular women in the fifties, but Bettie Page and Marilyn Monroe are the one that have really just gone to a whole other level of notoriety."
And that's our cue...