Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rest in Peace, Bettie Page.

I usually think people who get all emotional about every celebrity death are kinda pathetic, but every once in awhile, one really hits home.

Earlier today, Bettie Page died after complications with pneumonia and a heart attack.

Yes, she took often took off various articles of clothing to earn her paycheck, but behind the lack of outfits or the crazy outfits, she was a southern gal who believed that nudity was not something to be ashamed of (and if I had her body, you'd have a hard time in keeping me in much more than a bikini), she remained a believer in God and faith throughout her life, and she was someone who was just trying to be as good of a person as she could.

I've been a huge fan of hers for a long time.... it started in college. There was just something so captivating about a woman who could model as well as she did.... you always believe her pictures. She tried to be an actress, but the picture was where she did her best work. From innocent to dominating, she could pull off any look. Girl was 33 when she was January 1955 Playboy centerfold. And she was rockin', and this was long before the airbrushed and silicone filled girls that grace the pages of that magazine now.

She had some bad periods in life.... but in the end, there were longtime friends like Hugh Hefner and new friends there to take care of her. And I thank them for that. Sometimes, a person just can be too "good" and be taken advantage of by others. And that's what happened to Bettie.

I started collecting Bettie Page stuff and I have quite a bit of it, including a few autographed photos that have yet to be hung in the new house but will be soon. My senior year in college, we had to do a spoke presentation in our last honors course, and I did mine on Bettie (and no, it was one performance only - especially since further books on her life reveal some glaring factual errors that weren't known to the public at the time. And it's long. Like, 14 pages long). I recall I did quite well on it. But what sticks with me is the last line (was done almost like a one-sided "interview" with Bettie) I wrote for her... "I don’t know why I’m a hero. I’m just me."

You were, Bettie. A hero to some, yes, but more than that, you were you. You were never anything but you - a woman in the '50s who was independent and had her own beliefs, and you tried to find your place in this world. It's what everyone, everywhere is trying to do. And that is while we'll miss you.

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