Page last updated at 10:06 GMT, Friday, 12 December 2008

50s pin-up queen Bettie Page dies

Undated photo of Bettie Page
Page was one of the most photographed women of her time

Bettie Page, one of the most famous US pin-up models of the 1950s, has died in Los Angeles, aged 85.

Her provocative poses - often in bikinis - made her a cult figure and she was one of the first models to appear in Playboy magazine.

Bettie Page was credited with helping to pave the way for the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

Some pictures of her showing bondage and spanking generated controversy and attracted a congressional subpoena.

The secretary-turned-model was admitted to hospital last month, suffering from pneumonia. She had a heart attack last week and never regained consciousness.

'Iconic figure'

"With deep personal sadness I must announce that my dear friend and client Bettie Page passed away at 1841 this evening (0241 GMT Friday) in a Los Angeles hospital," her agent Mark Roesler said.

"She captured the imagination of a generation with her free spirit and unabashed sensuality", he said. "She is the embodiment of beauty".

Bettie Page in the 1954 film Varietease
I never thought it was shameful. I felt it was normal
Bettie Page

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner called her a "very dear person", AP reported.

"I think that she was a remarkable lady, an iconic figure in pop culture who influenced sexuality, taste in fashion, someone who had a tremendous impact on our society," Hefner was quoted as saying.

Bettie Mae Page was born in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1923. Her career took off after an amateur photographer in New York asked her to pose for pictures in 1950.

She featured in posters and photographs, including one of the early centrefolds of Playboy magazine.

However not everyone was happy with the pictures. Some US lawmakers were concerned they amounted to pornography and subpoenaed Page to testify at a congressional hearing, although in the end she never had to appear.

Looking back on her career, she told Playboy in 1998: "I never thought it was shameful. I felt normal. It's just that it was much better than pounding a typewriter eight hours a day, which gets monotonous."

She was married three times but had no children.

She disappeared from public view in the late 1950s, turning to religion and battling mental illness. However, decades later, she became the subject of renewed interest.

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In pictures: Bettie Page
12 Dec 08 |  In Pictures

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