Bettie Page's life was filled with cult myth, mystery and sadness. Her image captured the imagination of a generation with her free spirit and unabashed sensuality, during an era of strong sexual repression. She was the quintessential pin-up, tacked up on walls in military barracks and garages.
In her teens, Bettie acted in high school plays and was a straight-A student. She graduated from the Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville on a Daughters of the American Revolution scholarship in 1944, and went on to study drama in New York City.
In 1959, she was lying on a sea wall in Key West when she saw a church with a white neon cross on top. She walked inside and became a born-again Christian. She worked full-time for evangelist Billy Graham's ministry. However, a move to Southern California in 1979 brought her more troubles. She was arrested after an altercation with her landlady. Doctors diagnosed her as suffering from acute schizophrenia, and she spent 20 months in a state mental hospital and she was subsequently placed under state supervision for eight years.
Her mysterious disappearance from the public eye only fueled the public's fascination. In fact, for two decades no one was sure where she was or even if she was still alive. She resurfaced in the 1990s after being tracked down for a documentary. She occasionally granted interviews and sold autographs, but refused to allow her picture to be taken in her old age. After a three-week battle with pneumonia, Bettie Page suffered a fatal heart attack at age 85 on December 11, 2008.