Whoosh! Issue 34 - July 1999

IAXS project #641
By Nancy Phaup
Content copyright © 1998 held by author
848 words

Similarities (01-03)
Betty Page Biography (04-07)
Conclusion (08-09)
Betty Page Stats
Betty Page Chronology
Acknowledgments and Websites

Betty Page and Lucy Lawless

"The first time I saw her was... on a balmy fall afternoon in New York. ... A door opened and she came. I turned to look at the long legs, the white, white skin and the black, black, black hair cut in bangs straight across her forehead. And, of coarse, the smile. It was the smile that could break your heart."
  --Buck Henry, Betty Page Confidential


[1] Buck Henry's description of Betty Page could just as easily have been written in the 90s about Lucy Lawless. Xena fans everywhere should recognize the obvious visual elements that link the two actors. The other half of this story, however, revolves around the simple fact that Lucy Lawless was not just randomly chosen as a Betty Page look alike. She was molded, either consciously or unconsciously, to look like Ms. Page.

I never had to work with rats. Well, not the rodents. I get to act.

Squint your eyes and you'll have a hard time telling 'em apart.
[2] Xena, the headstrong hero, is played by an actress who is not a natural brunette. Certainly, Ms. Lawless is tall and leggy by birth, but her hair is colored black, and her cut is almost an exact copy of Ms. Page's. The similarities between the two women are more than just superficial, however.

[3] Many women will readily admit that a strong, powerful, almost mythic figure like Xena can encourage and empower us all. It is my firm belief that the courage of women like Betty Page laid a foundation upon which we can all stand.

Betty Page Biography

[4] On the surface, Ms. Page's story may not seem like a happy one. She went to both Hollywood and New York hoping to make it as an actor, hoping to be "dis"covered. When, in 1952, she was finally "un"covered it was not in the way she had originally intended. An amateur photographer, Jerry Tibbs, found her on Long Island beach and took some photos. It was the beginning of a long, if unusual career.

[5] The bondage pictures she eventually posed for were amazing. When I see them I cannot believe the sheer courage it took to pose for those pictures in the 1950s. For her they were, however, simply a job, an opportunity to practice her art. She became known as "the Queen of Bondage", but she wanted to free herself of this image. Betty took acting lessons, and she tried out for summer stock and Broadway.

[6] Her acting ambitions were not immediately rewarded, and she moved into a period in her life where many different photographers would seek her out as a model for an hourly fee. She had few known male companions and fewer female ones. During the summer of 1954, Betty met her own blond good-luck photographer, Bunny Yeager. Like Gabrielle, Bunny helped Betty get a "new look" that was more clean-cut yet still sexual. With Bunny's lingerie and swimsuit outdoor shots, Betty became an instant success as a top model of the 1950's. Bunny's "Santa Claus" nude photos of Betty became the Playboy 1955 January centerfold.

Betty took the spots, Bunny took the hair color

Bunny and Betty and friends
[7] Her career went down hill from there, and unfortunately, there were rough personal times ahead. She was called to testify before a McCarthy Era congressional committee that was seeking to weed out obscenity. There, Senator Refauver reprimanded her and lectured her on the sins of pornography. I cannot imagine going through something like that. In 1957, Betty Page disappeared from public life and spent to the next 40 years seeking religion and a family life.


[8] With recent talk of censoring the Internet and investigations into Presidential "immorality", we can see that some things never change. Page never intended to be a hero, to become a symbol of sexuality and of power, but somewhere along the way, she did. Her legend and legacy have indeed become larger than life.

[9] As I look at the many strong female images the 90s have given us, from Madonna, to Hilary, to Xena, I cannot help but think of Betty Page, the woman who helped make strong women possible in her own small way.

Betty Page Stats

'Broad'-minded. Get it? Get it? Broads? What a bunch of cards.

One of Betty's magazine covers
Born: April 22, 1923 in Nashville Tennessee
Eyes: Blue-Gray
Hair: Black
Height: 5' 5.5"
Weight: 128 - 130 (1950's)
Measurements: 36-23-35

Betty Page Chronology

1950 Began to pose for Camera Clubs and Girlie Magazines
1953 Top Model of Photos, Films, Magazines and Comics
1955 January Playboy Centerfold
1957 Disappears 70s through 90s. Then, Betty's work is rediscovered and she becomes a Cult Legend.
1993 Betty is finally found still alive.
Present Her latest interview is in the January 1998 issue of Playboy. Betty is now about 75 and living in California

Acknowledgments and Websites

Special thanks to Betty Page Confidential, which is available at Amazon.com and to LuvChyld and tgess for the photos and information. For further information on Betty Page please check out:


Nancy Phaup Nancy Phaup
A woman of mystery.

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