Bettie Page (also commonly spelled Betty Page, Bettie Paige or Betty Paige) was born Bettie Mae Page on April 22, 1923 with long jet black hair with bangs (known as Bettie Page bangs to some) and the face of an angel. I’ve seen some of her legal documents and her name is spelled Bettie Page on them so I am going with that as the official spelling. She grew up poor in Nashville, Tennessee living on “beans, fried potatoes and macaroni.” She was 1 of 7 children with 2 older sisters.
Her mother couldn’t handle this sexually dominant and abusive man and Bettie’s parents split when she was
11 years old. But Bettie’s mom didn’t want her either and told her that frequently. Bettie said that she could only remember her mother hugging her once. Her mother, being an uneducated woman in 1930 also could not support 7 children and the 3 girls ended up living in an orphanage for 1 year when she was 11.
As she grew into a young woman, she enjoyed playing dress up with her sisters and they would play with makeup, sexy clothing and doing each other’s hair. She learned to pose from magazines and models in newspapers and would practice posing with her sisters. “We would even go out into the front yard in her underwear and pose.”
At school, Bettie studied very hard with dreams of becoming valedictorian and winning the scholarship to
Vanderbilt University that came with it. Her average was 97.19% but she was beat out by just one guy, Barton Murphy with an average of 97.33%. Bettie was salutatorian instead and received only a $100 scholarship… which wasn’t enough for her to actually go on to University. Still, Bettie was voted “most likely to succeed” by her class.
Bettie got married to her high school sweetheart who was handsome and sporting. He also taught her everything this high school girl wanted to know about sex. But when the war came along he was drafted and insisted on marrying her. They drove 30 miles to a county office and married in 5 minutes. “And when I got on the bus to go back with him, I thought to myself, ‘What have I done?'” So Bettie Page was married at age 20 to Billy Neal who by all accounts was an abusive dickhead. They moved down to San Francisco together in 1944 when he was back on leave and he took some pictures of her that he sent to 20th Century Fox. She went down for a screen test. “But that test was awful. They tried to make me up like Joan Crawford.” While she was at the studio, the head of casting hit on her and when she refused to go on a date with him, he said, “You’ll be sorry.” Bettie did not get the part.
Bettie was surrounded by the chauvinistic attitudes of the times. Her landlord even punched her and beat her in the face before he was hit over the head with a rolling pin. The landlord was charged and Bettie testified against him — earn a photo in the paper with the title, “Tenant Bashes Landlord.”
When her husband Billy returned from overseas he had battle fatigue and was a ‘jealous maniac’ too. He
accused Bettie of sleeping with every sailor in San Francisco and he would beat her regularly. “I tried so hard to make it work but it was impossible.” He held knives to her throat and threaten to kill her. Bettie got fed up and left him. Note that at the time, leaving your husband was unheard of but Bettie Page was powerful woman and knew that the situation was unacceptable so she left the fucker. With in a year they were divorced.
Where’d she go? Haiti. Why? Because Bettie Page was an adventurous woman who fucking felt like it. That’s why. She wanted to travel and see the world before starting a new life for herself in New York City in 1947.
She got an apartment in New York for $46.29 a month. She loved the vibrant city with all it’s lights and ‘I went out dancing so much! And for 50 cents I could go to a double feature!”
Crappy Men Continue in Bettie’s Early Life
“One night, I was walking down Broadway and this fellow started talking to me. He was very polite and courteous and seemed like a really nice fellow. He asked me if I would like to go dancing. I said, ‘sure I’d love to go.’ So we got in a car.” Well, drove a block or two and he stopped and 2 guys got in the car. Then went another block and 3 more guys got in the car. “And right then, it hit me.” Bettie knew that she was in trouble. So there she was with 6 men in the car and she was terrified. She was forced to give every one of the guys oral sex. They beat her and ‘left me for dead’ behind a dumpster. But Bettie did not let this experience define her. She refused to let one night dampen her spirits and shape her world outlook. She bounced back quickly without being too traumatized by the horrific incident.
She also had and attacker come to her building and try to attack her with a knife. The assailant slashed her
roommate across the face with a knife before leaving and thankfully, he did not return.
Even in her love life, Bettie didn’t attract high quality men. She fell for a man named Carlos who took her out dancing all the time and was a wonderful dancer. They’d make passionate love at her apartment afterward. Bettie thought this might be the love of her life…till his wife showed up pounding at the door saying, “Open up Carlos I know you’re in there!” And that was that.