Saturday, December 13, 2008

R.I.P. Bettie Page

Here's part of her obituary from the L.A. Times:
Bettie Page, the brunet pinup queen with a shoulder-length pageboy hairdo and kitschy bangs whose saucy photos helped usher in the sexual revolution of the 1960s, has died. She was 85.

Page, whose later life was marked by depression, violent mood swings and several years in a state mental institution, died Thursday night at Kindred Hospital in Los Angeles, where she had been on life support since suffering a heart attack Dec. 2, according to her agent, Mark Roesler.

A cult figure, Page was most famous for the estimated 20,000 4-by-5-inch black-and-white glossy photographs taken by amateur shutterbugs from 1949 to 1957. The photos showed her in high heels and bikinis or negligees, bondage apparel -- or nothing at all.

Decades later, those images inspired biographies, comic books, fan clubs, websites, commercial products -- Bettie Page playing cards, dress-up magnet sets, action figures, Zippo lighters, shot glasses -- and, in 2005, a film about her life and times, "The Notorious Bettie Page."

According to her agents at CMG Worldwide, Page's official website,, has received about 600 million hits over the last five years.

A religious woman in her later life, Page was mystified by her influence on modern popular culture. "I have no idea why I'm the only model who has had so much fame so long after quitting work," she said in an interview with The Times in 2006.

She had one request for that interview: that her face not be photographed.

"I want to be remembered," she said, "as I was when I was young and in my golden times. . . . I want to be remembered as the woman who changed people's perspectives concerning nudity in its natural form."

Saturday, December 06, 2008

RIP, Forrest J Ackerman

Forrest J Ackerman died on Thursday at age 92. Any kid who grew up in the 60's and loved monster movies would save their allowance to pick up the latest copy of Famous Monsters of Filmland, and I was no exception. Reading that magazine and drawing crude pictures from the photos therein propelled me deeper into exploring monster movies I had never seen, and inspired me to expand my interest into moviemaking in general.
Marveling at the pictures of Ackerman's astonishing collection of movie memorabilia also made clear the craft of moviemaking, from the close up photos of the stop-motion armatures from King Kong to the wonderfully lurid and endearingly cheesy posters from 50's sci-fi movies. His mansion and collection was a treasure trove of inspiration and imagination, and it satisfied (vicariously) my own urge to collect.
He was a pop culture historian, and by virtue of that became a pop culture icon in his own right.
Here's the obit from BoingBoing:
Forrest J Ackerman, the pioneering science fiction fan, editor and writer who coined the term "sci-fi," founded Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, 4e left the party on December 4, at 92, after a long illness. of heart failure at home at the legendary Ackermansion in Los Feliz in Los Angeles.
Among those who grew up reading Famous Monsters of Filmland was author Stephen King. Other childhood readers included movie directors Joe Dante, John Landis and Steven Spielberg, who once autographed a poster of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" for Ackerman, saying, "A generation of fantasy lovers thank you for raising us so well.

Ackerman was a celebrity in his own right, once signing 10,000 autographs during a three-day monster-movie convention in New York City.
This, after all, was the man who created and wrote the comic book characters Vampirella and Jeanie of Questar and was the ultimate fan's fan: a man who actually had known Lugosi and Karloff and whose priceless collection of science-fiction, horror and fantasy artifacts ran to some 300,000 items.