Bunny Yeager, Bettie Page’s Pinup Photographer, Dies At 85

Bunny Yeager, a model who became a photographer, died on Sunday in Miami, The New York Times reports. She was 85 years old.

According to her agent, Ed Christin, Bunny died of congestive heart failure.

Yeager was a well-known model in Miami, but later found out that she had a knack for photography. Bunny then started taking self-portraits in bathing suits that she made for herself. These photographs can be seen in a book called How I Photograph Myself.

In 1954, Yeager met Bettie Page, and started taking pinup photographs of her the same year. Her pinup photographs were not merely erotic images, but high photographic works of art.

Bunny Yeager was the one who photographed Page for a holiday-themed photo wherein the model only wore a Santa hat. She sent the photo to Playboy.“I figured because they were new they might pay attention to an amateur, and that’s what happened,” Yeager said.

That photo of Page skyrocketed her career as one of the most celebrated pinup photographers during her time. It also launched Page’s career as the “Queen of Pinups.”

Throughout her career, Yeager took pinup photos of several models, but Page remained her muse. “It was like us doing a dance together,” Bunny recalled. “I would snap my fingers and she would do exactly what I told her to do.”

A number of her works appeared in Playboy and postwar men’s magazines, such as Figure Quarterly, Sunbathing, Nugget, Escapade, and Cavalier.

According to People, Yeager also photographed everyday women, such as flight attendants and housewives, since they felt comfortable to bare it all in her presence. “They all wanted to model for me because they knew that I wouldn’t take advantage of them,” Bunny explained. She wasn’t the kind of photographer to push her subjects to be nude if they weren’t comfortable doing it.

Harold Golden, owner of a gallery in Miami, admired Yeager’s photographs and said that Bunny knew how to photograph the female body. “Her women are real. None of them are spray-tanned. Their breasts aren’t ballooned. They have curves and a bit of cellulite,” he said.

Bunny’s works have been rediscovered over the past few years. In 2010, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh held an exhibit that highlighted Yeager’s career as a photographer. Other exhibitions soon followed. During the course of her career, she has photographed plenty of women, but it was her photographs of Bettie Page that made her known to many. More than 200 of Bunny’s photographs of Page will appear in a book Bettie Page: Queen of Curves, which is slated for release in October.

Bunny Yeager is survived by her daughters Cherilu Duval and Lisa Pickard.

[Image via MOAFL]