While some people mark April 22nd down as Earth Day on their calendars, I always thought the attention paid to a holiday whose founding father was a murderous hippie and encourages stifling economic growth in favor of some touchey-feeley platitudes about Mother Earth would be better spent on some sort of observance of National Pin-Up Day.
National Pin-Up Day would be a bit like President's Day in that the holiday doesn't honor just one person. Much like President's Day is meant to coincide with Abraham Lincoln and George Washington's respective birthdays, April 22nd would be an ideal date for National Pin-Up Day since it falls on the late Bettie Page's birthday and is also within a few days of blonde bombshell Jayne Mansfield's date of birth [Just think of all the crazy blowout prices auto dealers could have in honor of Pin-Up Day weekend- NANESB!].
Astute readers of this blog will notice that this statuesque camera-wielding blonde is not quite as busty as Jayne Mansfield, yet too fair-headed to be the infamous Bettie Page. The tall, leggy blonde is actually none other than model-turned-photographer Bunny Yeager. Born Linnea Elanor Yeager in the Pittsburgh area in 1930, Yeager moved to Miami and became a sought-after model in the early 1950s.
Thinking ahead to a career after modeling, Yeager began taking photography courses. On her first attempt, some pictures Yeager shot of model friend Maria Stinger were accepted by a men's magazine.
As it turned out, Stinger was just the beginning. In 1954, Yeager first met Bettie Page- who was already known as one of the less inhibited models for Irving Klaw's New York-based Movie Star News- and the two would collaborate on what would become some iconic photo shoots despite Yeager being financially strapped and barely able to afford Page's services as a model at the time.
The sensual Tennessee brunette was photographed by Yeager posing with live [but most likely sedated- NANESB!] cheetahs in a leopard-print bikini at a Boca Raton, FL safari park. Another shoot took place at Miami's Funland amusement park with a bikini-clad Page posing in bumper cars, on the merry go round or in front of concession stands. The Funland and Safari park photos shot by Yeager show a rapport between photographer and model that is hard to duplicate. Yeager must've knew she had something special going in her work with Bettie Page since she also had the foresight to take a number of behind-the-scenes pictures of her and Page at the safari park.
Page wasn't the only famous client that Yeager worked with Swiss model and actress Ursula Andress- the original Bond Girl- for promotional photography and artwork for 1962's Dr. No, the first big screen adaptation of Ian Fleming's James Bond. Andress later remarked that she owed her career to the white bikini she wore in the movie and modeled for Yeager.
At age 84, Yeager is still alive and well and living in Miami. As recently as a year ago, Yeager expressed a passing interest in photographing child-actress-turned-train-wreck Lindsay Lohan [if anyone could pull that off, I bet it would be Yeager- NANESB!]. In 2011, the Schuster galleries of Miami and Berlin became the official representative for Yeager's photographic works and has hosted a number of exhibits featureing her work with Bettie Page and others.