How’s this for a big birthday bash. Nashville native Bettie Page will receive a historical marker at the site of her alma mater, Hume-Fogg High School, on what’s been declared “Bettie Page Day” — Saturday, April 22.
Bettie by the books
The late 50s pinup model was born in Music City on April 22, 1923. Though her rise to fame as a pop culture icon suggests otherwise, Page’s upbringing was a little more grit than glamour. Her father struggled to find employment and her mother raised Bettie and her siblings after the couple’s separation.
Bettie graduated from downtown’s Hume-Fogg High School in 1940 as her class salutatorian and was voted “Most Likely to Succeed” by her peers. She then chose to further her education on a scholarship at George Peabody College for Teachers, which later merged into Vanderbilt University.
Teaching wasn’t in the cards and Bettie began traveling. It was at Coney Island in 1950 where she was discovered by amateur photographer Jerry Tibbs. He photographed her and suggested she cut her hair into straight across bangs. The rest is history — the newfound image of her jet-black hair coupled with her new bangs would be a staple many stars emulate for decades to come.
In her later life, Bettie strayed from the spotlight, tackling various struggles and focusing instead on her Christianity. She died in 2008 at the age of 85. The public is invited to Bettie’s marker dedication on Saturday at 3 p.m. near Hume-Fogg High School and 7th Avenue in downtown Nashville, where special guests will speak about the late local’s legacy. An after party at Eastside Bowl — 1508 Gallatin Pk. — will immediately follow at 5 p.m.