Anyone who is into the vintage pinup lifestyle or at least appreciates the art has probably heard of Bunny Yeager, the 1950s pinup photographer who helped make Bettie Page famous. Born Linnea Eleanor Yeager on March 13, 1929, she passed away last Sunday, May 25th, but was still shooting photos in her Miami studio and gallery right up to the end! This talented lady was and still remains an inspiration for all women who wish to enter a male dominated profession. Before Ms. Yeager turned from model to photographer, the only people shooting pin up photos were men! But Bunny changed all that, and here’s how~
An article from the Miami Herald, states that Bunny originally started out as a model herself, but always yearned to be behind the camera. So she began classes at a vocational school in 1953. The first class assignment was to go out and shoot anything they wanted and come back for a critique. So Ms Yeager picked Africa, USA , a cageless zoo in Boca Raton in which she shot her leopard bikini wearing pinup model friends amongst the wild cheetahs. Needless to say her assignment caused quite a stir and her instructor insisted she send the pictures off to magazines, tout sweet! And that marked the beginning of her illustrious career as one of America’s most famous pinup photographers. And the iconic photos of Bettie Page in the leopard print bikini that Bunny designed are some of the most famous pinup photos of all time!
More on Bunny’s Background~
- Yeager grew up a very shy girl in Braddock, Pennsylvania, but when her family moved to Miami, (at the age of 17) she jumped at the chance to re-invent herself.
- She re-named herself Bunny (from Lana Turner’s character in the 1945 film “Weekend at the Waldorf”) and enrolled herself in modeling school.
- In the 1940’s, she took to modeling with an eye to fame, doing both runway and photo shoots. Because she was very photogenic, beautiful, tall, and slender, Ms. Yeager was very sought after. Yeager would soon become one of the most photographed models in Miami.
- In her 20s, Ms Yeager wanted to add to her portfolio and stopped modeling and enrolled in photography classes at a Miami trade school and began her career behind the camera. She practiced a lot by taking self-portraits.
- As a woman photographer taking photos of other woman, mostly nudes and near-nudes, Yeager was able to bring a level of comfort and ease that male photographers could not achieve from their subjects. She gave women the confidence and encouragement to be natural and look beautiful without the goggling eyes of the male gaze.
- Bunny met the raven-haired Bettie Page in 1954 and formed a friendship. Bunny took most of the photographs of her that year. Along with photographer Irving Klaw, Yeager played a role in helping to make Page famous, particularly with her photos in Playboy magazine.
- Yeager remained a very celebrated photographer through the 50s and 60s. Her photographs were frequently taken at exotic locales and done with creative compositions. Many times, Bunny would make her own swimsuits for the models to wear and create her own props as well.
- She took the well-known still images of Ursula Andress on the beach in the 1962 James Bond film Dr. No, and discovered many other notable models.
- In early 2010, the Warhol Museum held the first exhibition of Yeager’s work. Most of the photographs in the exhibit came from Bunny’s book “How I Photograph Myself” published by A.S. Barnes & Co. in 1964. She would go on to write over 30 books .
- In November 2011, the Dezer Schauhalle[ in Miami, Florida hosted a retrospective exhibition of Yeager’s work. Included were some never before seen photos of various models including Bettie Page.
And I’ll leave you with some excellent advice from this talented and classy lady~
“What a boring place the world would be if every woman looked the same as the next. Make the most of what you have and enjoy being female. Enjoy being you!”
Have a glamorous day!