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Design By Humans
Published On: Thu, Jun 5th, 2014

THE SEX FILES: A tribute to the late Bunny Yeager

Bunny Yeager

Bunny Yeager R.I.P

The fashion business, photography and world culture in general lost a great talent. Model-turned-photographer Bunny Yeager died in North Miami at the age of 85 last week. Best known for those early 50’s photos of Bettie Page (the leopard-skin bikini ones, to name just one famous look), Yeager began her career in all things ‘cheesecake’ (as they were calling pics of women in bikini-and less-back then) as a sexy model herself. See this video of the tall beauty from What’s My Line in 1957 and you will certainly recognize the woman’s physical charms.

Her work behind the camera was just as stunning.

It all began in 1953 for the photographer in Bunny as she began shooting women in either bikinis (which Bunny often made herself), lingerie or nude. The Pennsylvania native worked hand-in-hand with another infamous 50’s cheesecake photography figure of the era, Irving Klaw (Klaw worked out of NYC and was eventually brought up on pornography charges) defining ‘pin-up,’ revealing to the world who Bettie Page was (as she said of Page…“It was like us doing a dance together. I would snap my fingers, and she would do exactly what I told her to do”) and contributing nudes that Playboy and some of its lesser competitors were just getting into. Bunny Yeager even shot stills of Ursula Andress in her iconic white bikini and sheathed knife on the beach set of the 1962 Bond flick Dr. No.

Stressing the importance of good lighting and a love of Kodak 35mm, Yeager was one of the very earliest of ‘glamour’ photographers to use outdoor settings, favoring natural light. As her Bettie Page photos certainly show, Yeager liked action in her model’s poses and direct looks at her camera lens. Creating as much playful images as lustful, Yeager’s work even now is certainly distinctive and effective. With her innate ability to make the common lady, as much as the pin-up model, feel comfortable enough to take their clothes off, in Bunny Yeager’s case, a woman shooting female nudes and semi-nudes made the subjects all that more comfortable and the pictures all that more iconic.

Yeager published over 25 books in her career. Such titles as Bunny Yeager’s Beautiful Backsides and Bunny Yeager’s Flirts of the Fifties got a second lease on life when her photography was shown at a major retrospective of her work in 2010 at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, kicking her name back into mainstream popularity. She was portrayed by actress Sarah Paulson in the ’fictional’ biopic The Notorious Bettie Page. (see my coverage of that film in these two separate sex files here and here.

A grand champion of the art of the nude in female form and a trailblazer photographer, R.I.P Bunny Yeager.

Step into Bunny’s world here.

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THE SEX FILES: A tribute to the late Bunny Yeager