Bunny Yeager, 85, pinup photographer
BUNNY YEAGER had success as a model in Miami in the 1950s, but she wanted to be a photographer. She saw her chance when she met the little-known Bettie Page, who had modeled for risque under-the-counter photo sets.
Yeager took a somewhat more wholesome, holiday-themed photo of Page - nude except for a Santa hat - and in 1955 sent it off to fledgling magazine Playboy. "I figured because they were new they might pay attention to an amateur, and that's what happened," she told the London Telegraph in 2012.
The photo launched her career as one of the most successful pinup photographers, often with Page - who became an international sex symbol - as her model.
Yeager, 85, died Sunday in a nursing facility in North Miami. The cause was heart failure, said her agent, Ed Christin.
In recent years, along with a revival of interest in Page, who died in 2008, there was much renewed appreciation for Yeager's photography. Her work was the subject of several gallery and museum shows, such as the "Bunny Yeager: The Legendary Queen of the Pinup" exhibition at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh in 2010.
Yeager came to be admired for her use of natural light, sometimes enhanced by flash even in daylight, to make a model's skin look luminous. But unlike nude photographers whose depictions of women were hypersexual and pumped-up, Yeager found sensuality in a more natural look.
The statuesque, blond Yeager was also known for taking pictures of herself, using a timer. But with no full nudity in those.
She was born Linnea Eleanor Yeager on March 13, 1929, in Wilkinsburg, Pa. She gave herself her nickname after seeing the 1945 movie "Week-End at the Waldorf" in which Lana Turner played a character named Bunny Smith.
Yeager was married twice, and even became a Girl Scout leader. "Nude photographer and Girl Scout leader - that was Bunny," Christin said.
Yeager is survived by daughters Lisa Packard of North Miami and Cherilu Duval of Hamilton, Ohio. Yeager's first husband, Arthur Irwin, died in 1977. Her second husband, Harry Schaefer, died in 2000.