Bettie Page, the black-banged 50's pin-up is eulogized in an over-wrought LA Times obituary. At least they didn't wait a couple of days, filling the space with recently departed members of the local Communist party. Louis Sahagun tries to make her some sort of social activist by claiming that her photos contributed to the 60s sexual revolution. This is wrong on a number of counts, not the least of which is that anyone getting laid in the 60s would have sneered at Page's posing in heels, garter belt and whip. Robert McFadden, writing in the NY Times, is more poetic and less respectful.
Page's appeal stems from her sheer delight at being in front of the camera, no matter how louche the pose. She always looks relaxed and happy to be there.
Page's bondage work with Irving Klaw was sold on a subscription basis, with customer suggesting themes and poses. Her best work was with Bunny Yeager, who shot her for Playboy, and Page was Playmate of the month for the January 1955.
Re-discovered in the 80s, Page became the darling of girls who copied her hair, and boys who hoped to get lucky with those girls. The 2005 film, The Notorious Bettie Page is drab and mournful, but Gretchen Mol as Page captures some of her charm and spark.
UPDATE: Manohla Dargis comments in the NYT: "To look at these photographs is to enter another world."