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Pin-up photographer Bunny Yeager dies at 85

MIAMI BEACH, Florida--Bunny Yeager, a model turned pin-up photographer who helped jump-start the career of then-unknown Bettie Page, died Sunday, her agent said. She was 85 years old.

Yeager died at a North Miami hospice where she had been for about a week, her agent, Ed Christin said.

Yeager's legacy is her cultural impact, from pin-up photography and fashion, helping to popularize the bikini, and influencing other artists such as Cindy Sherman, who read Yeager's guides on photographing nudes and making self-portraits, Christin said.

“Anyone in Miami in the 1950s who wanted a bikini would come to her, and she'd make one,” he said.

Yeager became famous for making everyday women, from stay-at-home mothers to airline attendants, feel comfortable enough to bare it all. Her photos of Page in a leopard-print bathing suit standing next to a real cheetah are still well-known today.

“They all wanted to model for me because they knew that I wouldn't take advantage of them,” Yeager told The Associated Press during a 2013 interview. “And I wouldn't push them to do nude if they didn't want to do nudes. It wasn't a day when nude photography was prevalent.”

Linnea Eleanor Yeager was born in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, on March 13, 1929, and in the 1940s became one of the most photographed models in Miami during her early career. She later turned the camera on herself, posing in bathing suits she handmade for her 5-foot-9 frame. Her self-portraits were turned into a book, “How I Photograph Myself,” in 1964.

She began taking photos of Page in 1954 as she began her career behind the camera.

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In this April 23, 2013 file photo, photographer Bunny Yeager poses next to a self-portrait taken in 1952 at the Bunny Yeager Studio in Miami.

(AP)

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