The Beach
Sunday, April 22, 2018
 
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As the Salutatorian of her class, Bettie won a $100 scholarship to Peabody College!


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In 1953, Bettie auditioned for an apprenticeship at Sea Cliff Summer Theater in Long Island where she studied acting under the tutelage of Herbert Berghoff. With Berghoff’s encouragement, Bettie secured several roles in various New York productions as well as various television appearances. Her off-Broadway productions included Time is a Thief and Sunday Costs Five Pesos. Bettie even appeared in the Jackie Gleason show.
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As the Salutatorian of her class, Bettie won a $100 scholarship to Peabody College where she studied education while dreaming of becoming an actress. In February 1943, Bettie married her boyfriend of two years, Billy Neal. After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree from Peabody College, Bettie moved to San Francisco to be with Billy. It was in San Francisco that Bettie got her first modeling job at a local furrier where Bettie modeled fur coats for clients.



For the next few years, the free-spirited Bettie traveled from San Francisco to Nashville to Miami, even to Portau-Prince, Haiti, where she fell in love with the country and its culture. Back in the United States, in November 1947, Bettie filed for divorce from Billy and moved to New York. In 1950, during a walk along the Coney Island shore, Bettie met Jerry Tibbs, a police officer with an interest in photography. Tibbs took pictures of Bettie and put together her first pinup portfolio. Little did Bettie know how much her life was about to change.



Tibbs introduced Bettie to numerous other photographers including Cass Carr who organized outdoor photographic sessions, which Bettie intensely enjoyed. In a matter of months, Bettie’s modeling career had taken off. Camera clubs led to posing for various magazines such as Wink, Eyeful, Titter, and Beauty Parade. But it wasn’t until her photographs were published in Robert Harrison’s magazines that Bettie became a pinup star beyond comparison. In 1955, Bettie won the title "Miss Pinup Girl of the World." In January 1955, she was the centerfold in Playboy’s January issue. She was even named the "Girl with the Perfect Figure," with her photographs appearing in everything from record albums to playing cards.
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