Friday, December 12, 2008

News - 12/12/08...

Crackatron Will Be Your Next Addiction

What do get when you cross a crack addict, a coke addict, a meth addict and a chocoholic? Why a mecha-fiend, or course. Kevin Lofton has just released the first episode of Crackatron over at, and without the use of a single barbituate, he handled animation direction, character design and layouts. His “crack” team of artists included Joe Cappabianca on animation, Edmond Hawkins III on compositing and Liz Artinian on backgrounds. Lofton is already rolling the next one, so puff on this one fast!

Toot & Puddle are Preschool Pig Pals

Last month, the preschool channel Noggin began airing Toot & Puddle. The half-hour series, which is based on the illustrated book series by Holly Hobbie, is being directed by Christian Larocque at Mercury Filmworks. The show about two pig pals is also airing on Treehouse TV in Canada. The team is using Toon Boom Harmony to bring the show to life.

Golden Globe nominations announced: WALL-E, Bolt and Kung Fu Panda up for Best Animated Feature

Hollywood Foreign Press Association has announced the nominations for the 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards today. WALL-E, Bolt and Kung Fu Panda have been nominated in the Best Animated Feature category. The Israeli war documentary Waltz with Bashir has received a nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category. WALL-E and Kung Fu Panda, both have also earned nominations for Best Original song from a Motion picture. Full list of the nominees can be found here. The Golden Globes will be presented on January 11, 2009 at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.

So ... How Many Work Where?

Down below -- while talking about the cratering economy -- I mentioned that TAG reps 2,536 employed artists, writers, and technicians. Give or take.

So where do most of these people work? ...

Here's some of the breakdown, which encompasses both staff and freelance employees. But keep in mind that these numbers are weeks old, and employers aren't always timely supplying hiring and layoff data. Employment data, as the Federal Government will no doubt tell you, is a continuously moving target ...

Sony Adelaide -- 22
Cartoon Network -- 134
Disney Animation Studios (Feature) -- 427
Disney TVA -- 172
DreamWorks Animation -- 615
Film Roman (Starz Media) -- 321
Fox Animation -- 157
IM Digital -- 179
Imagi Studios -- 66
Rough Draft -- 33
Sabella-Derm -- 34
Sony Pictures Animation -- 40
Universal Cartoon Studios -- 47
Warners TV Animation -- 79

These numbers will be different in a month. (They're different now. For example, this very week, one large studio abruptly cut thirty staffers loose. Yeowch.)

The only constant in the employment universe is change. And not always for the better.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Pumping Up the Grosses

So, if you're the Disney Co., and you're ... ah .... a little disheartened about ticket sales to your latest animated feature, what do you do? Here's an idea:

[N]eed a reason to go see Bolt? How about this: starting Friday, 3D Bolt showings will be preceded by a 3D animated short called Tokyo Mater, based on Pixar's 2006 hit Cars. This may not sound like much if you were already hesitant about watching a talking dog movie, but for some, this is very intriguing; it's the latest step towards revitalizing my favorite mutation of cinema: the animated short.

Directed by Pixar founder and Chief Creative Officer of Disney animation John Lasseter,
Tokyo Mater is the fourth in a series of Cars shorts (the previous three premiered on Toon Disney late October) ...

We can dust off an overused term from the 1990s and call this Synergy!

Me, I'll call it smart, cross-studio utilization. And a fine way to add a little heft to weekend grosses as we move closer to the all-important holiday season.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

New Information, Early Cover Art For Upcoming "The Zeta Project" DVD Release

Warner Home Video has released a trade ad featuring new information for the upcoming The Zeta Project: The Complete First Season DVD release.

Click on the thumbnail below for a closer look at the The Zeta Project: The Complete First Season DVD release trade ad.

Please note the ad states the release will contain twelve episodes, not the eleven originally stated by Warner Home Video. The World's Finest is awaiting further confirmation on the actual number of episodes included on the The Zeta Project: The Complete First Season release and what the 12th episode could be. Speculation places the 12th episode as "Ro's Reunion," an episode which never aired on Kids'WB!.

Warner Home Video has set a $26.99 MSRP for the March 17th, 2009 DVD release of The Zeta Project: The Complete First Season.

'Delgo' Directors Interviewed

Atlanta's Creative Loafing Magazine has an interview with Delgo co-directors Marc J. Adler and Jason Maurer.

After nearly a decade in development as an independent film, Delgo finally makes its theatrical debut on December 12, 2008.

In the article, the co-directors say they are hopeful for Delgo sequels. "We hope that might have legs for our next feature," says Adler. "We have a story for Delgo 2 as well as a third feature. It all depends on how the weekend goes. Delgo 2 would be the easiest because of all the building we did for the first film."

Newsarama's Animated Shorts has also posted the first part of an interview with Adler about creating the movie, casting it, and working with Anne Bancroft on her voice track.

"Spectacular Spider-Man" Moves from KidsWB to Disney XD in March 2009

The Marvel Animation Age is reporting that The Spectacular Spider-Man will be moving from the KidsWB block on the CW network to Disney's new Disney XD network, with the second season expected to premiere in March 2009. It is also expected that the first season will be run on Disney XD as well.

MAA also revealed that new episodes of The Spectacular Spider-Man will begin airing on Canada's Teletoon network starting in early 2009.

Poor old St. Nick pawns silverware in commercial

A new TV commercial features an animated Santa Claus selling his unwanted gold and silver items to pay for this year's Christmas holiday.

Titled "Broke Santa," the spot tackles the season's economic blues with an irreverent sense of humor.

The commercial begins with the debt-laden Santa and Mrs. Claus watching as their sleigh is repossessed by their bank. The Clauses then gather up their jewelry, old coins and even the North Pole's silverware for a trip to the Cleveland suburb of Parma, Ohio in an improvised sleigh fashioned from an old beat-up car.

"Putting presents under the tree is a real challenge for many Americans this year,"
said Jim Mataich, president of Coin and Jewelry Buyers of America. "People are losing their jobs and struggling to make their house payments.

"For many folks, their unwanted gold and silver will be their lifeline this Christmas. And unlike many precious metal buyers, we pay in cash so overdrawn consumers don't need to wait days for a check to clear."

The spot was created by Nate Craddock and Don Pavlish of PavlishGroup, a Northeast Ohio multimedia marketing agency. "Many middle-class Americans aren't used to tough times like these," explained Pavlish. "They don't realize that they could turn that old silver tea set or bag of broken jewelry into instant cash."

Further, Pavlish said, some people feel embarrassed about selling personal possessions to stay solvent this holiday season.

"That's why our commercial shows Santa and Mrs. Claus struggling with the same problems affecting tens of millions of Americans. In a humorous way, we're making the point that everyone's in the same boat -- whether you live in Cleveland or at the North Pole. There's nothing wrong with needing a little extra money right now, and there's no shame in selling your old silver and gold to get it."

Shot in the style of 1960s stop-action animation, "Broke Santa"
is designed to evoke viewers' memories of the golden age of holiday television. "We spent over 175 hours creating this spot," said Craddock. "We combined computer animation with hand-drawn images and miniature models to make the visuals feel as authentically vintage as possible."

The spot, which recently began airing in Cleveland, has led to a noticeable increase in traffic to Coin and Jewelry Buyers' two locations. "We've had a lot of new people come in because of the commercial," said Mataich. "Many of them tell us the ad made them laugh, and at the end of the day, hopefully that helped make a tough situation just a little bit easier for them."

To view the commercial, visit

The true spirit of Christmas, 2008-style: Santa Claus comes on TV to show how to make a quick buck.

New Heroes Updates!

Entertainment Weekly is reporting that NBC has cast John Glover (Lex Luthor's dad on "Smallville") to play Sylar's father in "Heroes."

"When Sylar meets his father, he's going to see a path ahead of him that he doesn't want to take," says a source. "He has a lot more in common with his father than he realized."

The Tony award winner will turn up towards the end of "Heroes'" forthcoming "Fugitives" chapter.

Meanwhile, Entertainment Weekly also got to talk to Bryan Fuller ("Pushing Daisies"), who's rejoining the show as a consultant. Here's a bit on "Fugitives," which kicks-off on February 2:

It really is a fresh start. All of the characters are back in their real lives. You see Peter as a paramedic. Claire is looking for colleges. We get away from the world of formulas and quasi-magic.

Yes. Episodes 14, 15 and 16 are amazing. The whole "Fugitives" arc starts out very strongly, and then it gets a little dense in the middle in terms of the mythology. So I came in right at the point where everybody was realizing, "Oh, we're getting too dense here and we need to put faces on stories because there is no face to a formula; there is no face to saving the world." So it's turning this big ship back into a character stream, and everyone on the writing staff shares that desire. We need to get back into a character place, because that's where this story started: Very clean, superhero metaphors to everyday life. That's the path that we're taking. But it is a big ship so it's going to take a little while to turn it.

You can read the full interview here!

Aronofsky Aims For Hardcore RoboCop

Darren Aronofsky, who is attached to direct a remake of RoboCop, told a group of reporters that he has long been drawn to cyborg stories and is aiming for a hardcore interpretation of the movie.

Aronofsky's own medical procedure sparked his interest in cyborgs.

"Before you get an MRI, they give you a list of like 38 different things, how you can have metal in your body," Aronofosky said in a group interview on Dec. 10 in Beverly Hills, Calif., where he was promoting The Wrestler. "From a shutter in your eyelid to a pacemaker, screws and all this stuff you can have in your system. I realized, 'Wow, we are cyborgs.' I mean, everything's not inside us, but the way we're connected to the technology and everything is right there."

The original Paul Verhoeven R-rated film was notoriously violent. Its sequels toned down the carnage to earn a PG-13 rating and a TV series was even more watered down. But Aronofsky said that he plans to return to the hardcore tone.

"If we do it, it [can] definitely be rated R," Aronofsky said. "I mean, [it won't] necessarily, but we have that freedom."

At this stage, Aronofsky is just developing the screenplay with writer David Self. "We have a long way to go," he said. "So until there's a screenplay, there's nothing to really talk about. Until we're going, it just doesn't exist for me. It's just like we're trying to get something good, and we'll see what happens."

Meanwhile, Aronofsky said that he has completed a new cut of his philosophical SF art film The Fountain, which he hopes Warner Brothers will allow him to release. He dubs it a "redux" rather than a recut.

"It's something more for fans," Aronofsky said. "I worked on the film for six years, and it went through a lot of versions. There was one version that was much closer to one of the scripts that we had, and we chose between which way we would go with it. They both are interesting, so I always was curious for myself to see what that alternative version would be."

The theatrical cut of the film divided audiences, provoking hostile reactions at film festivals. Of the new cut, Aronofsky said, "It's very similar but looking at a few things in a few different ways, and it answers a few questions for people and raises some new questions in other ways, so it's kind of cool."

MGM hopes to have RoboCop in theaters in 2010. In the meantime, Aronofsky hopes The Fountain's fans will encourage Warner to release his alternate cut.

The Top 15 Worst Superhero Films of All-Time

There’s no denying the popularity of the Superhero film these days. Taking a look at the U.S. Box-office totals, there are six superhero/comic book films that rank among the top 21 all-time grossing films. It’s no surprise that dozens more are in the planning stages. However for every good superhero film there is at least two that are, well, not so good. When a superhero film goes wrong it’s like a train derailing into a busy intersection. Mania/Comics2Film decided to take a loot at what they think are the Top 15 worst superhero films. To do so, they've set a few ground rules:

First, the film had to be released theatrically or direct-to-video. theyI did not want to include made-for-TV films as they are not on the same playing field and frankly the list would be littered with them.

Second, don’t take the term “superhero” too literally. Obviously characters like Batman and the Punisher do not have any superpowers but they’ll be included under the general distinction as being a comic-based hero.

Finally, I wanted to step a bit out of the box with my selections and examine films that perhaps fly a bit under the radar. Thus I decided to limit selections to one per franchise, i.e. one Superman film, one Batman film, etc. So read and let us know what films you think should have been included or rated higher or lower.

#15 - The Phantom (1996)
The Phantom, created by Lee Falk, is one of the longest running newspaper strips in history. The strip premiered in 1936 and is still running today. However this big-budget adaptation died a quick death. With a budget of $42 million dollars, the film grossed just over $17 million. While it was fairly faithful to Falk’s ideas, it had an inane plot about a wealthy madman looking for some magical skulls (long before Indiana Jones did) that would allow him to take over the world. Billy Zane starred as the Phantom and while a decent actor, Zane was lacking in charisma.

#14 - Barb Wire (1996)
The movie that made Pam Anderson a superstar! Not quite…actually that movie would come a few years later when she did the sex tape with Tommy Lee. Based on the Dark Horse comic book, Anderson plays the title character who owns a nightclub, dances topless, and who just happens to be a bounty hunter and mercenary on the side. It is so horrifically bad one might think Dark Horse would burn every existing copy of the comic series to distance their selves from the travesty. Only watchable for diehard Anderson fans.

#13 - Steel (1997)
Following the Death of Superman storyline in DC comics where Superman is killed fighting Doomsday, four new superheroes arose to replace Superman…and the worst one of those was actually turned into a film…Steel! Played by Basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, Steel was John Henry Irons, a weapons designer for the military. No..seriously! When his weapons are used by criminals, he builds a suit of armor with a big hammer to fight crime. With a very modest budget of $16 million, the film did not even make over $2 million at the boxoffice. With a failed career as a rap star and actor, it’s no wonder that O’Neal has not retired from basketball yet.

#12 - Blade Trinity 2004)
Blade Trinity breaks one of those Cardinal rules of superhero films by taking the stance that more is better. Blade’s battled vamps, and uber-vamps, and now he’s battling the legendary Dracula…although he’s never called Dracula. Those fans hoping for a Gene Colan-inspired Lord of the Vampires might have been more than a little disappointed with Dominic Purcell’s portrayal of something that really doesn’t look like a vampire. On top of that were the awful inclusions of Jessica Biel (hotness not withstanding) as Abigail Whistler and Ryan Reynolds as Hannibal King forming the “trinity” of the film’s title. Oh, and let’s not forget wrestler Triple H as a gold-fanged lackey of Dracula. Domestically, the film grossed only $50…and cost $65 million to produce!

#11 - The Punisher (1989)
Now I know a lot of you are probably saying the 2004 Punisher movie should be here but sorry, while bad, it’s nowhere near as bad as the original. The mere credit of “Starring Dolph Lundgren” should be enough to send you running in the other direction. The Punisher was exhibit A as to why Marvel Comics had such a terrible time with getting good films made in the 1980s. They let the studios dictate too much to the point of the characters becoming unrecognizable. I recall Stan Lee talking about this film and saying that while they couldn’t get the Punisher’s trademark skull shirt in the film, they did get him to use knives with skulls on them. Whoopee! There’s some decent action here but Lundgren’s monotone acting makes guys like Steven Seagal and Chuck Norris seem like Shakespearian actors. And as far as which Punisher film truly is the worst, I’m thinking that Punisher: War Zone will give both of them a run for their money!

#10 - Batman (1966)
The original Batman film falls squarely into the “so bad it’s good” category. In an effort to take advantage of the enormously popular TV show, 20th Century Fox releases this “big budget” theatrical film. The budget turned out to be less than $2 million dollars and is shows, particularly in the famous rubber shark sequence where Batman has to use his trust “Bat Shark Repellent” spray. The Dynamic Duo squared off against the four greatest villains: Joker, Penguin, Riddler, and Cat-Woman who turned the members of the United World Security council to powder by dehydrating them. Sure, it had all the campiness of the TV show and more, but weren’t fans expecting and deserving of more in a theatrical release?

#9 - Popeye (1980)
Put down the rocks. Popeye might be considered a borderline inclusion but the fact is the Popeye may really be the first superhero. He pre-dates Superman by a decade and his eating spinach to gain strength is not really any different than Billy Batson yelling “Shazam!” or Hourman popping a Miraclo pill. Not only was this 1980 film (Robin Williams played Popeye) boring beyond belief, but Popeye’s trademark spinach ingestion didn’t even happen until the final moments of the nearly two hour film. The producers of this mess should be made to watch it and eat spinach until they puke!

#8 - The Shadow (1994)
The Shadow is the greatest pulp hero ever. He also was a star on radio, comics, movie serials. He is the character that inspired Bob Kane to create Batman. Finally fans get a big time film about the Shadow and it turns out to be a dud. Ultimately the film did make back its $40 budget, but just barely. The film was visually outstanding and captured the look of 1930s New York but it was all a bit too bold and colorful. The Shadow’s world was dark and gritty. Criminals were terrified of him and with good reason as he was all too willing to blow them away with his trusty .45s. The film portrayed none of that crime noir feel. On top of that we had a ludicrous plot about the Shadow (Alec Baldwin) battling a descendent of Genghis Khan. This SHOULD have been a great film. Alec Baldwin once said that if George Bush won re-election that he would leave the country. I think Shadow fans everywhere would only be too happy to buy him a one way ticket to the country of his choosing.

#7 - Supergirl (1984)
So just how bad is Supergirl? Christopher Reeve was to have made a cameo reprising his role as Superman, but Reeve thought the script was so bad he declined. So let me get this straight…the guy who thought the scripts WERE good enough for Superman III and Superman IV declined to do THIS movie! Helen Slater did her best as Supergirl and looked the part in a 60s/70s fashion so to speak, but her nemesis was a Witch (Faye Dunaway), the special effects were terrible, and the theatrical release suffered numerous edits that were fairly important to making sense of the plot.

#6- Judge Dredd (1995)
There are many things that amaze me about the Judge Dredd movie. First is that it had a budget of $85 million dollars. Secondly was the fact that as an action filmed aimed at a base pre-teen and teen audience, the filmmakers could NOT get the film down to a PG-13 rating, leaving it with an “R” which doomed any chance it might have had for box-office success. And seriously, who thought the pairing of Sylvester Stallone and Rob Schneider would garner anything but derision from moviegoers? Fans of Dredd know that he never takes off his helmet and shows his face in the comics, and yet here’s Stallone, with the helmet more off than on throughout the film.

#5 - Daredevil (2003)
Ben Affleck said of his role as Daredevil, “Wearing a costume was a source of humiliation for me and something I wouldn't want to do again soon.” Well thank GOD for that! Give the guy credit for knowing how much he sucked! In terms of straight dollars, Daredevil WAS a successful film. Had the film followed a dark and gritty plot (based on Frank Miller’s stories) Daredevil could have had the kind of critical success that Batman Begins and The Dark Knight enjoyed, if not the financial success. Daredevil has long been one of Marvel’s most tragic and flawed heroes and it would have made for a brilliant movie…if not for, well, just about everything from Affleck’s cringe-inducing performance, to a bald Bullseye. If there is one positive about the film it is that the Director’s Cut DVD does improve the overall experience with a darker, grittier tone but it still cannot totally escape Affleck’s clumsy shadow.

#4 - Captain America (1990)
One of the producers of Captain America is Menahem Golan. If you’re not familiar him, he produced some of the cheesiet action films of the 1980s including: Hercules, Revenge of the Ninja, Invasion USA, Death Wish 3, Cobra, Over the Top, and Superman IV. The fact that he produced this piece of junk is hardly surprising. Planned for a major theatrical release to coincide with Captain America’s 50th anniversary in 1990, the film experienced numerous delays and went straight to video in 1992. Teamed with awful made-for-TV films in the 1970s, and the 1940s film serial regarded as one of the worst ever, no superhero has been treated as poorly onscreen as ol’ Cap. Matt Salinger (son of writer J.D. Salinger) played the title role and even though he’s generally pretty bad, you can’t fault him for this mess that included an ITALIAN Red Skull, instead of a German one. We can only hope that the new Captain America film, tentatively scheduled for 2011, will finally treat cap with the reverence he deserves. You can watch the trailer below or see more clips of the film here.

#3 - Catwoman (2004)
Isn’t it great when an actor admits that a movie is a piece of crap…AFTER they do the movie? Star Halle Berry was very vocal about the film, blaming just about everyone connected while whining about the affect it would have on her career. Halle, if it looks like crap and smells like crap, it’s probably crap. You can almost hear studio executives thinking out loud…”Hey, Halle Berry’s hot, she just won an Academy Award, let’s put her in a skimpy costume and call her Catwoman!” Anyone expecting the Batman villainess, Selina Kyle, instead got some hokum about a murdered woman named Patience Phillips being brought back to life by an Egyptian cat Goddess and given feline superpowers in which to battle an evil cosmetics company. And you want to know what’s really funny? Several writers argued over who would get the credits in the film. They should have sued to get their names off the thing!

#2 - Batman & Robin (1997)
Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat. I don’t care that the Batsuit that George Clooney wore had nipples. It’s the most-often criticized aspect of the film and also the dumbest. If the film had been good no one would have cared that the Batsuit had nipples. Besides, how often in superhero films does the costume match what we see in the comics? No, this movie is number two on the list because it stinks on ice. Director Joel Schumacher is the master of film excess. He figured if he used two heroes and two villains in
Batman Forever, he’d up the ante with three heroes (adding Batgirl) and three villains: Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and Bane. Clooney at least takes responsibility of being the guy who killed the franchise but his role was minor compared to Schumacher who still thinks he made a good movie. Let’s not leave the studio, Warner Brothers, free from blame either. They thought so much of the film (at least before it was released) that they were ready to give Schumacher a third Batman film entitled Batman Triumphant. If there was one good thing to come out of Batman and Robin it is that Warner Bros. took a step back and realized that fans didn’t want the campiness of the 1960s. As a result, the franchise was rebooted with the darker Batman Begins

And The #1 Worst Superhero Movie of All Time...

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
Let me give you one figure that explains why this film was so bad. The first Superman film in 1978, was made with a budget of $55 million dollars. Superman IV, made nine years later, had a budget of $17 million, or roughly one-third. And when you consider adjusting for inflation is there any wonder how horrible the film was? Reeve only did the film because he was given creative control of the script resulting in the film’s heavy-handed anti-nuke peace message. Okay, so we know why Reeve did the film but what explains a respected actor like Gene Hackman returning? Did he need the paycheck that badly? One wouldn’t think so as this film was sandwiched between two of his better films, Hoosiers and No Way Out. Anyway the plot involves Lex Luthor stealing a lock of Superman’s hair and using it to create a clone dubbed “Nuclear Man” who looked like a model off one of those cheap romance novels. The film ends with Superman giving an eye-rolling speech about world peace. Bottom line is that this film killed the Superman
franchise for nearly twenty years and that’s why it’s number one on the list.

Honorable mentions

I started out with a list of some 35 or 40 films and whittled it down from there and it wasn’t easy. And I would not argue that any of these could be included in the Top 15.

Batman Forever
Return of Swamp Thing (Truly bad but I couldn’t make a strong enough case to call it a superhero film)
Meteor Man (This film almost made my list but I left if off since it is mainly a spoof)
Ghost Rider
Dick Tracy

And finally, I have to mention one film that was excluded that perhaps deserves the number one spot and that’s the 1994
Fantastic Four
film that was never released theatrically or on video although it’s been heavily bootlegged. Intending it to be a $40 big budget film, the producer, Neu Constantin was about to lose his rights to the film and had to produce something. He hired director Roger Corman to make the film but not for $40 million. Corman had less than $2 million. Both he and the cast were unaware that the producers never intended it to be released. If you’ve never seen it, the film makes Superman IV
look like an Oscar winner.

1950s pinup model Bettie Page dies in LA at 85

Bettie Page, the 1950s secretary-turned-model whose controverisal photographs in skimpy attire or none at all helped set the stage for the 1960s sexual revolution, died Thursday. She was 85.

Page suffered a heart attack last week in Los Angeles and never regained consciousness, her agent Mark Roesler said. Before the heart attack, Page had been hospitalized for three weeks with pneumonia.

"She captured the imagination of a generation of men and women with her free spirit and unabashed sensuality," Roesler said. "She is the embodiment of beauty."

Page, who was also known as Betty, attracted national attention with magazine photographs of her sensuous figure in bikinis and see-through lingerie that were quickly tacked up on walls in military barracks, garages and elsewhere, where they remained for years.

Her photos included a centerfold in the January 1955 issue of then-fledgling Playboy magazine, as well as controversial sadomasochistic poses.

The latter helped contribute to her mysterious disappearance from the public eye, which lasted decades and included years during which she battled mental illness and became a born-again Christian.

After resurfacing in the 1990s, she occasionally granted interviews but refused to allow her picture to be taken.

"I don't want to be photographed in my old age," she told an interviewer in 1998. "I feel the same way with old movie stars. ... It makes me sad. We want to remember them when they were young."

The 21st century indeed had people remembering her just as she was. She became the subject of songs, biographies, Web sites, comic books, movies and documentaries. A new generation of fans bought thousands of copies of her photos, and some feminists hailed her as a pioneer of women's liberation.

Gretchen Mol portrayed her in 2005's "The Notorious Bettie Page" and Paige Richards had the role in 2004's "Bettie Page: Dark Angel." Page herself took part in the 1998 documentary "Betty Page: Pinup Queen."

Her career began one day in October 1950 when she took a respite from her job as a secretary in a New York office for a walk along the beach at Coney Island. An amateur photographer named Jerry Tibbs admired the 27-year-old's firm, curvy body and asked her to pose.

Looking back on the career that followed, she told Playboy in 1998, "I never thought it was shameful. I felt normal. It's just that it was much better than pounding a typewriter eight hours a day, which gets monotonous."

Nudity didn't bother her, she said, explaining: "God approves of nudity. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, they were naked as jaybirds."

In 1951, Page fell under the influence of a photographer and his sister who specialized in S&M. They cut her hair into the dark bangs that became her signature and posed her in spiked heels and little else. She was photographed with a whip in her hand, and in one session she was spread-eagled between two trees, her feet dangling.

"I thought my arms and legs would come out of their sockets," she said later.

Moralists denounced the photos as perversion, and Sen. Estes Kefauver of Tennessee, Page's home state, launched a congressional investigation.

Page quickly retreated from public view, later saying she was hounded by federal agents who waved her nude photos in her face. She also said she believed that, at age 34, her days as "the girl with the perfect figure" were nearly over.

She moved to Florida in 1957 and married a much younger man, as an early marriage to her high school sweetheart had ended in divorce.

Her second marriage also failed, as did a third, and she suffered a nervous breakdown.

In 1959, she was lying on a sea wall in Key West when she saw a church with a white neon cross on top. She walked inside and became a born-again Christian.

After attending Bible school, she wanted to serve as a missionary but was turned down because she had been divorced.

Instead, she worked full-time for evangelist Billy Graham's ministry.

A move to Southern California in 1979 brought more troubles.

She was arrested after an altercation with her landlady, and doctors who examined her determined she had acute schizophrenia. She spent 20 months in a state mental hospital in San Bernardino.

A fight with another landlord resulted in her arrest, but she was found not guilty because of insanity. She was placed under state supervision for eight years.

"She had a very turbulent life," Todd Mueller, a family friend and autograph seller, told The Associated Press on Thursday. "She had a temper to her."

Mueller said he first met Page after tracking her down in the 1990s and persuaded her to do an autograph signing event.

He said she was a hit and sold about 3,000 autographs, usually for $200 to $300 each."Eleanor Roosevelt, we got $40 to $50. ... Bettie Page outsells them all," he told The AP last week.

Born April 22, 1923, in Nashville, Tenn., Page said she grew up in a family so poor "we were lucky to get an orange in our Christmas stockings."

The family included three boys and three girls, and Page said her father molested all of the girls.

After the Pages moved to Houston, her father decided to return to Tennessee and stole a police car for the trip. He was sent to prison, and for a time Betty lived in an orphanage.

In her teens she acted in high school plays, going on to study drama in New York and win a screen test from 20th Century Fox before her modeling career took off.

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