Often called the photographer
who made Bettie Page famous,
I was a model myself before
I discovered my métier behind the camera.
After high school, I enrolled
in the Coronet Modeling School and Agency
in Miami, quickly won a slew of pageants –
Queen of Miami, Florida Orchid Queen,
Miss Trailercoach of Dade County,
Cheesecake Queen of 1951, among them.
But when I took a photography class
to save money on my modeling photographs,
Eye magazine bought my first assignment,
a picture of Maria Stringer, for the cover
of their March 1954 issue.
Of course, I’d go on to shoot for Playboy,
Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Redbook and others.
My stills of Ursula Andress emerging
from the water on a Jamaica beach
for the 1962 James Bond film, Dr. No,
probably my best-known bikini shots.
But I got out of men’s magazines in the 1970’s
when the photographs got smuttier,
the poses more revealing.
I had a bit part in Midnight Cowboy
and some other films, roles on Miami Vice,
but my favorite was stumping the panelists
on What’s My Live?, a 1957 episode
on which Shelley Winters was the celebrity guest
with her husband, Tony Franciosa.
To be fair, we ran out of time
after five incorrect answers,
but none of the panelists –
Arlene Francis and her husband, Martin Gabel,
Dorothy Kilgallen and Bennett Cerf –
seemed to have a clue about my occupation –
Bunny Yeager, “Cheesecake photographer.”
Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore. A full-length collection of poems, The Field of Happiness, will be published in 2022 by Kelsay Books.