Synopsis: Bunny Yeager, “the world’s prettiest photographer” started out as a beauty contest winner and professional photographer’s model in the 50s. She established herself as one of America’s top ten glamour photographers through the 50s and 60s for PLAYBOY and other magazines. This pictorial shows 100 of her most glamorous models, featuring BETTIE PAGE, and including photographs and original footage of Bunny with the girls behind the scenes.
eyelights: its sexy photography. its abundance of beautiful women.
eyesores: its editing. its lack of insight. its brevity.
‘100 Girls: New Concepts in Glamour Photography’ is a book that was published in 1965, collecting some of photographer Bunny Yeager’s oeuvre. In 1997, budding filmmaker Nico B took on the task of making a video version of that book.
Narrated by Bunny Yeager herself, the 42-minute film essentially finds the legend listing each of the models in her book one by one, providing a very brief bio for each one. She also discusses her start in the business in a very brief intro.
A tall, beautiful blonde, Yeager began as a model and made a bit of a splash in Miami in the early ’50s. But she was intrigued about being behind the camera, took some classes, and got started by the mid-’50s. She was in great demand.
Her pictures were sometimes published in Playboy and she even helped to make Bettie Page famous with a series of pictures in a leopard print bikini alongside two real leopards – as well as with a pictorial in Hugh Hefner’s emerging magazine.
Here Bettie Page is only featured for a brief time, as long as any of the other women in Yeager’s book, which is wholly appropriate; this is about Yeager, not Page, and there are likely many other opportunities to see the Yeager/Page pics.
The photography is really quite appealing, thanks to Yeager’s ability to photograph in natural light and her subjects’ willingness to pose au naturel. The variety of women, forms, poses and settings made the viewing infinitely enjoyable.
On top of the many scans and pans of the pictures in Yeager’s book, ‘100 Girls by Bunny Yeager’ also features brief clips from two very amateur films starring Yeager, ‘Bunny Yeager’s Nude Camera’ and ‘Bunny Yeager’s Nude Las Vegas’.
These films seem to consist of staged semi-autobiographical films about Yeager’s work as a photographer, finding models, convincing them (and their boyfriends) to pose for her, and signing up publishers to put these pictures in print.
They look terrible, and of limited interest (perhaps watching women modelling nude live was their intention?).
Strangely, it wasn’t clear at the onset what these clips were; there was no title card, subtitle or narration to explain. So I wondered if it was an unrelated movie, if it was a movie based on her life, and if it was actually Yeager.
Only the end credits cleared the matter up.
The technical presentation for this short film is awful: not only does it not list its sources during the program, it begins abruptly, doesn’t tell us that it’s narrated by Yeager, and doesn’t introduce its subject. It just jumps in and plows on.
(In all fairness, it was one of Nico B’s first films. But it is pretty rough.)
The picture ends with 1996 footage of Bunny Yeager doing a photo shoot with “Bambi” on a beach. Sadly, there are no interviews, no insight, nothing. It’s just a short clip of her taking pictures. At least this bit has an explanatory note.
Inexplicably, the credits roll over black and white footage of a blonde singing “Blackbird Bye Bye”. Was it Peggy Lee? Was it Bunny Yeager? Was it Yeager’s favourite song? Why was this performance included here? The credits didn’t say.
Ultimately, ‘100 Girls by Bunny Yeager’ is an okay primer on Yeager’s book but it’s not insightful in any way, in that it doesn’t talk about Yeager much or provide perspective on the book. It merely provides us with bios on various models.
I couldn’t help but wonder where they all were now. These 100 “Girls” all had hopes, aspirations, and dreams, when they came to Yeager. What happened of their youthful ambitions? What became of them afterwards? Was this the beginning or the end?
There’s an endless stream of models, and while these young women were quite attractive and were well photographed, they likely got lost in the shuffle, never to be seen again. And that’s something that is rarely discussed in these programmes.
Beauty is fleeting, and glamour is but a beautiful dream.
Date of viewing: August 21, 2017