Burlesque peaked in the 50s, with such memorable figures as Blaze Starr, Tempest Storm, Jennie Lee and Lili St. Cyr strutting their stuff, but in terms of sheer voluptuousness and natural charm Virginia Bell reigned supreme.
Virginia Bell was born in 1932 in Montrose, California. She was five-foot-two and 120 pounds (and possibly 48-24-36). As for her outstanding cleavage, she was apparently so large in comparison to other girls at the time that many people (including her own booking agent), thought her photos were faked. However, they turned out to be real enough and Virginia, starting on the burlesque circuit in 1954, quickly shot to the top. And predictably, she went on to appear in various men's magazines (including Fling).
Virginia also starred in movies and nudie-cutie reels: her first appearance was in one she co-wrote in 1963 (with her husband, Eli Jackson). It was entitled Bell, Bare and Beautiful and was shot in Miami, at the Spartans' Tropical Garden, in just three days. It appears she was noticeably pregnant during the three days of filming, which would explain why she is tastefully draped in so many scenes. Memorably, the film is remembered as one of the most terrible movies of its day. Nonetheless, it became a cult classic.
Virginia Bell married Eli Jackson in 1960 and retired in 1970.
A pin-up girl or pin-up model is a model whose mass-produced pictures see wide appeal as pop culture. Pin-ups are intended for informal display. Pin-up girls are often glamour models, fashion models, and actresses.
Pin-up may also refer to drawings, paintings and other illustrations done in emulation of these photos. The term was first attested to in English in 1941; however the practice is documented back at least to the 1890s. The "pin up" images could be cut out of magazines or newspapers, or be from postcard or chromo-lithographs, and so on. Such photos often appear on calendars, which are meant to be pinned up anyway. Later, posters of "pin-up girls" were mass-produced.
Many pin-ups were photographs of celebrities who were considered sex symbols. One of the most popular early pin-up girls was Betty Grable. Her poster was ubiquitous in the lockers of G.I.s during World War II. Others pin-ups were artwork, often depicting idealized versions of what some thought a particularly beautiful or attractive woman should look like. An early example of the latter type was the Gibson girl, drawn by Charles Dana Gibson. The genre also gave rise to several well-known artists specializing in the field, including Alberto Vargas and George Petty, and numerous lesser artists such as Art Frahm.
The term "cheesecake" is synonymous with "pin-up photo". The earliest documented print usage of this sense of cheesecake is in 1934, predating "pin-up", although anecdotes say the phrase was in spoken slang some 20 years earlier, originally in the phrase (said of a pretty woman) "better than cheesecake".
These days men can be considered pin-ups as well and there are male equivalents of attractive and sexy actors or male models. The counterpart term to cheesecake is "beefcake".