Nicknamed "the string bean" by her high school classmates in McAllen, Texas, five-foot-ten Betty Biehn yearned to be beautiful. When she saw the photos from her first modeling test, five years after graduating, she realized that her dream had come true.
Biehn graduated from high school in post-WWII America and as soon as she could, she boarded a bus for Dallas to attend modeling school. But teachers there discouraged Betty because her body was too "lean" and her face too "round". She took jobs as an elevator operator, a window dresser and a bookkeeper, all the while keeping an eye out for modeling work. After appearing in some fashion shows, she headed for L.A., hoping for success as a photographer's model. However, West Coast photographers were looking for more buxom models.
In 1952, refusing to give up, Betty moved to New York City, where her first job was modeling bras and girdles for Vogue magazine. In New York, Betty's body type was readily accepted and she would soon become the city's number one nude model. At the time, nudity in photos was just beginning to become widespread and Betty took full advantage of this. She had finally found her niche in the modeling industry.
Betty Biehn became a favorite model of several top photographers, including John Rawlings (1912-1970), J. Frederick Smith (1917-2006) and Fernand Fonssagrives (1910-2003). Biehn was "Cadillac - looking" said one photographer, and her classic form had the ability to bridge the gap between high fashion and the nude.
As a testament to her stature in New York City, a book featuring Betty, as the sole model interpreted by ten photographers, was published in 1958. It was called, simply, "The Model". In 1966, John Rawlings published his own book of photos, entitled "The Photographer and His Model".
Betty Biehn left New York in 1970 after modeling for 18 years and returned to Texas. She made a great career in the field that she loved, despite contradicting some people's ideas of what could be accepted in the modeling world.