The model turned photographer is often credited with inventing the modern pinup after discovering a little-known model named Bettie Page, who she turned into a global sex symbol.
Yeager passed away Sunday in a North Miami nursing home. The cause of death was heart failure, according to her agent, Ed Christin. She was 85.
Though she'll always be remembered for her sunny, whimsical photos of Page (who passed away in 2008), Yeager's overall cultural impact runs far deeper. Her career took off during the '50s, an especially repressive era for female sexuality. She made everyday women comfortable to bare their bodies, because "they knew that I wouldn't take advantage of them," Yeager told The Associated Press in a 2013 interview. "And I wouldn't push them to do nude if they didn't want to do nudes. It wasn't a day when nude photography was prevalent."
Yeager's work appeared in a variety of magazines, including Playboy. She also helped popularize the bikini after shooting stills of a swimsuit-clad Ursula Andress on the set of the James Bond movie Dr. No. Her photography influenced some of the most important female artists ever, including Cindy Sherman, who's said to have read Yeager's guides on photographing nudes and self-portraits to inform her own work.
Yeager was played by Sarah Paulson in the 2005 biopic The Notorious Bettie Page (watch the trailer here). She is survived by daughters Lisa Packard and Cherilu Duval. (The New York Times)