Yeager, 85, died Sunday in a nursing facility in North Miami. The cause was heart failure, said her agent, Ed Christin.
She had success as a model in Miami in the 1950s, but she wanted to be a photographer. She saw her chance when she met the little-known Bettie Page, who had modeled for under-the-counter photo sets that specialized in sadomasochism.
Yeager took a somewhat more wholesome, holiday-themed photo of Page — nude except for a Santa hat — and in 1955 sent it off to fledgling magazine Playboy. "I figured because they were new they might pay attention to an amateur, and that's what happened," she told the London Telegraph in 2012.
Yeager worked with numerous models over the years, but said that Page was uncommonly cooperative.
"It was like us doing a dance together," Yeager said in an interview last year in the Sun Sentinel newspaper in Florida. "I would snap my fingers and she would do exactly what I told her to do: 'Stand on your toes. Kick your leg in the air. Jump in the air.'"
For fun, Yeager started taking pictures of friends in slightly risque poses. But nudity was out of the question. "Where would we even get something like that developed?" she asked.
When she was 17 her family moved to Florida, where she won local beauty contests and got ample work as a model. In 1953 she enrolled in a photography night class at a vocational school. For one of her assignments, she took model pals — dressed in leopard-print swimsuits — to the same animal park where she later shot Page. One of her photos ended up on the cover of Eye magazine and her career began.