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People Top 5
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PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- March 05, 1979
- Vol. 11
- No. 9
Bettina Cato, 25, was probably the only child in the world whose mother praised her efforts when she painted all over their living room walls. "She was very proud," recalls Bettina. Cato is still painting—and still being praised. Her delicate watercolors of flower arrangements, shells, antique porcelains and old-fashioned fabrics are being sold (prices range from $400 to $500) exclusively at the Staircase Gallery in Beverly Hills. She now has a six-week waiting list for commissioned pieces. The daughter of a fashion model and an art director (abstract expressionist Willem de Kooning was a family friend), Cato was born in Manhattan and raised in tony Southampton, Long Island after her parents' divorce. Her mom pushed her into modeling as a child, and she appeared in McCall's and Harper's Bazaar. But "I hated it," she says. "I was a tomboy and I would much rather have been riding a horse than wearing a dress." After deciding against college, she worked at the Yves Saint Laurent boutique in Manhattan, then went to South America to gather fabrics en route to California. There she tried living in a mountain log cabin in Mendocino County with a since-departed boyfriend and began painting wild flowers. "I never thought," says Cato, pleased by her success and busy schedule, "I'd make my living from painting."
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