who picked up the Sun on Monday found the famed British tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch was missing a certain something.

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For more than 40 years, the Sun’s risque Page 3 has been admired by some for its assets, loathed by feminists and some legislators, embarrassed one of the richest men in the world known for his conservative politics — and was a consistent topic of conversation among friends and foes alike.

Page 3 as we knew it began in 1970 when Sun editor Larry Lamb took a risk.

When Murdoch was out of the country, Lamb published topless photos of a 20-year-old German model on Page 3.

“I helped make page three part of the language,” wrote Lamb, who died in 2000.

“In many ways now I wish I hadn’t.” Indeed, even in the middle of a sexual revolution, the propriety of publishing what amounted to softcore pornography in a daily tabloid was arguable. “I don’t think the Sun will ever pull out,” the owner of a management company that recruited models for the Sun said in 2004.

But the rise in circulation — 1.5 million to 2.1 million, according to the BBC — did not abide what some called prudery. “It knows its audience.” But as the Sun became Britain’s best-selling paper, voices were raised against Page 3, and Labor member of parliament Clare Short introduced a bill to end Page 3 toplessness.

It failed — and the paper dubbed her “Killjoy Clare” — but she touched a nerve.

“I have never known an issue like it,” Short later wrote.

“I received five thousand letters before I stopped counting. On this issue, where no powerful lobby had asked anyone to write, thousands of women put pen to paper to express their views and fears.” When Short revived her effort in 2003, a Sun reader called her “fat” and “jealous.” “Who are we to disagree?