BETTY BOOP Biography - Fictional, Iconical & Mythological characters


Biography » fictional iconical mythological characters » betty boop


Betty Boop is an animated cartoon character appearing in the Talkartoon and             
Betty Boop series of films produced by Max Fleischer and released by Paramount         
Pictures. With her overt sexual appeal, Betty was a hit with theater-goers, and         
despite having been toned down in the mid-1930s, she remains popular today.             
Betty Boop made her first appearance on August 9, 1930 in the cartoon Dizzy             
Dishes, the sixth installment in Fleischer's Talkartoon series. She was                 
originally designed by Grim Natwick, a veteran animator of the silent era who           
would become lead director and animator for the Ub Iwerks and Walt Disney               
studios. The character was modeled after Helen Kane, the famous popular singer         
of the 1920s and contract player at Paramount Pictures, the studio that                 
distributed Fleischer's cartoons. By direction of Dave Fleischer, Natwick               
designed the original character in the mode of a French poodle. The character's         
voice was first performed by Margie Hines, and was later provided by several           
different voice actresses including Kate Wright, Ann Rothschild (a.k.a. Little         
Ann Little), Bonnie Poe, and most notably, Mae Questel who began in 1931 and           
continued with the role until 1938.                                                     
While the original design was rather ugly and awkward, she was developed further       
after Natwick's departure under Berny Wolf, Seymour Kneitel, Roland Crandall,           
and Willard Bowsky. Betty became finalized as completely human by 1932 in the           
cartoon Any Rags. Her floppy poodle ears became hoop earrings, and her black           
poodle nose became a girl's button-like nose. Betty appeared in ten cartoons as         
a supporting character, a flapper girl with more heart than brains. In                 
individual cartoons she was called "Nancy Lee" and "Nan McGrew", usually served         
as a girlfriend to studio star Bimbo.                                                   
Although it has been assumed that Betty's first name was established in the 1931       
Screen Songs cartoon Betty Co-ed, this "Betty" was, an entirely different               
character. Though the song may have led to Betty's eventual christening, any           
references to Betty Co-ed as a Betty Boop vehicle are incorrect. (The official         
Betty Boop website describes the titular character as a "prototype" of Betty.)         
In all, there were at least 12 Screen Songs cartoons that featured either Betty         
Boop or a similar character.                                                           
Betty appeared in the first "Color Classic"cartoon 'Poor Cinderella', her only         
theatrical color appearance (1934). Betty made a cameo appearance in the feature       
film Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), in her traditional black and white, saying         
work had "gotten slow since cartoons went to color," but she still had "what it         
Betty Boop became the star of the Talkartoons by 1932, and was given her own           
series in that same year beginning with Stopping the Show. From this point on,         
she was crowned "The Queen of the Animated Screen." The series was hugely               
popular throughout the 1930s, lasting until 1939. But her best appearances are         
considered to be in the first three years due to her "Jazz Baby" character with         
innocent sexuality, which was aimed at adults. However the content of her films         
was affected by The National Legion of Decency and The Production Code of 1933.         
The Production Code guidelines imposed on the Motion Picture Industry placed           
specific restrictions on the content films with references to sexual innuendo.         
This greatly affected the content of the films of Mae West at Paramount, as well       
as the Betty Boop cartoons until the end of the series.                                 
Oddly, Betty Boop was the subject of additional publicity in 1934 when Helen           
Kane launched a major lawsuit against Max Fleischer and Paramount Studios for           
the "deliberate caricature" that produced "unfair competition" that exploited           
her personality and image. While Miss Kane had risen to fame in the 1920s as "The       
Boop-Oop-A-Doop Girl" star of stage, recordings, and films for Paramount, her           
career was over by 1930. Interestingly, Paramount promoted the development of           
Betty Boop following Miss Kane's decline. As Miss Kane's claims seemed on the           
surface to be valid, it was proven that her appearance was not unique in that           
she and the Betty Boop character bore a resemblance to Clara Bow, another major         
star of Paramount. But the largest evidence against Miss Kane's case was her           
claims to the origins of her singing style. While and outgrowth of Jazz "scat           
singing," testimony revealed that Miss Kane had witnessed a black performer, "Baby     
Esther" using a similar characterization in an act at the famous Cotton                 
Clubnightclub in Harlem some years earlier. An early test sound film was               
discovered of Baby Esther performing in this style, disproving Miss Kane's             
While "Betty Boop" continued in production for the next five years, her best           
films had already been released, since her personality was greatly neutralized         
from that point on. Due to a combination of policies affected by The Production         
Code and also changes in the content of Paramount's films also affected Betty's         
later appearances. While her later cartoons were more slick and consistently           
produced, they relied heavily on self-consciously cute and moralistic preaching,       
making Betty more of a "good citizen" maiden aunt spinster separated from any           
references to sexuality, and innocent girlishness. Oddly, Betty became a               
secondary character in her own cartoons, which began to center on the adventures       
of her pet dog, Pudgy, and the eccentric inventor, Grampy, who bore an                 
interesting resemblance to Koko the Clown.                                             
While the period that Betty represented had been replaced by the the "Big Bands"       
of The Swing Era, Fleischer Studios made an attempt to develop a replacement           
character in this style in the "Betty Boop" cartoon, "Sally Swing" (1938). While       
a concept with potential, the character was not well conceived and failed to           
project an energetic personality of the type later developed by Tex Avery at MGM,       
or the type emerging from Betty Hutton, a major Paramount star and symbol of the       
"Swing" and "Jitterbug" craze.                                                         
The last "Betty Boop" cartoons were released in 1939, and a few made attempts to       
bring Betty into the "Swing Era." In her last appearance, "Rhythm on the               
Reservation" (1939), she drives an open convertible labeled, "Betty Boop's Swing       
Band" while driving through a settlement of Native Americans. While in some ways       
considered "politically incorrect" by today's standards and sentiments over             
racial stereotypes, Betty introduces the natives to "Swing Music" and creates a         
"Swinging Sioux Band." Whle the last listed title in the series was "Yip-Yip-Yippie,"   
it was a one shot cartoon without Betty.                                               
In 1955, Betty's 110 cartoon appearances were sold to television syndicator, U.M.       
& M TV Corporation in 1955, which was acquired by National Telefilm Associates (NTA)   
the following year. NTA was reorganized in the 1980s under the Republic name,           
which is presently a subsidiary of Viacom, the parent company owning Paramount.         
After all of the trading and selling, Betty has come back to her original home         
studio, Paramount. Betty Boop appeared in two television specials, THE ROMANCE         
OF BETTY BOOP (1984) and "The Betty Boop Movie Mystery (1989), as well as cameo         
appearances in television commercials. And while a television revivals were             
planned, nothing materialized to the degree originally planned.                         
While the animated cartoons of "Betty Boop" have enjoyed a remarkable                   
rediscovery over the last 30 years, official home video releases have been             
limited to the VHS collector's set of the 1990s. In spite of continue interest,         
no official DVD releases have occurred to date. Ironically, the image of Betty         
Boop has gained more recognition through the massive merchandising license             
launched by the heirs of Max Fleishcer, with audiences today unaware of Betty's         
place in cinema and animation history.