The Origins of Betty Boop

Betty Boop was created by Max Fleischer of Fleischer Studios, and made her debut in 1930’s Talkartoon cartoon short “Dizzy Dishes.” The cartoon originally starred the voice talent of Margie Hines, and Betty appeared as an anthropomorphic French poodle that was modeled after the likeness of singer Helen Kane. An immediate success due to Betty's saucy look, it was only in 1932’s cartoon “Any Rags” that she transformed into a human. Her floppy ears became hoop earrings, and her black canine snout transitioned into skin-colored button nose. A cartoon that loved to sing and dance, she became recognized for her large child-like head, love of music and cute catch phrase. Join WatchMojo.com as we explore the origins of Betty Boop.
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The Origins of Betty Boop

She is the world’s first animated sex symbol, despite starting life as a dog. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be taking a look at the history of Betty Boop.

Betty Boop was created by Max Fleischer of Fleischer Studios, and made her debut in 1930’s Talkartoon cartoon short “Dizzy Dishes.” The cartoon originally starred the voice talent of Margie Hines. This was when Betty appeared as an anthropomorphic French poodle that was modeled after the likeness of singer Helen Kane.

Betty was an immediate success due to her saucy look. However, it was only in 1932’s cartoon “Any Rags” that she transformed into a human. Her floppy ears became hoop earrings, and her black canine snout transitioned into skin-colored button nose.

Betty was a coy singer with a large child-like head who loved to dance and lift her skirt. She became well known for her cute catch phrase, and many viewers felt her talents went beyond what she showcased on stage.

Betty Boop did not approve of the era’s dress code. She was blessed with a heart of gold but not much in the way of brains. She made her color cartoon debut in the 1934 short, “Poor Cinderella,” where she was depicted as a red head.

Betty attracted a primarily adult audience as her cartoons often incorporated many sexual and surreal elements. She quickly emerged as the star of the Talkartoon shorts, and starred in over 100 cartoons. She also served as a symbol of the Depression era, and a reminder of the carefree days of Jazz.

Betty Boop stood out in animation for her unique portrayal of women, which was in stark contrast to her contemporaries like Minnie Mouse. While Minnie did show her underwear and blouses in a childlike way, Betty was proud to flaunt her sexuality and display her feminine characteristics by wearing high heels and a garter belt. In fact, male characters were regularly shown sneaking a peak underneath her clothing.

Betty Boop was a controversial character. Her appearance was then toned down due to 1934’s National Legion of Decency Production Code. This imposed guidelines on the motion picture industry and limited sexual innuendos. As a result, Betty was stripped of her suggestive introduction, was given a longer dress, was made a husbandless career girl and was given a boyfriend named Freddie.

She also became more family-friendly when she was teamed with a puppy named Pudgy, and when she developed a friendship with an eccentric inventor named Grampy.

The series then radically declined in popularity, and faded as it began focusing on her co-stars. In 1939, Betty made her final cartoon appearance in “Rhythm on the Reservation.”

Despite Betty’s decline from the cinematic spotlight, she appeared in two television specials in the late 1980s. She also made a cameo appearance in the feature film “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” where she maintained her traditional black and white look. She eventually managed to rekindle her initial popularity through merchandising, and she appeared on countless products – including casino slot machines.

Betty Boop remains a cinematic icon and sex symbol. And like any woman in show biz, she shows no signs of her age or of slowing down.
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