THE SCANDALOUS “BOOP-OOP-a-DOOP”
In this year of 2008, rife with political scandals and horrific acts it is pretty hard to understand how a little cartoon figure could cause such a stir. But that’s exactly what happened with Betty Boop, who made her appearance in the early 1930‘s.
As I understand it she had originally been portrayed in the form of a floppy eared dog but by 1932 Paramount Pictures and Max Fleischer had transformed her into the Betty that we all came to love. She was a blatantly sexual cartoon character but the animators made sure to keep her “pure”.
Her cartoon films stood out from the competition mainly because of the upbeat jazz soundtracks. Artists such as Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway were two of the better-known contributors. One film was actually titled “Boop-Oop-a-Doop” and when Betty is threatened by a salacious ringmaster she tells her friend, the clown, “He couldn’t take my boop-oop-a-doop away!” That phrase became her byword.
It is ironic that Betty’s spirited sexuality would spell her doom even as it was making stars of the women who copied her antics. Can anyone forget the memorable performance by Marilyn Monroe in “Some Like it Hot”, the 1959 hit with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis? Her song “I Wanna Be Loved By You” with the chorus of Boop-boop-a-doop was a direct takeoff of Betty.
In 1934 the Production Code censorship laws forced Betty to increase the length of her skirt and to cover up the revealing neckline. She was no longer a “risqué” flapper. She became a husbandless housewife with a little dog named Pudgy and the films fell flat. It would seem that her cartoon career was at an end in 1939, but you can’t keep a girl like Betty under wraps.
She has been revived over the years in syndicated films and even had a cameo appearance in the Academy Award winning film “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” in 1988. Her phrase “Boop-Oop-a-Doop” has survived the test of time and is imitated to this day by teasing females.
I realize that her demise was in 1934 but it seems to me that not much has changed. We still get sidetracked on unimportant issues, (“the length of a skirt” ??), while we allow the unlawful and dangerous shenanigans of our politicians to go unchecked!