Thursday, October 19, 2006


In this year of 2006, rife with political scandals and horrific acts of homicide, 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, (such as the length of a skirt), while we allow the unlawful and dangerous shenanigans of our politicians to go unchecked! Nope, nothing much has changed that I can see.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now there was one "wild and crazy" woman.

PS....I have got a few really good graphics of Miss Betty I will be sending you today so be on the look for them.

4:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post, I love the surprise barb at the end! I learned something today. I never knew what Betty was all about. Your analysis is right on. The stories that you tell are just the right length. They remind me of sitting around the table after dinner with my parents or grandparents and hearing a story or two. This intergenerational communication is so vital to the health of a society. It builds communal memory.

4:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How true...nothing much at all seems to change. Things just keep reappearing in different ways. But I have a hard time understanding how the length of a skirt caused such an uproar compared to what goes on today.

9:23 AM  
Blogger Maya's Granny said...

Right on, Sister.

5:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In high school we had to kneel down to make sure our skirts touched the floor. This was before girls could wear pants! I do remember Betty Boop, as a young girl born in 1951, I was thrilled to see a female cartoon character. But I don't think she stayed on long and I missed her. I never knew her history. Fascinating!

3:10 PM  

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