By David Chown
From her first appearance in the animated film Dizzy Dishes released on August 8th 1930 during the dark days of the Depression, Betty Boop quickly became a regular character in Max Fleischer’s
Talkartoon features. She was in fact first portrayed as a dog character, the love interest of Bimbo, also a dog in the early cartoons. From Bimbo’s canine friend Betty Boop was gradually
transformed, losing her dog characteristics, her floppy ears becoming earrings, into the cute and sexy figure known to millions throughout the world today.
Bimbo had been the Fleischer Studios’ answer to Disney’s Mickey Mouse and it was Grim Natwick, the Fleischer Studios animator who was initially assigned to the Betty Boop character development. Her body is said to have been modelled on Mae West, while Mae Questal was her voice.
There were more than one hundred Betty Boop cartoons produced including, “Betty Boop for President” (1932), “Bamboo Isle” (1932), and “Riding the Rails” (1938), which actually received an Oscar nomination.
Another favourite character in the cartoons was Grampy, the eccentric inventor who, after putting on his thinking cap, was able to solve any problem. Grampy’s way of doing things, was always fun, and to say the least, unique. Another character that showed up occasionally was Koko the clown, although he usually appeared as nothing more then an “extra” in Betty’s cartoons. And then there’s Pudgy, Betty Boop’s little dog. He’s featured in many of her cartoons; in fact there are a couple where he seems to have been the primary character. Betty’s popularity began to decline after her creators were forced to “clean her up” under the Hays Code of 1930 which were a set of guidelines governing the production of motion pictures which began to be enforced in 1934 and not abandoned until 1967. The Code spelled out what was and was not considered acceptable in the production of American motion pictures so out went Betty Boop’s short skirt and garter. Her hemline moved down to her knees, and her character took on more of a schoolteacher image. Eliminating those elements meant the end of her original persona, as it was the “cute” and “sexy” characteristics that had made Betty Boop so popular
With the end of Hayes in 1967, Betty Boop returned to her original concept and has grown enormously in popularity ever since and has become a classic character known throughout the world, as well as a dream come true in all areas of licensing where she is a hot property.
With the growth of her popularity in the UK, there are now many more products available on the market. Toiletries at Boots, Fashionware at New Look, Debenhams, Next and Miss Selfridge, Night Ware at Allders, Asda, Etam and Topshop, as well as many other companies licensed to produce mouse pads, teapots, mobile phone fascias, greetings cards, shower curtains, air fresheners, clocks and watches and car mats to mention just a few. And of course the Wade porcelain Betty Boops which have become so sort after by collectors worldwide.
2017 Betty Boop Catalogue
Download Catalogue here
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