Betty Boop Made Her Debut On This Day in 1930
Just about everyone in the world knows who Betty Boop is. She made her debut in the cartoon Dizzy Dishes which was released on August 9, 1930… exactly 93 years ago! Just a few years later, Betty Boop served as the original Snow White in an animation by her creators Max and Dave Fleischer. While her looks have been compared to stars such as Greta Garbo and Helen Kane, the creators said that she is more of a creation inspired by the Jazz Age, not any individual person.
Betty Boop actually began as a dog with floppy ears but was soon reimagined into a fully female human character. While Fleischer Studios was a rival to Disney during that time, their animation styles couldn’t have been more different. Fleischer was drawn to more dangerous, urban settings as you can see in the Snow White short where the Evil Queen’s face becomes eggs in a frying pan. Heather Hendershot, a media historian at MIT shared, “The Fleischer Studios had a really experimental and kind of Surrealist style. In fact, they were inspirational to the Surrealists.”
Starting out as more of a flapper girl, Betty Boop has changed occupations and styles many times over the years. At first, she was considered somewhat of a sex symbol but as times have changed she has become a racecar driver and even a presidential candidate. Her style has gone from a sexy red dress to jeans and a T-shirt. She’s often flanked by men and hangs out with her puppy friends. Before Betty Boop could get a makeover, she was almost canceled just a few years after her inception due to changes in culture and warnings of censorship of “indecent or undue exposure.” There goes her sexy dresses.
The animators got busy and revamped the character, losing most of her curves, and jewelry, and lengthening her height as well as her skirt length. In the cartoons, her stories varied and often centered around Pudgy, her pet dog. Ultimately, the studio was not happy with censoring the character and her cartoons were retired by 1939. In 1955, Paramount sold some of its pre-1950s shorts and Betty Boop got her resurgence. She became the star of a 1985 special called The Romance of Betty Boop and has remained an iconic character in merchandise and fandom.
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Betty Boop has always been a bit of a controversial character, as some say that she is a powerful female while others claim that she was just created by men and is not a good role model for girls. Even so, her legacy remains alive and well and she even has her own social media accounts, sharing photos and celebrating holidays in different outfits. She has even been featured in a self-help book to promote values like self-care and kindness. What do you think about Betty Boop? No matter your opinion on the cartoon, it is hard to believe she has been around for over nine decades.