Betty Boop – The Character, The History

March 19, 2017

Origins of Betty Boop

Betty Boop first was first sketched around 1923 as a dog, a French poodle to be exact. This however was not particularly popular and she was brought to life in her now famous style on our screens in the 1930’s, The first few appearances saw Betty maintain her floppy poodle ears. Her first appearance in Dizzy Dishes saw her basic outline but maintained those big floppy ears. A mixture of human and poodle! Her floppy ears were soon changed to hoop earrings in her first totally human appearance in the film ‘Any Rags’. Her black poodle nose had changed to a girls button-like nose & her voice had been refined to a very girly tone with a distinctive Brooklyn accent. Betty as we know and love her today was born.

Popularity of First Releases

Betty Boop was known as the first and probably the most famous sex symbol of the animated screen. She wore short dresses, high heels and a garter belt. She was drawn with a rather girlish quality. Her head was bigger than normal for an adult but normal for a baby! The animators frequently added a gust of wind that saw Betty’s skirt ride up. The audiences loved it. The first three years of her appearances were said to be her best mainly due to her Jazz Baby character and her innocent sexuality, her audience was mainly adults.

Changes For Betty

Things changed for Betty as time went on. Pressure was put on by moralists that insisted that Betty was too revealing and overtly sexy. The animators bowed to this pressure and Betty now began to appear in a fuller or longer skirt and was portrayed as a career girl or husband-less housewife. Betty teamed up with her faithful cute Poodle ‘Pudgy’ in the film ‘Little Pal’ (1934). The following year saw the introduction of ‘Grampy’ in the film ‘Betty Boop and Grampy’ (1935).

Betty Boop Cartoon – The Demise

The later cartoons were a lot tamer than the first releases and were targeted toward a more juvenile audience. This was to be the downfall of the Betty Boop cartoon. During the last few filming’s, her character appeared less and less giving more screen time to her co-stars. The last cartoons were released in 1939 and whilst an attempt was made to revive her and bring her into the swing era, her final cartoon in 1939 – ‘Yip Yip Yippy’ was actually a ‘Boop-Less’ cartoon.

Appeal of Betty Boop Today

Nowadays, Betty Boop is going strong through merchandising products such as figurines, gifts, etc. Her timeless appeal has spawned collectors around the world with clubs and associations in virtually every country on the globe. Collectors of Betty Boop Figurines seek out their favourite figurine and some have huge collections. Her appeal is enduring and long may it last. Boop-oop-a-doop!

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