Updated: May 15
"I'm going to prove a woman can do anything a man can do. I'll run for president." The voice belongs not to a millennial woman, but a thoroughly modern 1930s cartoon character known as Betty Boop. She is squeaky-voiced wide-eyed, curvaceous and innocent, and eternally, irrepressibly optimistic. Boop has enjoyed a rapid rise to celebrity status and is adored by men and woman alike.
No matter that the saucy little character with the spit curls, bangles, short skirt and garter has mainly been forgotten since she disappeared from comic strips and films more than 70 years ago. Once well known to a generation of moviegoers. Boop is now finding a new audience, unfamiliar with her past life as a star of more than 100 black-and-white cartoons. A cult following of Boop fans started building in the 1970s in Europe and North America. In 1975, Avon published a collection of old Betty Boop comics.
Betty is a free spirit, she has a career, romance and she likes to have fun. Importantly she has kept all those things in balance. She asserts herself, still at the same time she is feminine.
"She means good times. She's always happy. She's kind of coy, not dependent, and she gets what she wants, though she's not the using type of character." (a fan)
A fan writes, "She means good times. She's always happy. She's kind of coy, not dependent, and she gets what she wants, though she's not the using type of character."
In the 1932 Betty Boop For President, Betty throws kisses, swings her skirt and sings what she'll do when she's the president.
In Bamboo Isle, a topless, grass-skirted Boop is challenged to dance a hula. "You ain't seen anything yet!" she exclaims. Later in the film, she asks, "Is anybody looking?" before kissing her friend Bimbo.
Betty Boop was created in 1929 depression-era America by Grim Natwick, a former animator with Disney, Betty Boop made her debut in 1930 in a cartoon produced by Max and Dave Fleischer for Paramount Pictures.
Betty Boop was styled after Helen Kane, a popular radio singer who was the "boop-boop-a-doop" girl. Kane sought to show that Betty Boop had copied $250,000 worth of her 'boop-boop-a-doop" style. However despite the public attention at the time she lost.
A true flapper, Boop was a flirt and a tease who was not naive, despite her innocent face. In 1932, Betty Boop introduced Popeye the Sailor to filmgoers. He would later replace Boop on the Fleischers' list of priorities. But first, she would sing and dance, be propositioned and chased through dozens of films, upsetting women's groups and censors at the time.
In 1934, King Features gave Boop her own newspaper comic strip, where she played a movie actress. Also that year, a U.S censorship board introduced a new production code, and Betty's curves were concealed.
The comic strip was dropped in 1938, and a year later, Fleischer Studios ended Boop's cartoon reign.
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