On the First Sex Symbol


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Regarded as an animated sex symbol from the Depression era as she was a Flapper Girl reminder of the Roaring 20s

The wind blew up her skirt before Marilyn Monroe’s famous skirt scene

122 cartoon appearances

#17 TV Guide’s Greatest Cartoon Characters

Famous Tagline: “Boop-oop-a-doop”
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Created by Max Fleischer and Grim Natwick

First appearance Dizzy Dishes (August 9, 1930)

Last appearance Rhythm on the Reservation (July 7, 1939)

First voiced by Margie Hines, but voiced by four others in that decade

Most famously voiced by Mae Questel, who also voiced Betty in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) and other appearances until her death (1998)

Fleishcer used jazz great Cab Calloway and his Minnie the Moocher hit in a 1932 short – so, here’s Calloway’s introduction and the song from the cartoon.

Originally appeared in the sixth Talkartoon series

Comic strip from 1934 to 1937

Initially appeared as a poodle in human form

Appeared many times as companion to Bimbo

Character based on Clara Bow and Helen Kane (the latter eventually sued, but lost)

Originally black and white, but the first color appearance was Poor Cinderella (1934)

Betty Boop had international popularity

Here’s a well done 4-minute report about Betty’s history

Given her dress and cleavage, the National Legion of Decency and the Production Code of 1934 forced changes in her appearance, dress, and cartoon content

Fearless Fred, a boyfriend, introduced in 1935 and her dog Pudgy

Bette Boop balloon has appeared in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Each year, a Betty Boop and Baby Boop Look-a-Like Contest is held in Montebello, California (last one was July 20, 2013)

Enjoy Riding the Rails (1938), her only Oscar nomination

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45 thoughts on “On the First Sex Symbol

  1. Frank I haven’t seen that Minnie the Moocher film with Cab Calloway since my early college days when I was still living in San Francisco. It’s such an imaginative sequence with the ghosts, the poison-quaffing skeletons, and the creepy crone. It impressed me a lot when I was young, and I think it still holds up over 80 years later. I was not familiar with Pudgy. As adorable as he was, I much preferred the antics of flapper-style Betty to what she was reduced to when she was censored. When she was made to wear more clothes she was stripped of her originality and edge.

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    • Lame,
      If I recall, that sequence scared me a bit many years ago. As you know, Fleischer was not only one of the pioneers, he was one of the greats – thus worthy to be honored here with a future post about him. I’m with you on Betty losing an edge due to censorship. Even with her edge, she also kept her innocence.

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  2. I wasn’t born in that generation but somehow I remember these cartoons? I think they played them occasionally on TV when I was growing up? I LOVE them. I’m a huge fan of the Little Rascals, too. Again, probably made around the same time but somehow it all translated to my younger senses. LOVE!
    This was a great post, Frank!
    Thanks for inviting me!!
    Grippy

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    • Grippy,
      Welcome … and thanks for coming over. I like doing these on Saturdays. As the sidebar notes, I’ve done over 50 in this series.

      Although her original appearances where solely in the 1930s, her (and other Fleischer cartoons) frequently aired into the early 70s. That’s pretty good longevity!

      Although the Little Rascals don’t qualify for this series, you do have me thinking!

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  3. While there’s no denying Ms Boop’s sexiness, there’s something about her I’ve always found a bit irritating. I’m not quite sure what it is. But!! I LOVE the Minnie the Moocher video!

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    • Alex,
      Personally, I never liked her voice .. so maybe the same for you. When I found the video that spiced together two scenes from the Minnie the Moocher cartoon, I had to use it!

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  4. I love this one Frank, great stuff. Betty has always been one of my favorites. I had forgotten the Minnie cartoon, hadn’t seen that one in years. Thank you for the fabulous reminder of a great cartoon.

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  5. That was interesting, Frank. Wouldn’t you know, she was breaking decency rules and needed to be put in her place. How would she fare today in her original outfit?

    That dancer with the Cab C. band was really fluid. He and Michael Jackson could have done an awesome number if they had a chance. He was almost moon walking.

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  6. I love Betty Boop! As a kid I loved her voice. Montebello is a neighbor city, and had no idea about the Betty Boop contest. That would be so much fun to witness. She truly was a one of a kind cartoon! I can’t think of anyone/thing quite like her! 🙂

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  7. Brilliant introduction and animation of Calloway’s Minnie the Moocher. Loved this video! Not into BB that much… or most anthropomorphic cartoons for that matter but I always enjoy great work when I see it!
    🙂 Hope you’re enjoying your evening!

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  8. Aahh, Betty, innocent, until prudes made her dirty. Moonwalk Michael must have studied Cab’s moves. They moved me! There’s a similar scene in one of the Thin Man movies. It’s like the laws of gravity and friction just don’t apply. 🙂

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