Perhaps the worlds first animated sex symbol, it’s surprising to think that Betty Boop started her on screen debut as a poodle.
Created by Max Fleischer, a Polish-American animator, film director and producer with the help of Grim Natwick, Betty made her debut appearance as a talking, singing anthropomorphic French poodle in Fleischer Studios animated series Talkatoons. Appearing as somewhat of a love interest in the 1930’s short, Dizzy Dishes, however it wouldn’t be until 1932 before she transitioned from poodle to a human.
Any Rags, would see Betty Boop now have dangly earrings replacing her once floppy ears and her black canine snout transformed in to a cute little button nose.
The new Betty Boop was a vivacious flapper who drove a car, did popular dances and showed plenty of skin. Her wide eyes and sexy looks were a hit with audiences – as was the fact that she was a clear parody of popular singer Helen Kane who in later years would take legal action against the animation studio with a $250,000 law suit which she said covered damages for the use of her likeness and Kane’s signature delivery of “boop-boop-a-doop”.
Betty primarily attracted an adult audience as her appearances often incorporated many sexual and surreal storylines with Betty flaunting her sexuality proudly, lifting her skirt and getting high as a kite in the infamous Ha! Ha! Ha! which saw Koko the Clown and Betty Boop enjoying laughing gas a little too much. Betty Boop would go on to become the star of the Talkatoons shorts appearing in over 100 cartoons. She would serve as a symbol of the depression era and the care free days of Jazz.
In 1934 the National Legion of Decency Production Code was introduced imposing guidelines on the motion picture industry and limiting sexual innuendos. As you can imagine, Betty Boop was a controversial character so her appearance was toned down, stripped of her suggestive introduction, given a longer dress, made a husbandless career girl and imagined up a boyfriend named Freddy with an aim to become more family friendly. As a result her popularity declined and Betty Boop made her final cartoon appearance in Rhythm on the reservation.
Despite Betty’s decline from the cinematic spotlight, she would later appear in two T.V specials in the late 80’s plus a cameo in the hit film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Betty Boop still remains today a cinematic icon, sex symbol and a goddess, we love her!