It’s Betty Boop and her pooch Pudgy! Now, that’s a blast from the past of about thirty years before my time. They came along in the same era as when our oldest Sun City Peachtree residents were born!
The year was 1930 when Betty made her first appearance in the cartoon Dizzy Dishes, the seventh installment of Max Fleischer’s series Talkartoon, which was released by Paramount Pictures. She has also been featured in comic strips and mass merchandising and is one of the best-known and popular cartoon characters in the world.
Betty Boop began as a caricature of singer Helen Kane and was transformed into a cute, light-hearted flapper girl of the Jazz Age. She was featured in 90 theatrical cartoons between 1930 and 1939.
Helen Kane took exception with her caricature, though. In 1932, she filed a $250,000 infringement lawsuit against Max Fleischer and Paramount Publix Corporation for the “deliberate caricature” that produced “unfair competition”, exploiting her personality and image. The case finally went to court in 1934, and Fleischer testified that Betty Boop purely was a product of the imaginations of himself and detailed by members of his staff. Yeah, right. Kane had risen to fame in the late 1920s as the “The Boop-Oop-A-Doop Girl”, a star of stage, recordings, and films for Paramount. It’s a bit too coincidental to me, and Fleischer even admitted that Helen Kane had been their model for Betty Boop. Surprisingly, Helen Kane lost her case.
Meanwhile, Betty Boop’s sexy looks weren’t acceptable to the prudes of the era, because once the Motion Picture Industry instituted the Hays Code, her character and appearance became quite demure. The Hays Code was a set of industry guidelines for the self-censorship of content that was applied to most United States motion pictures released by major studios from 1934 to 1968.
In a 1934 court case, the flapper was described as: “combin[ing] in appearance the childish with the sophisticated—a large round baby face with big eyes and a nose like a button, framed in a somewhat careful coiffure, with a very small body of which perhaps the leading characteristic is the most self-confident little bust imaginable.” (Yes, my eyes were rolling when I typed that last part!)
Once the Hays Code went into effect, Betty’s flapper dress was tossed in favor of a fuller dress or skirt. Her hair became less curly, and she eventually stopped wearing her gold bracelets and hoop earrings.
Betty had to tone down her personality, too. Joseph Breen, the new head film censor, ordered Betty to stop winking and shaking her hips in her film introductions, because they were too “suggestive of immorality”. As a result, Betty’s personality became less sexy and more mature. At least they made her wiser, too!
It was about that time when Betty got her puppy pal, Pudgy, and he starred with her in Little Pal. Pudgy is quite the cutie with his black spots, and he is her very faithful companion.
Now, then, are a few Betty Boop Quotes:
“I wanna be loved by you!”
“I’m too pooped to Boop…”
And, my favorite and yours, “Boop-Oop-a-Doop!”