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Betty Boop's Origin

Betty Boop is famous as the first featured female character in American animation. She was created by Fleischer Studios in 1930 to upstage Bimbo in the Talkartoon series. Soon she gained enormous popularity; by August, 1932 the Taklartoons were renamed in the Betty Boop cartoons. The production of the series lasted till 1939, and Betty Boop was known as “the Queen” of the animated movies.

Betty’s performance is believed to be the best in the cartoons created till 1934. The adult audience was charmed by her innocent sexuality and girlishness. But the censorship guidelines enforced in the mid-1930s greatly affected the character – the sexual aura was eliminated and Betty turned into a moralistic young woman. In her later cartoons, the girl was often seen as a secondary character while the story centered on her puppy, Pudgy, and an eccentric professor, Grampy.

Betty Boop was modeled after Helen Kane, who was a popular singer of the 1920s, famous for her “boop-boop-a-doop” trade mark. The character’s voice was mostly performed by Mae Questel. In 1932 Miss Kane sued Paramount and the Fleischers, claiming that they had unfairly copied her unique singing style. The judge ruled against Miss Kane, since her style could be an imitation itself: a little-known singer known as “Baby Esther” was mentioned to have performed the same way a few years before that.

The last cartoon with Betty Boop, “Rhythm on the Reservation”, was released in 1939. With coming of the Swing Era, the studio attempted to replace Betty with Sally Swing that was supposed to fit in the new trends better. Yet the new character did not gain any success.

In the 1980s Betty Boop appeared in two television specials, “The Romance of Betty Boop” and “The Betty Boop Movie Mystery”.