Who Is Betty Boop, Anyway?

Betty Boop has strutted across the screen for over 75 years. With a skimpy dress and a squeaky voice, she charmed her way into some of the most popular cartoons and pants of her time. Now, the beloved cartoon cutie is coming to Broadway! But what do we really know about this broad, anyway? We investigators at The Frisky delved into the titillator’s textured past to find out what puts the Boop in the “oop a doop.” And it is scandalous!

BACKGROUND: The daughter of Jewish immigrants residing in New York City, Betty emulated the vaudevillian stars of her time like Fanny Brice, as well as the progressive sexuality of birth control champion Emma Goldman. A true “ghetto girl” from the Lower East Side, she brought her family into fame with her and often dealt with Yiddish speaking characters. Betty’s parents were always seen trying to get their skinny daughter to eat and her Aunt Tillie, Grampy and even her little brother, Billy, also had recurring roles on her show. What a nice Jewish girl!

LOVES: After breaking up with her first co-star/boyfriend, Bimbo the dog, Betty had a brief, yet public affair with Santa Claus (they even sent out holiday cards together). When things with the gift giver went south, Betty didn’t know where to turn, so she ran away with the circus. In one of the first on-screen portrayals of sexual harassment, she was accosted by the Ringmaster who threatened to fire her if she didn’t put out. But, a role model for all women, Betty, stood up to the jerk and with the help of Koko, fought him off. In her next big role, her boss again hit on her, and even the Navy came in to save her. But when they found Betty, she was in her boss’ arms being very unprofessional. Then, the Boop ran around with fellow performer, Popeye for a while. Pops clearly has a thing for his high-pitched, brunette co-stars, but eventually, he left the buxom Betty for the tall and thin Olive. And that’s when the star couldn’t stomach heartbreak anymore. After her young carefree days, the flapper seductress tried to change. Betty became a more wholesome homemaker to please her critics and ex-boyfriend, the muscle man, Fearless Freddie. But her attempt to become subdued ruined her career, so she left Fred and is still, to this day, a spinster.

CAREER: Betty Boop started out in 1930 as a dog, literally. Like most aspiring actress/singers, Betty got her floppy ears and poodle nose redone in 1931, and then her career took off! She became the star of “Talkartoon” and both adults and kids couldn’t get enough of the siren who squealed, “Boop Oop A Doop!” Of course, they definitely got more than an earful and an eyeful as Betty strutted around in skimpy outfits. While Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears may be known for showing off their bare assets, flapper Betty went panty-less and topless way back in the day! But sadly, with fashion swinging into the big band era, Betty had let go of her jazz age attraction to stay afloat. She was forced to move on with the times and clean up her act, no thanks to puritanical production codes. However, her attempts to soften her image ruined her sex appeal and she was relegated to bit parts. It wasn’t until the sexual revolution that Betty was resurrected as a symbol of sensuality and womanliness. But even back in starring roles like 1976’s bicentennial tribute, “Betty Boop For President,” she failed to capture the attention she once enjoyed in her trampy youth.

FRIENDS: Betty’s first friend was actually a dog named Bimbo. Originally used as his friend/foil, Betty was the Minnie to Bimbo’s Mickey and eventually out shined him. After Betty was given her own show, she had many co-stars: Van Twinkle, Percy, Van Hart, Van Velour, Van Arsdale, Von Script, and charismatic Koko the clown, who was a knock-off of Cab Calloway. But none ever became as popular as her frenemy, Pudgy the Pup. That adorable dog stole scenes with his mischievous antics and eventually Betty found herself playing second fiddle.

FUN FACTS:

  • Betty Boop was Fleischer Studios (Disney’s main rival) biggest starlet.
  • Betty Boop briefly had a drug problem in the mid-30′s. She loved laughing gas and the studio hid her secret shame. After being filmed helping herself to a tank full at the dentists, the footage was banned and buried until recently.
  • Designer Bob Mackie created an entire line based on the vamp’s glamour.
  • She once won a race powering her car with her orgasm in “Betty Boop’s Ker-choo!”
  • The Boop was only in color once — for a feature film entitled “Poor Cinderella.”
  • In her most recent role in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” Betty seem to question her sex appeal in the quake of full-color femme fatale Jessica Rabbit. But Detective Eddie Valiant tells her, she’s “still got it.”
  • Voiced by Mae Questel, who had previously made a career for herself as an impersonator of singer Helen Kane, Fleischer Studios was ultimately sued by Kane for stealing her shtick and giving it to the Boop.
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