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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

Betty Boop Debuts on This Day in 1930

Classic black and white cartoon character, Betty Boop, debuted in Max Fleischer's animated cartoon Dizzy Dishes on this day in 1930. One of the most popular cartoon characters of all time, Betty Boop's first appearance was in an installment of Fleischer's "Talkartoon" series. First imagined as a poodle with big floppy ears and a black button nose, the animated flapper soon spun off into her own cartoon series, comic strips and films with a make over into a sexy-cute flapper girl. Today, she is considered to be the first animated sex symbol and is recognized throughout the world.

Betty Boop was the star of a series of animated shorts that aired in movie theaters throughout the 30s and 40s. Some say the best of Betty's animations are the ones created in the early years when the artists were free to experiment in whatever darkly psychedelic and surreal ways they could, ending up with wildly bizarre and chaotically structured stories. These are darker-toned rich animations that capture something awesome, magical and beautiful in an artfully twisted and offbeat way.

In the later years Betty Boop was joined by a new character, Pudgy a some what annoying puppy. Coincidentally, Betty Boop became more conservatively-dressed (probably at the demand of the censors of the time). Betty's adventures become diluted and she wasn't the same character anymore. Gone was the giggly naïveté and innocent sexiness where she and her two friends Koko and Bimbo found themselves lost in chaotic situations. That's the Betty that everyone remembers, and it's that image that's endured as an iconic cartoon image for many years.

Betty Boop enjoyed a bit of a comeback in 1988 when she performed a cameo in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Bob Hoskins' character, Eddie Valiant dislikes all toons. But when he sees Betty at the Ink and Paint Club speakeasy, she's the only toon he has a nostalgic respect for and he tells her that she's "still got it". And indeed she does. She's endured as a beloved image of an era of animation of the past, one that has delights audiences even to this day. Proving that one should never underestimate the power of a charmingly ditzy dame.

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