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The Phenomena Of Betty Boop

Aug 18, 2007
Betty Boop, with her cartoon sensuality, coupled with a wide eyed innocent persona, was a woman who was not meant to be put down by her cartoon male counterparts; instead she was an early representative of feminism during the early part of the 1930s. Betty Boop evolved from a character that began as a cabaret singer sidekick to Bimbo, a dog. She was originally a canine herself. It was around 1932 that her floppy dog ears were changed to big, hoop earrings, and she was the first character that was female, that was not depicted as a stick figure.

Instead, Betty Boop wore chic high heeled pumps, had a little girl voice to accompany her baby face, and an air of independence coupled with womanly charms. Max Fleisher Studios created Bimbo first to compete with the rising popularity of the Walt Disney studios cute animals, namely Mickey Mouse. After Betty began her breakout role as a human being, Bimbo still stayed around as her beau, though he was still her dog. Betty Boop had a hypnotic and unique effect in that she was able to fend off lecherous predators while she kept a degree of naivet.

In one famous cartoon, her boss demands of her, "Do you like your job!" as he stroked her thigh. She is first caught off guard, but then she becomes angry and responds with her famous line "don't take my Boop-Oop-A-Doop away." The reason many feel that Betty Boop seemed to be more than a mere cartoon character, more of a flesh and blood woman, was because the men who created her worked and lived in New York in the infamous Times Square district, and began studying the women around them who were part of "the oldest profession in the world."

Betty was a real mover and shaker in the world. She featured many black jazz players on her show because of her love for jazz music. The studio got threats from the KKK regarding this, but with guest stars that included Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Ethel Merman, Rudy Vallee and Maurice Chevalier, it didn't seem to faze the creators or the studio one bit.

It wasn't long before there were Boopsters worldwide that were singing the praises of this spunky little cartoon lady. In America and the UK, there was a resurgence of her appeal as the Fleisher cartoons were re-released in the 1970s. She is as famous in the new century as she was in the last, and memorabilia with her name and image can be found just about everywhere.

Betty found new fans when in 1984 the group Van Halen mentioned her name in one of their songs and later the Rolling Stones featured her in a collage of women who were desirable in a video for their tour promotions for the "Voodoo Lounge" tour.

You can find shirts, mugs, lamps, calendars and figurines that feature Betty Boop as well as her sidekick Bimbo. You can find the original cartoons that made her famous re-mastered for today's new technologies. Betty's legacy to women is still going as strong today as when she first appeared so many years ago.
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