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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Betty Boop in restored 1932 "Minnie the Moocher"





Betty Boop made her first appearance on August 9, 1930, in the cartoon "Dizzy Dishes"; the sixth installment in Fleischer's Talkartoon series. Although Clara Bow is often given as being the model for Boop, she actually began as a caricature of singer Helen Kane. The eight Talkartoons that followed all starred Betty, leading her into her own series beginning in 1932. With the release of "Stopping the Show" (August 1932), the Talkartoons were replaced by the Betty Boop series, which continued for the next seven years.

Max Fleischer finalized Betty Boop as a human character in 1932, in the cartoon "Any Rags". Her floppy poodle ears became hoop earrings, and her black poodle nose became a girl's button-like nose. Betty Boop appeared as a supporting character in 10 cartoons as a flapper girl with more heart than brains.

Betty Boop was the star of the Talkartoons by 1932 and was given her own series that same year, beginning with Stopping the Show. From that point on, she was crowned "The Queen of the Animated Screen." The series was popular throughout the 1930s, lasting until 1939.
Betty Boop is regarded as one of the first and most famous sex symbols on the animated screen; she is a symbol of the Depression era, and a reminder of the more carefree days of Jazz Age flappers. Her popularity was drawn largely from adult audiences, and the cartoons, while seemingly surreal, contained many sexual and psychological elements, particularly in the "Talkartoon," "Minnie the Moocher", featuring Cab Calloway and his orchestra. "Minnie the Moocher" defined Betty's character as a teenager of a modern era, at odds with the old world ways of her parents. In the cartoon, after a disagreement with her parents, Betty runs away from home, accompanied by her boyfriend Bimbo, only to get lost in a haunted cave. A ghostly walrus (rotoscoped from live-action footage of Calloway), sings Calloway's famous song "Minnie the Moocher", accompanied by several other ghosts and skeletons. This haunting performance sends the frightened Betty and Bimbo back to the safety of home. "Minnie the Moocher" served as a promotion for Calloway's subsequent stage appearances and also established Betty Boop as a cartoon star.

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