Betty, you cunning' little Boop-a-dooper.
Betty, you won my heart.
Betty, you knock me for a loop-de-looper.
Betty, each time you start.
(Lyrics from Betty Boop's Big Boss, 1933)
Out of the fertile pen of cartoonist Max Fleischer came the first sexy female cartoon character, Betty Boop. During the Depression, everyone was looking for a laugh and the flapperesque Betty was there to provide it. Mae Questral is fondly remembered as the main "voice" of the unflappable flapper with the charming baby style speech. Despite her diminutive vocals, Betty donned short skirts, high heels and a revealing cleavage showing bodice and a very sexy garter. (According to Fleischer, Betty was 16.) When the Decency Code went into effect in 1934, Betty's demeanor underwent an upgrade, thus lessening her appeal to adult audiences and relegating her to the cartoon set.
If you want to see the real Betty, check out her suggestive winks and shaking hips at www.bettyboopoons.com
These cartoons are organized by year, so start with the pre-code years. In 1933 she rocked the boat with her topless, native hula in Betty Boop's Bamboo Hut. In the 1932, Stopping the Show, Betty impersonates vaudeville stars, while Fleischer provides a parody of politicians in a newsreel form Fountain, Penn. Fans of Cab Calloway will like Minnie the Moocher, which is really a dark and scary adventure where Betty meets up with demons and witches. Ha!Ha!Ha! (1934) features Koko (clown) with a bad toothache. Betty comes to the rescue with laughing gas. For some reason, this cartoon was banned for substance abuse.Don't give up on the later cartoons, The Candid Candidate features Grampy running for Mayor. When elected he is faced with lots of demands. "There's not enough bathing girls on the beach. Do something, or we'll impeach."
Women will appreciate poor Betty's problems. In the days before sexual harassment was a crime, Betty was constantly receiving unwanted attentions by men. Whether peeking up her dress or trying to catch her changing clothes, life was a challenge. Of course, the holiday card featuring her in bed with Santa hardly enhanced her image, but we can blame that one on Max. She fought off being tied up and dragged to the bedroom, and a lascivious boss who threatened to fire her if she didn't submit. Fortunately, according to Betty, "he couldn't take my boop-oop-a-doop away."