Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Betty Boop's 80th birthday was yesterday, August 9. She first appeared in the video "Dizzy Dishes", which was a 6 minute 6 second cartoon in which she appeared for a little over a minute. Anyone who watched her at the time was reminded of the famous singer Helen Kane (I Wanna Be Loved By You) and the film star Clara Bow. The early days of cartoons were far more free wheeling, with raciness and double entendre accepted far more than they were towards the mid 1930's, when the film industry cracked down on any sort of immodesty.
In 1930, when "talkies" were still fairly young, no one really realised how far they would go. A lot of Jews gravitated to the fledgling film and cartoon industry. If you look closely at the opening part of "Dizzy Dishes", one of the waiters throws a slab of meat at an annoying customer with the word "kosher" in Hebrew letters clearly stamped on one side. Additionally, the same waiter is scolded in Yiddish by a customer as he is working in the kitchen.
Betty Boop later on launched the career of Popeye, who first appeared in a Betty Boop cartoon. Like other cartoon characters at the time, Boop evolved in appearance both in her attire and her physical features. changing from racy clothing and floppy ears to mor modest fashions and hoop earrings.
Classic cartoons are often experienced on one level by children and on another level by an adult audience. Betty Boop clearly fits into this category. Happy birthday Betty. And many thanks to your creators, animator Grim Natwick and Max Fleischer.
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