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Betty Boop is an animated cartoon character created by Max Fleischer, with help from animators including Grim Natwick. She originally appeared in the Talkartoon and Betty Boop film series, which were produced by Fleischer Studios and released by Paramount Pictures. She was featured in 90 theatrical cartoons between 1930 and 1939. She has also been featured in comic strips and m.a.s.s merchandising.


A caricature of a Jazz Age flapper, Betty Boop was described in a 1934 court case as "combining in appearance the childish with the sophisticated—a large round baby face with big eyes and a nose like a button, framed in a somewhat careful coiffure, with a very small body of which perhaps the leading characteristic is the most self-confident little bust imaginable". Although she was toned down in the mid-1930s as a result of the Hays Code to appear more demure, she became one of the world's best-known and most popular cartoon characters.


Betty Boop made her first appearance in the cartoon Dizzy Dishes, released on August 9, 1930, the seventh installment in Fleischer's Talkartoon series. Inspired by a popular performing style, but not by any one specific person, the character was originally created as an anthropomorphic French poodle.  Clara Bow is often given credit as being the inspiration for Boop, though Fleischer told his artists that he wanted a caricature of singer Helen Kane, who performed in a style shared by many performers of the day–Kane was also the one who sued Fleischer over the signature "Boop Oop a Doop" line.  Betty Boop appeared as a supporting character in ten cartoons as a flapper girl with more heart than brains. In individual cartoons, she was called "Nancy Lee" or "Nan McGrew"—derived from the Helen Kane film Dangerous Nan McGrew (1930)—usually serving as a girlfriend to studio star Bimbo.


Within a year, Betty made the transition from an incidental human-canine breed to a completely human female character. While much credit has been given to Grim Natwick for helping to transition Max Fleischer's creation, her transition into the cute cartoon girl was also in part due to the work of Berny Wolf, Otto Feuer, Seymour Kneitel, "Doc" Crandall, Willard Bowsky, and James "Shamus" Culhane.  By the release of Any Rags, Betty Boop was forever established as a human character. Her floppy poodle ears became hoop earrings, and her black poodle nose became a girl's button-like nose.


Betty was first voiced by Margie Hines. Later, several different voice actresses performed the role, including Kate Wright, Bonnie Poe, Ann Rothschild (also known as Little Ann Little), and especially Mae Questel, who began voicing Betty Boop in Bimbo's Silly Scandals (1931), and continued with the role until 1939, returning nearly 50 years later in Disney's Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). Today, Betty is voiced by Sandy Fox and Cindy Robinson.


Although Betty's first name was a.s.s.umed to have been established in the 1931 Screen Songs cartoon Betty Co-ed, this "Betty" is a different character, which the official Betty Boop website describes as a "prototype" of Betty Boop. At least 12 Screen Songs cartoons featured Betty Boop or a similar character.


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.


Since the character was created by an Austrian Jew and eventually voiced by a Jewish actress, Mae Questel, animation fans sometimes try to pinpoint various aspects that hint at Betty's Jewishness. The 1932 Talkartoon Minnie the Moocher featured the one and only appearance of Betty's parents: a strict immigrant couple, who get upset that Betty does not want to eat the traditional German foods hasenpfeffer (rabbit stew) and sauerbraten. Benjamin Ivry of Forward, says that any of this evidence is ambiguous, as these are not kosher foods, and the accents of the parents are comical German accents, rather than Jewish.


Betty appeared in the first "Color Cla.s.s.ic" cartoon Poor Cinderella, her only theatrical color appearance in 1934. In the film, she was depicted with red hair as opposed to her typical black hair.




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