Who is Betty Boop?
Betty Boop is perhaps one of the most celebrated cartoon characters of all time. The sexy, breathy, independent Betty (created by Max Fleisher in the 1930′s) made her debut in Dizzy Dishes, a cartoon made by Paramount Pictures as a talking French Poodle. In true animation spirit, however, by her next appearance she had morphed from a poodle into a curvaceous girl with big dark eyes and a little miss innocence voice.
The woman/girl version of Betty Boop was a caricature of singer Helen Kane though the voice was first ‘done’ by Margie Hines, though later episodes would be voiced by a number of actresses, most notable of whom was Mae Questel; the Boop mistress who began voicing the part in 1931 and continued the character until she died in 1998. Today’s Betty Boop is performed by Tress MacNeille in cartoons and Tara Strong when presented in commercials.
A Short History of Betty Boop Character Licensing
Originally all the rights to the character were owned exclusively by Paramount Pictures. While the character was very popular and Paramount Pictures was very happy with its sales, the National Legion of Decency combined with the Production Code of 1934 severely altered the content of the Betty Boop cartoons. While she had originally been innocently sexual and the cartoon had been rife with sexual innuendos, the 1934 Production Code called for stricter alterations, and the popularity of the character began to decline a bit as she became more ‘societal acceptable.’ Finally in 1955 the 110 appearances she had made in cartoons to that date were sold by Paramount Pictures and bought by a television syndicator by the name of UM&M TV Corporation. A year later UM&M was bought out by National Telefilm Associates (NTA) which later reorganized to become Republic Pictures during the 1980′s an organization currently a subsidiary of Viacom who is (wait for it) the parent company of Paramount Pictures. Betty Boop has come home.
The recent revival of Betty Boop interest in the last three decades has increased the value of the cartoon and merchandising licenses with great numbers of products bearing her image as well as VHS and DVD reproductions of all of the original and more recent cartoons featuring the stunning Ms. Boop.
Currently the license for the cartoons (as reproduced in movies) rests with Lionsgate Home Entertainment under a license from Republic. The television rights are held by Trifecta. Interestingly enough, however, it is the merchandising license (originated by Max Fleischer’s heirs and currently owned by Fleischer Studios) that have garnered the most income and recognition, for you see her everywhere; on T-shirts and mugs and handbags; winking and slinking and being innocently seductive, an unexpected and unplanned American Icon.
Post time: 12-25-2017