The People v. Betty Boop

One after another, voice actors appeared before the judge. This was no ordinary courtroom testimony—they were there to squeak Betty Boop’s signature “boop-boop-a-doop.” It was 1934, and Betty Boop was on trial. The cartoon vixen was an unlikely candidate for a lawsuit—and for popularity. She “was never intended to be a continuing character,” says animation historian Ray Pointer, author of The Art and Inventions of Max Fleischer . In fact, the original 1932 version of Betty Boop, created by Fleischer Studios, wasn’t even human. Rather, she was a talking, singing French poodle with long, floppy ears. But soon, Betty’s ears became earrings and she was reinvented as a human being. The new Betty Boop was a vivacious flapper who drove a car, did popular dances and showed plenty of skin. Her wide eyes and sexy looks were a hit with audiences—as was the fact that she was a clear parody of popular singer Helen Kane. The squeaky-voiced jazz singer was known for her sexy lyrics and baby-like singing, and Betty Boop delivered a spot-on imitation. Kane’s delivery—including her signature “boop-boop-a-doop”—was “a theatrical staple going back years,” says Pointer. Like the vaudeville performers that preceded her, Kane used her little-girl […]

© 2017, Moderator. All rights reserved.