Betty Boop made her debut on this date in 1930 in the animated film “Dizzy Dishes.” She was the creation of Max Fleischer (1883-1972), a Galitzianer immigrant whose pioneering animations brought Koko the Clown, Popeye, and Superman to the screen, among many other characters. He and his brother Dave patented the Rotoscope in 1915, a device that allowed animators to trace frames of live action film; they invented the “follow the bouncing ball” singalong technique; and they introduced live-action scenes in their cartoons, including footage of Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, and other African-American jazz greats. The Fleischer Brothers went head-to-head with Disney studios for the hearts of America in the 1930s. Their cartoons were exquisitely realistic as well as surrealistic, full of dark humor, sexuality, dreamscapes, psychedelic transformations, and gritty settings, and their use of music was operatic (especially in Popeye cartoons) and hyperkinetic.
“It’s futile to be brutal./ That won’t get you a dime./ So be human all the time.” —Betty Boop, “Be Human” (1936)
Watch a Betty Boop medley and Cab Calloway in “Minnnie the Moocher”: