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Frame by Frame

The History of Betty Boop

Click on this link, or the image above, to view Betty Boop Snow White (1933)

Here’s a great video piece on the history of the iconic Depression-era cartoon character Betty Boop, from the WatchMojo site, which has numerous intresting film history videos. Watch it here, and then go over to this link to watch Betty Boop M.D. (1932), for the full experience.

Betty Boop cartoons are very, very different from their Disney or Warner Bros. counterparts; for one thing, they were all made in New York (a few in Florida towards the end of the 1930s, when the Fleischer studios moved there to escape the New York winters, and wound up going bankrupt instead); for another, they mirrored the difficulties of the Depression; yet another difference was that they regularly used important African-American musicians of the era, such as Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong and others to provide the music tracks for their cartoons, when the other animation studios refused to do so; and finally, they have a savagely surreal bent, which has to be seen to be believed.

Betty Boop ended her run in 1939, essentially, as the video notes, a victim of the 1934 Production Code, but her cartoons are legendary and absolutely unique; required viewing.


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About the Author

Wheeler Winston Dixon

Wheeler Winston Dixon, Ryan Professor of Film Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is an internationally recognized scholar and writer of film history, theory and criticism. He is the author of thirty books and more than 100 articles on film, and appears regularly in national media outlets discussing film and culture trends. Frame by Frame is a collection of his thoughts on a number of those topics. All comments by Dixon on this blog are his own opinions. To contact Prof. Dixon for an interview, reach him at or

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