Betty Boop the saucy soubrette of the 30s ends Hollywood's longest retirement - 45 years this month with a return to the screen. On March 20 the leggy Boop-Oop-a-Doop girl with the lacy garter fixed to her thigh stars in The Romance of Betty Boop, a half hour CBS-TV musical special. Betty of course is the Max Fleischer cartoon cutie who was preceded in animation fame by Felix the Cat and Mickey Mouse. Like them, too she became a comic strip. Unfortunately as in real life, sex symbols never enjoy the longevity of comedians. Betty, fashioned somewhat after "It" girl Clara Bow made her screen debut in 1930 and after 112 one-reel films was washed up by 1939.
In the course of her nine-year career. Betty's voice was provided by five different women. The first was Margie Hines, followed by Kate Wright, Bonnie Poe and Little Ann Little all in 1930. They copied the breathless squeaky style of vocalist Helen Kane a hot number of the 20s.
Mae Questel took over in 1931, she provided Betty's dialogue and singing voice until the buxom split curled, mini-dressed character was hounded into retirement. Desiree Goyette who supplies Betty's voice in the CBS special says Betty's premature disappearance from the nation's movie screens was brought about by pioneer feminists and blue noses who thought Miss Boop's sex appeal was a little heavy for pre-World War audiences.
"Betty was a product of the roaring 20s," said Goyette who has become an authority on Boop. "She got away with murder with her sexy winks, slinky walk, garter and macro-mini skirt. She was just too provocative for kids."
"She actually began as a cute little dog, the girlfriend of a cartoon dog named Bimbo. Then her ears became earrings and she was made human. Betty was made less sexy in her last few years after parents objected to her style. Eventually she became a goody two shoes and that was the end of her, although she continued in the comics and a radio show titled Betty Boop Fables."
"I grew up watching Betty Boop reruns on TV. My mother used to sing Betty's song "I Want to Be Loved By You," Then one of my idols Debbie Reynolds sang it in the movie Three Little Words when I was 9.
"I mimicked Debbie and discovered later that she was imitating Helen Kane who had inspired Betty's voice in the first place. When Betty makes her TV debut this month she will be in good hands the same team that produces Charlie Brown and Garfield specials.