Betty Boop - Current Status

Current Status

Betty Boop's films found a new audience when Paramount sold them for syndication in 1955. U.M.&M. and National Telefilm Associates were required to remove the original Paramount logo from the opening and closing as well as any references to Paramount in the copyright line on the main titles. However, the mountain motif remains on some television prints, usually with a U.M.&M. copyright line, while recent versions have circulated with the Paramount-Publix reference in cartoons from 1931.

The original "Betty Boop" cartoons were in black and white. As newer product made for television began to appear, her cartoons were soon retired, particularly with the general proliferation of color television in the 1960s. Betty's film career saw a major revival in the release of "The Betty Boop Scandals of 1974," and became a part of the post 1960s counterculture movement. NTA attempted to capitalize on this with a new syndication package, but there was no market for cartoons in black and white. As an answer, they had them cheaply remade in Korea, but were unable to sell them due largely to sloppy production that belied the quality of the originals. Unable to sell them to television, they assembled a number of the color cartoons in compilation feature titled Betty Boop for President to capitalize on the 1976 election, but it saw no major theatrical release. It resurfaced in 1981 on HBO under the title Hurray for Betty Boop.

It was the advent of home video that created an appreciation for films in their original versions, and Betty was rediscovered again in Beta and VHS versions. The ever expanding cable television industry saw the creation of American Movie Classics, which showcased a selection of the original black and white "Betty Boop" cartoons in the 1990s, which led to an eight volume VHS and LV set, "Betty Boop, the Definitive Collection." To date, no official DVD releases have been made in spite of the tremendous interest. In spite of this, the Internet Archive currently hosts 22 Betty Boop cartoons that are public domain.

Marketers rediscovered Betty Boop in the 1980s, and "Betty Boop" merchandise has far outdistanced her exposure in films, with many not aware of her as a cinematic creation. Much of this current merchandise features the character in her popular, sexier form, and has become popular worldwide once again. The 1980s, rapper, Betty Boo (whose voice, image and name were influenced by the cartoon character) rose to popularity in the UK largely due to the "Betty Boop" revival.

There were brief returns to the theatrical screen. In 1988, Betty appeared after a 50 year absence with a cameo in the Academy Award-winning film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. In 1993, producers Steven Paul Leiva ("Space Jam") and Jerry Rees, best known for writing and directing The Brave Little Toaster, began production on a new Betty Boop feature film for The Zanuck Company and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The script by Rees detailed Betty's rise in Hollywood in the Golden Age of Hollywood. It was to be a musical with music and lyrics by jazzman Bennie Wallace. Wallace had completed several songs and seventy-five percent of the film had been storyboarded, when, two weeks before voice recording was to begin with Bernadette Peters as Betty, the head of MGM, Alan Ladd, Jr., was replaced by Frank Mancuso, and the project was abandoned.

Ownership of the Boop cartoons has changed hands over the intervening decades due to a series of corporate mergers, acquisitions and divestitures (mainly involving Republic Pictures and the 2006 corporate split of parent company Viacom into two separate companies). As of 2008, Lions Gate Home Entertainment (under license from Paramount) holds home video rights and Trifecta retains television rights. The "Betty Boop" character and trademark is currently owned by Fleischer Studios, with the merchandising rights licensed to King Features Syndicate.

The Betty Boop series continues to be a favorite of many critics, and the 1933 Betty Boop cartoon Snow White (not to be confused with Disney's 1937 film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) was selected for preservation by the U.S. Library of Congress in the National Film Registry in 1994. Betty Boop's popularity continues well into present day culture, with references appearing in the comic strip Doonesbury, where the character B.D.'s busty girlfriend/wife is named "Boopsie" and the animated reality TV spoof Drawn Together, where Betty is the inspiration for Toot Braunstein. A Betty Boop musical is in development for Broadway, with music by David Foster.

Betty was parodied on Animaniacs in "Girl With The Googily Goop", with the Boop character called "Googy". The episode, which was made predominantly in black-and-white and has not been released on DVD, is also a parody of Red Riding Hood, with the girl having to go to her grandma's house and ending up being kidnapped.

In 2010, Betty Boop became the official fantasy cheerleader for the upstart United Football League. She will also be featured in merchandise targeted towards the league's female demographic.

According to Playbill.com, a musical based on Betty Boop is "in the works", with music by David Foster and book by Oscar Williams and Sally Robinson. No dates, theatre or cast are listed.

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