Another key element to these cartoons that captured audience's attention was the music. Unlike the sweeter, orchestral music found in the Disney and MGM cartoons, Fleischer leaned towards a stronger jazz beat. Such hot acts like Cab Calloway (MINNIE THE MOOCHER) and Louis Armstrong (I'LL BE GLAD WHEN YOU'RE DEAD YOU RASCAL YOU) heated up the sound track.
The last cartoon where Betty was able to flash her panties at the audience was the 1934 BETTY IN BLUNDERLAND where the cut flapper falls into the world of Lewis Carroll's Wonderland. In 1934, the Production Code took effect. Concerned citizens were outraged by the low moral behavior and sexual suggestiveness portrayed in movies. Even cartoons could not escape their righteous wrath. Betty's 1934 outing, RED HOT MAMA, was rejected by the British Board of Censors and was not allowed to be screened in England.
The Flesichers couldn't make money from cartoons that couldn't be screened so Betty was transformed. Yards of fabric were added to the top and bottom of her dress. Her wild animal friends and surreal stories disappeared along with her clevage.
What so many male admirers had failed to do previously was accomplished with amazing swiftness as Betty's innocent sexuality and "boop-boop-a-doop" were taken away to be replaced with the new personality of a conservative young homemaker. To complete the process, Betty was given a cute puppy named Pudgy, a human boyfriend named Fred, an eccentric but loveable grandfather named Grampy and a kid brother named Billy Boop.
In SWAT THAT FLY (1935), Betty is now a simple minded but good hearted single girl who is in her kitchen preparing to bake when she and Pudgy must do battle with an annoying fly. It was typical of the domestic situation comedy plots that would now become the basis of the remainder of the series.
Now that Betty had become so dull, the studio concentrated on her supporting characters like Grampy. Thanks to his thinking cap (a graduation mortar board with a light bulb on top), he was able to devise a vast array of Rube Goldberg like inventions. Naturally, some of these useful gadgets backfired unexpectedly.
The character of Popey made his first animated appearance in a Betty Boop cartoon entitled POPEYE THE SAILOR (1933) and was spun off into a highly successful series of cartoons. Now, Betty Boop cartoons were being used again as a springboard to showcase other possible comic strip characters like Carl Anderson's Henry, Jimmy Swinerton's Little Jimmy and Otto Soglow's The Little King. Teaming these characters with the new Betty proved disastrous and the Fleischers abandoned plans to develop the character any further.
Betty suffered through the next few years saddled with a muscular but oddly effeminate young man named Freddie who was supposedly her boyfriend and who appeared usually in the role or a lifeguard or a soldier and with a highly active kid brother named Billy who showed up to get into cute scrapes. These characters were a far cry from the earlier supporting cast of KoKo the Clown, Bimbo and Gus Gorilla.
In 1939, one of Betty's last appearances was in MUSICAL MOUNTAINEERS where after running out of gas, she is befriended by a grotesque looking group of hillbillies who help her out with some of their potent moonshine. Betty's dancing in this cartoon lacks the sensual wiggling that was her trademark in the pre-1934 cartoons. The last official Betty Boop cartoon, YIP YIP YIPPY (August 1939) doesn't even feature Betty!
There were many reasons that the Fleischers cancelled the Betty Boop series. There was obviously waning public interest in the new domesticated Betty and it was becoming increasingly difficult (as it would later become for a domesticated Mickey Mouse) to come up with stories for the bland character. Also, at this time, the Fleischers moved their studio to Florida and decided to concentrate all their efforts and available manpower on their first animated feature GULLIVER'S TRAVELS (1939) which they hoped would match Disney's success with SNOW WHITE. Mae Questel's refusal to relocate to Florida may also have contributed to the decision. Because of the failure of the two Fleischer animated features, Paramount took control of the Fleischer studio and saw no reason to revive the character.
When the pre-1948 Paramount cartoons were syndicated on local stations in the late Fifties, the Betty Boop cartoons were syndicated on local television stations. By the mid-Sixties, these black and white cartoons suffered the fate of many other non-color cartoons by disappearing from a television landscape that was becoming exclusively devoted to color.
However, Betty Boop was being re-discovered by the hippie generation of the late Sixties who loved the classic comedians who were wild and disrupted society. The heroes of this love generation were W.C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, and the very sexy and weird cartoons of Betty Boop. (Like Disney's FANTASIA, this new audience was discovering that Betty's wild Fleischer antics were a perfect accompaniment to the taking of drugs which enhanced perceptions.)
National Telefilm Associates (NTA) who had acquired the rights to the Betty Boop cartoons saw from their rentals that Betty was still attracting attention on colleges. Sensing a new market, they had the original black and white cartoon shorts "colorized" by the primitive process of shipping the cartoons to Korea where they were traced frame by frame and the tracings then hand painted in color.
Using this method, not only was detail lost with many drawings skipped and backgrounds simplified but there were ridiculous color errors including a bright purple wolf in DIZZY RED RIDING HOOD (1931). NTA easily recouped their minimal investment to colorize the cartoons but these colorized efforts did little if anything to increase Betty's popularity.
IVY Films put together a compilation feature of the original black and white cartoons called THE BETTY BOOP SCANDALS OF 1974. Besides such classic cartoons as BIMBO'S INITIATION and MINNIE THE MOOCHER, the compilation also included the first chapter of the BUCK ROGERS serial and some live action comedy shorts. The film was moderately successful in theaters but again became extremely successful on college campuses. A soundtrack album was even released.
NTA still wanted to cash in on their property so in 1976, they approached producer Dan Dalton with the proposal of editing a compilation feature of the colorized shorts to tie-in with the upcoming presidential election. Originally announced as BETTY BOOP FOR PRESIDENT, by the time the feature was completed nearly four years later it had been retitled HURRAY FOR BETTY BOOP.
The completed film uses excerpts from thirty-five different Betty Boop shorts ending with the 1932 short, BETTY BOOP FOR PRESIDENT. Throughout the film, the Devil in a variety of disguises tries to prevent Betty from winning the presidential election. Victoria D'Orazi redubbed Betty's voice and Tommy Smothers of the Smothers Brothers narrated the story as Pudgy the Pup. There were new songs recorded by Debby Boone and the Association which were included in the final soft rock soundtrack.
Dalton, along with some other writers, wrote new dialog for the film but made no effort to match these new words with the previously animated mouth movements. There were some attempts at being topical like when Betty cleans the kitchen and moans "Are you sure Carter started this way?, a reference to President Jimmy Carter.
New Line Cinema, which distributed the film, spent a minimum of $50,000 on promotion. New York publicist Alan Abel was hired to run a "Betty Boop for President" campaign. The campaign included supporters picketing the Democratic convention in New York. Boop campaign slogans were painted on New York sidewalks and walls. Victoria D'Orazi, the new voice of Betty, toured the country in a Betty Boop costume. This often caused some confusion because of the then current plans to develop a Broadway musical about Betty Boop (with rumors that actress Bernadette Peters would play the part as she did in a skit on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE). People were unclear what all this Boop publicity was supposed to be promoting. The film, after a limited series of theatrical bookings, recouped its cost finally by being sold to cable television.