Anyone who knows me is aware that I am a big fan of cartoon pin-up Betty Boop! So imagine my excitement when I came across a picture of sexy lass adorning the nose of a Hercules C130 in Iraq. On further research it appears that the wide-eyed lovely has been to about 4 wars…the girl sure does get around!
Betty Boop has been a favorite of children and adults alike since her creation by Max Fleischer in 1930. She began life as a caricature of a 30’s jazz singer though was toned down mid-century to appear more demure. She was described in a 1934 court case as “combining in appearance the childish with the sophisticated — a large round baby face with big eyes and a nose like a button, framed in a somewhat careful coiffure, with a very small body of which perhaps the leading characteristic is the most self-confident little bust imaginable.” Such a beautiful description of a titillating character. Although many report that the she was based on actress Clara Bow, and one can see how this misinformation could have come about, she sure does how the Clara pout…she was in fact based on singer Helen Kane. Though Kane was not actually happy about it and bought a law suit against Fleischer stating that the “deliberate caricature” that produced “unfair competition” exploited her personality and image, she did not win the lawsuit! Betty began as a flapper girl, known more for her beauty and charms than her brains however as she branched out into her own starring roles rather than the supportive ones her character became more rounded. She is possibly one of the most adored and recognised cartoon characters in the world.
(An early cartoon)
She became a sex symbol in her own right with her sexualised image and at times risqué outfits. In Minnie the Moocher she was described as a teenager for the modern era, at odds with the personality and opinions of her parents generation. She allowed women to feel free to express themselves without being gaudy. She epitomised the flapper generation, the world of the pretty young things.
It is no wonder that boys on the front chose the image of the ‘Boop -oop-a-doop’ girl to adorn their aircraft. She is an icon in her own right and must have giving the boys a sense of home, of history and of comfort.
(Mirage 2000B EC 2/5 sports a sitting Boop on its inspection hatch on the fuselage)
(What miss Boop would possibly look like from behind, seen here on a Dakota)