Betty Boop: Dizzy Dishes


Previously entered as the first Betty Boop cartoons:


While there’s one more “first” Betty Boop to include, the above review of first appearances — of her character design, of the short-lived revision in the late 30s, of her character as someone named Betty Boop, of her as protagonist — brings me to the final of the really compelling “first Betty Boop cartoons”. This would be Dizzy Dishes, the 1930 short that’s credited as the original appearance of Betty Boop.

She’s not named, although come to it nobody in the cartoon really is. She’s also not the protagonist; she comes in at about two minutes forty seconds in, and spends a minute on-screen, as the waiter-protagonist gets distracted from his mission of delivering spot gags set in a cabaret. She sings, with the protagonist — usually identified as Bimbo, and I suppose that’s as good a name as any — taking some or all of her “boop-oop-a-doop” refrain from “I Have To Have You”.

Plot and characterization are not the primary focus of an early-30s Fleischer cartoon, which is why we never really get a clear answer why Bimbo is so reluctant about delivering the roast duck to the demanding customer, who looks to me like Disney’s Pegleg Pete, with a couple early hints of Bluto worked in. The Internet Movie Database claims the character is Gus Gorilla, which is believable enough, and that he’s voiced by William Costello, who would be the first animated voice of Popeye. Delivering six minutes or so worth of gags are the focus and that’s done fairly well with an opening string of demanding customers and Bimbo’s attempts to keep up (watch how he handles a demand to make two bowls of stew).

I hate to say it, but Betty Boop’s appearance slows the proceedings down, though they do recover their odd and occasionally nightmare-fuelish bent (the roast duck lays an egg! And it hatches!) soon enough. Soon enough Gus Gorilla loses his patience, and goes after Bimbo, and I am kind of on Gus’s side here. It all ends, as any great early-30s cartoon will, with a resolution that makes you go, “wait, what?”

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Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there.

12 thoughts on “Betty Boop: Dizzy Dishes”

    1. Yeah. It’s a funny look. I guess I can see where she was intended to be a dog at first glance, but even then she’s not so dog-like as, say, Gus is a gorilla.

      It occurs to me (belatedly) that Gus Gorilla was probably a stock character and that earlier cartoons might supply the missing motivation for Bimbo to not just give him his roast duck already. Maybe. Shall have to check the Fleischer back catalogue, if it can be found.

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  1. The song Betty Boop sings is I HAVE TO HAVE YOU, which I find interesting for several reasons: it was composed by Richard Whiting (lyrics by Leo Robin), one of my favorite song writers of that era; I have a late1929 78 rpm record of it sung by Annette Hanshaw, one of the best female vocalists of the late 1920s-early 1930s; and perhaps most pertinent here, it was one of the songs in the 1929 Paramount musical POINTED HEELS, starring Fay Wray, Wm. Powell (in his first starring role) and Helen Kane, the Boop-Boop-A-Doop Girl herself.

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    1. And thank you again for the insight into the song. It’s one that Betty Boop would sing a good bit, or at least it makes a strong impression, and I’m not sure how much of that is that the song’s pretty good and how much is that Helen Kane and Betty Boop did so well singing it.

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