What Song Was That in the Betty Boop Cartoon ‘Bimbo’s Initiation’?


Until recently I would have said the very catchy song about “Wanna Be A Member”, centerpiece of the Talkartoon “Bimbo’s Initiation”, was made for the short. I mean if you had asked me. Or if we had a relationship where you expected me to come offer my uninformed opinions about Talkartoons. For example, if you were reading my thoughts about the short. But I should have known better about the music. This got brought to my attention:

I’m delighted to learn the extremely catchy tune has an existence outside the short. The Twitter thread there also links to another 1919 performance, one that ties the tune to Theda Bara. That’s again a name I would not have thought of for the tune, but which I should have. Theda Bara was one of the big sex symbols of the last decade of silent movies, mostly in roles of the exotic, seductive master of the scene. (Unfortunately only a half-dozen of her films are known to still exist.) This connection must reinforce the role Betty Boop plays in the short, even though the music starts before we ever see her. I’m delighted to be able to share something new about this cartoon.

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