ANIMATION ANECDOTES
November 8, 2013 posted by Jim Korkis

Animation Anecdotes # 135

betty_hooray300The “Hurray for Betty Boop” Story – Part One. Record producer Dan Dalton took scenes from thirty-five Korean colored Betty Boop cartoons and wrote a continuity for them to make a feature titled Hurray for Betty Boop (1980). He used clips lasting thirty seconds to five minutes. The storyline was Betty working through a variety of jobs on her way to run for President. Along the way, the Devil in a variety of forms pops up to try to stop her and claim her soul.

“I knew I was going to start with ‘Minnie the Moocher’ (the scene in which Betty is admonished by her father) and would end with the short ‘Betty Boop for President’ (1932). The problem was finding a suitable middle.” While Dalton reluctantly admitted to bringing on other writers, he insisted the film is “all my work. The film is pretty much my baby.” Besides writing the storyline and additional dialog, he wrote most of a new soundtrack mixed in with Cab Calloway tunes from the original shorts.

Part Two. In the mid-1970s National Telefilm Associates sent a collection of Betty Boop cartoons to Korea where they were sloppily traced and colored. The color choices were curious including painting the wolf in “Dizzy Red Riding Hood” (1931) a bright purple. Not being able to find a syndication market for these cartoons, they were used in the feature film compilation entitled “Hurray for Betty Boop”. Originally titled “Betty Boop For President” and intended for a 1976 release to tie-in with the Presidential campaign, the film was delayed until the next campaign in 1980.

New York Publicist Alan Abel had supporters picket the Democratic Convention in New York demanding that Betty be put on the ticket. Campaign slogans in support of Betty were painted on sidewalks and walls. Victoria D’Orazi toured the country in a Betty Boop costume. D’Orazi was selected as the new voice of Betty in the feature compilation because it was felt by New Line Cinema that Mae Questel’s voice was inappropriate for the new songs that were included.

Part Three. Dalton firmly asserted in 1982 that the failure of the film to receive a theatrical release was due to New Line’s lack of aggressive promotion. The New York activities “didn’t connect to the film”. The film was shown on cable in 1981. Dalton received $10,000 for his work on the film and owned forty percent of the film. “It’s a great children’s movie, a great doper’s movie, a great midnight movie. Everyone said I couldn’t do it and to keep the continuity. It was difficult,” Dalton told Fleischer authority Michael Dobbs.

Dalton announced he was currently working on “Everything’s Going to Pot” that would include “doper music from the 1930s” over scenes from the era’s marijuana exploitation movies and some Fleischer animation. “National Telefilms Associates like (“Mr. Bug Goes to Town”) but they don’t like the sound and have been thinking of beefing up the sound by adding new music,” said Dalton who was against losing the music of Hoagy Carmichael in particular. Other music was supplied by Frank Loesser and Leigh Harline.



Gulliver’s Troubles. In 1967, John Hubley was working on a combination live-action/animation feature to be called “Gulliver’s Troubles”. It was to be a “very loose adaptation of Swift’s classic,” claimed Hubley who added that the story dealt “with the discovery of gold on another planet and the race for it from Earth. It’s told from Gulliver’s point of view, but it’s lighthearted and not as pessimistic as Swift.” Hubley was also working on developing six other animated features at the time. Faith Hubley once told me that his dream was to direct an animated feature.

A Great Story. While it is amazing to hear from people who actually worked in the Golden Age of Animation, as an animation historian I know I can’t always trust their oral accounts despite them being entirely sincere. Often, chronological references are not accurate. Other times, the person may be unaware of the contributions of others to a project or may have a personal agenda. Keeping that in mind, there are some great stories that I wish I could verify.

Fleischer expert Michael Dobbs once told me of a story he had been told by Edith Vernick, a woman who had worked at the Fleischer Studio for over twenty years. Once the studio was relocated to Florida, she and two other employees were told to meet Walt Disney at the Miami airport because he was on vacation and wanted to visit the studio.

In the airport bar, Disney supposedly shared that he was going through some tough financial times and asked them if they would talk to Max Fleischer about investing or purchasing the Disney Studio. Of course, at the time Fleischer was struggling financially as well and within a year or two would be forced out of his own company.

As odd as this story may sound, remember that before the release of “Mary Poppins”, the rumor in the entertainment press was that Walt Disney was considering selling his studio to CBS. (Later, when “Mary Poppins” became a huge hit, Walt jokingly told reporter Hedda Hopper that now he might consider making an offer to buy CBS.)

No Show. England’s King George V refused to go to the movies unless a Mickey Mouse cartoon was shown, and his wife Queen Mary once came late to tea rather than miss the end of a charity showing of “Mickey’s Nightmare”.

Mickey Mouse Goes To War. “Mickey Mouse played a part in the invasion of northern France, it was revealed today. Naval officers gathering for invasion briefing at a southern port approached the sentry at the door and furtively whispered into his ear the password of admission: “Mickey Mouse.” Press release from United Press dated June 8, 1944 from London. “Mickey Mouse” was not the codeword for the start of the Allied invasion of Normandy (D-Day) as has been reported in so many different places but for the meeting where officers received their orders. This discovery was made by Animation Historian Michael Barrier who is currently finishing up his book on DELL comics focusing specifically on the contributions of Carl Barks, John Stanley and Walt Kelly.

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23 Comments

  • on the subject of the film HURRAY FOR BETTY BOOP … “While Dalton reluctantly admitted to bringing on other writers, he insisted the film is “all my work. The film is pretty much my baby.”
    Mr. Dalton neither created the character, nor designed the character, nor was in any way involved with the original productions of the cartoons, nor was in any way involved with the production of the recolored cartoons, AND had writers working with him on the project, AND most likely was in no way involved with such things as the physical splicing/editing of the film etc.

    but it’s all his work.

    ——

    Jim Korkis wrote, “… In 1967, John Hubley was working on a combination live-action/animation feature to be called “Gulliver’s Troubles”.
    considering that GULLIVER’S TRAVELS BEYOND THE MOON was released and flopped in 1966, I find it odd that Mr. Hubley would consider Gulliver as the theme for a feature length movie in 1967. not to mention there had already been a feature length animated version of Gulliver’s travels produced by the Fleischer brothers. sometimes you’ve gotta wonder “what on earth were they thinking?”

    • “Mr. Dalton neither created the character, nor designed the character, nor was in any way involved with the original productions of the cartoons, nor was in any way involved with the production of the recolored cartoons, AND had writers working with him on the project, AND most likely was in no way involved with such things as the physical splicing/editing of the film etc.
      but it’s all his work.”

      I still quiver at those redrawns and their sloppy production values (some end credits even go so far as to have something written in Hangul on the screen since I guess nobody would notice it over here).
      http://i.imgur.com/0LxzWt9.png

      considering that GULLIVER’S TRAVELS BEYOND THE MOON was released and flopped in 1966,”

      Wouldn’t say it flopped back in Japan as much as it did here. At least it was the first time Toei tackled something in Science-Fiction in their animated films at the time.

      “I find it odd that Mr. Hubley would consider Gulliver as the theme for a feature length movie in 1967. not to mention there had already been a feature length animated version of Gulliver’s travels produced by the Fleischer brothers. sometimes you’ve gotta wonder “what on earth were they thinking?”

      That didn’t stop another group out in Europe from doing their take on the tale using a live-action actor in an animated Lilliput a decade later (having watched this version a lot as a kid)….
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulliver's_Travels_(1977_film)

  • Even though a lot of people insisted the colorized Boops (and similarly desecrated Porky Pigs) were “harmless” and “just another way to reach out to new fans,” these things were all but shoved down our throats. Rental firms like Kit Parker would send the “more popular color versions” by default unless renters specifically asked for black and white. The color Porky Pigs filled tv syndication packages. Even the home movie market was infiltrated. I remember ordering what was advertised as the black & white “Minnie the Moocher” and getting pink and purple version, and then getting grief from the dealer about being “too fussy.” I think we owe a debt of gratitude to the sea of scholars and complainers who decried both this and the later wave of Turner colorization and all the mischief that was mixed in with all the pretty colors.

    • Even though a lot of people insisted the colorized Boops (and similarly desecrated Porky Pigs) were “harmless” and “just another way to reach out to new fans,” these things were all but shoved down our throats. Rental firms like Kit Parker would send the “more popular color versions” by default unless renters specifically asked for black and white. The color Porky Pigs filled tv syndication packages. Even the home movie market was infiltrated. I remember ordering what was advertised as the black & white “Minnie the Moocher” and getting pink and purple version, and then getting grief from the dealer about being “too fussy.” I think we owe a debt of gratitude to the sea of scholars and complainers who decried both this and the later wave of Turner colorization and all the mischief that was mixed in with all the pretty colors.

      The 1970′s and 80′s were terrible times to get into the classics when you had those hurdles to jump over. I remember a pal I’ve talked earlier had a super 8 of one of those Betty Boop drawns (an “Ivy 16″ print I believe it was labeled at the opening) of “I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead You Rascal You” and was just annoyed at how truncated the whole thing was.

    • I seem to remember “I’ll be Glad When You’re Dead” in color. All the actual live footage of Armstrong was missing — including the sequence where his live-action head seems to chase Bimbo.

      And a bit later Popeye got the same treatment from Ted Turner.

    • I seem to remember “I’ll be Glad When You’re Dead” in color. All the actual live footage of Armstrong was missing — including the sequence where his live-action head seems to chase Bimbo.

      It was a mess. imagine some station running that thing and realized they could fit another two minutes worth of ads in if they could.

      And a bit later Popeye got the same treatment from Ted Turner.

      I’m thinking of “Goonland” right now with the film mending itself magically! In all fairness, at least they kept the live-action bits in with “The Adventures of Popeye” when they redrew that, but yes, it was the same pile of sludge like usual.

  • Sadly. The “Movie” is on YouTube ….

    http://youtu.be/rLa3ceA9a0U

    • Albeit the edited version, there was a VHS release that came out in the 80′s from Warner Home Video of it’s original New Line release that I bothered to buy once on eBay for whatever reason.

    • “CAB CALLOWAY, DEBBIE BOONE, and THE ASSOCIATION”
      The only time you’ll ever see those three names together.

      One of the new songs for the film, by Dan Dalton, was “You Make Me Feel So Stoned”.

      The tragic Jack Hanrahan is given a “Story and Screenplay” credit at the end.
      Hanrahan won an Emmy for his comedy writing for NBC’s “Laugh-In” in 1968.
      http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2008/04/jack_hanrahan_dead_at_75.html

      I am also surprised to see James Burton listed as one of the musicians in the end credits – he was of course a highly-sought-after Los Angeles recording studio guitarist, as well as a longtime member of both Elvis Presley’s and Ricky Nelson’s bands!
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiuGGagp67Y
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkqnzzFIazM

      Dan Dalton gives a kinda-sorta acknowledgement in the final seconds of the film:
      “THANK YOU MAX FLEISCHER”.

      10-15 years before producing “his baby”, Dan Dalton was a banjo and 12-string guitar-playing member of The Back Porch Majority, which recorded five LPs for Columbia/Epic Records(1965-67), made an appearance on The Lucy Show (with Tennessee Ernie Ford in 1967), and performed in person for President Lyndon B. Johnson at the White House(1965)!
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tq84mnjFFr4

      - William

    • Nice to see what else Dan Dalton did during his career.

  • There’s an A&E Biography episode on Betty Boop that plays at Betty being a real celebrity. It’s best described as unfortunate.

    The only animation pasteups that really worked for me were the Fleischer “cheaters” (Popeye and Bluto showing their own films in penny arcades, etc) and the more elaborate Disneyland shows where they did a pretty decent job of matching new animation to old — and sometimes actually blending shorts into a passable single story, instead of just having somebody pull out a scrapbook.

    I have sort of a grudging nostalgia for the Famous Studios shorts that tacked framing stories onto clips from the Popeye two-reelers. That was the only way we saw that footage at all back in the day, and Jack Mercer’s mutterings were actually a bit thicker and funnier. Given Popeye’s popularity, did Paramount ever book two or all three two-reelers as a single attraction, sans any editing or linking? Very early Disney had some success with groups of untinkered shorts.

    The Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng compilations were cute, but the disconnect between new and old was too obvious despite the presence of both original directors. Other Warner “movies” and videos attempted continuities with cheap-looking new links and just made you wish they’d run the original shorts intact.

  • “Hurray For Betty Boop” takes it’s linking idea, that the Devil can assume any shape and thus play all the villains, from the earlier compilation feature; “The Adventures of Mutt and Jeff and Bugoff” made by Radio and Television Film Packagers in 1973. This used the silent short “Slick Sleuths” as it’s framing cartoon. “Sleuths” featured a villain who could assume any shape, fooling detectives Mutt and Jeff. It was a simple matter to imply that the shape-shifter (named “Bugoff” in the new feature) could take the form of any character, so linking more Mutt and Jeff shorts together was nearly effortless. In the early 1930s, several Mutt and Jeff black and white silents were traced and painted in color (Kromacolour), and issued with sound tracks. I have a nitrate print of the one called “Globetrotters”. The animation was re-timed as well when the color cels were photographed. “Bugoff” used footage from some of the Kromacolour shorts as well as using the Korean/Fred Ladd Entercolor process to do “Slick Sleuths” and a few more. At times, “Bugoff” assumed the shape of a real live belly dancer and ate up about 10 minutes of screen time gyrating for the camera! So it’s a pretty sure bet that Dan Dalton either saw this Mutt and Jeff feature, or produced it himself!

  • As bad as the Korean redrawns looked on a 27-inch color TV screen in the early 1970s, lord knows what they would have looked liked on a full-sized theater screen. But the attitude in the early 70s was that nobody wanted to see anything in black & white if there were color options available, which is why we not only got the color redrawns, but why some TV shows that transitioned from B&W to color in the 1960s saw their non-color episodes removed from 70s syndication packages, even if those were the best episodes of the series.

    Turner did execute slightly more quality control on the Popeyes that were part of the 1987-88 package — the first three sent back were as bad as any of the Boop or Porky efforts (they couldn’t even be bothered to redraw the ship door closing on the titles), but after that the worst of drafting errors were cut down, and the colors chosen weren’t as garish as those used in the earlier efforts. But when Warners and Disney released the first of their computerized color cartoons just two years later, it made Ted’s decision to go cheap on his colorization look even worse by comparison.

    • I have no idea what Turner’s motives were in having the Popeye cartoons redrawn in color rather that computer-colored. I do know that when the process of colorizing black and white films by computer first emerged, it was believed not to be suitable for animation. Why? Early computer colorization was unable to achieve the deep, rich colors associated with animated cartoons, being originally more effective at lighter, more pastel colors.

    • “I have no idea what Turner’s motives were in having the Popeye cartoons redrawn in color rather that computer-colored. I do know that when the process of colorizing black and white films by computer first emerged, it was believed not to be suitable for animation. Why? Early computer colorization was unable to achieve the deep, rich colors associated with animated cartoons, being originally more effective at lighter, more pastel colors.”

      It was very obvious when you look at early examples like this…
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpT1DkBOnqo

  • I loved “Hurray for Betty Boop” and i wanna see a proper DVD release of the film

  • Great poster for the Betty movie , at least.

    • I see where that money went! :-P

  • Thanks for the credit Jim. I appreciate it. Dalton was completely convinced he had produced a wonderful movie. Amazing!

    • No different from the way Giorgio Moroder thought he was doing to improve Fritz Lang’s Metropolis 30 years back.

  • Speaking of MUTT AND JEFF MEAY BUGOFF , I am apparently the only person who remembers seeing the Bugoff feature in a theater – The Mount Kisco Theater in Mount Kisco , New York , the weekend after Spiro Agnew resigned , either a Saturday or Sunday matinee – I have not seen it since but still remember some points , and snippets of the songs (VERY much post-” Sixties ” pop/rock/caberet sorta songs) very well .

  • …BTW , the Democratic National Convention was held in New York City in 1976 ! I think there is a bit of a mistake above , in the suggestion that folks held pro-BBFP publicity demonstrations in 1980 . – So , were there at least pre-BBFP demonstrations held in 1976 after all , whether the film was actually released then or no , or were there demonstrations held at the 1980 Dem convention ? -

  • ..- Pt. 2 – Okay , I see that the DNC was held in NYC BOTH in 1976 and 1980 !
    So , I guess there were HFBB publicity demonstrations held in 1980 .
    One doesn’t expect the same city to be used 2 Presidential cycles in a row ~ Even ” groovy/gritty/70s ” New York ? Obviously it was .
    Oh , and when I wrote the above I was assuming that the BB feature was titled BETTY BOOP FOR PRESIDENT , and acronymed it that way . I sowwy ! :-)

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