The “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.