Boop 2

Commenting on yesterday’s posting about Betty Boop, Bonnie Bendon Campbell reminded me that before she married Dagwood Bumstead, Blondie (of the comic books) was Blondie Boopadoop. Investigating that history takes us back to the 1920s and 1930s and the rise of the sexy “little girl” persona in pop culture, distilled in the Betty Boop animated movies and newspaper comic strips. The girlish women in this material were all dark-haired — until the persona collided with the “blonde bombshell” stereotype, giving us the early Blondie.

The song “I Wanna Be Loved by You” figures in both the brunette and the blonde strains of this history — in a 1928 performance by the dark-haired Helen Kane (one possible model for Betty Boop) and in the 1959 Some Like It Hot performance by blonde icon Marilyn Monroe.

Here’s Helen Kane in a still photo:


and in her 1928 recording:

And Marilyn Monroe in the 1959 movie:

On Kane, from Wikipedia:

Helen Kane (August 4, 1904 – September 26, 1966) was an American popular singer; her signature song was “I Wanna Be Loved By You”. Kane’s voice and appearance were a likely source for Fleischer Studios animator Grim Natwick when creating Betty Boop, itself a style originating from Baby Esther, although It-girl Clara Bow is another possible influence

On Clara Bow, also from Wikipedia:

Clara Gordon Bow (… July 29, 1905 – September 27, 1965) was an American actress who rose to stardom in silent film during the 1920s. It was her appearance as a plucky shopgirl in the film It that brought her global fame and the nickname “The It Girl”. Bow came to personify the Roaring Twenties and is described as its leading sex symbol


And Baby Esther, also from Wikipedia:

Esther Jones, known by her stage name “Baby Esther”, was an African-American singer and entertainer of the late 1920s. Her “baby” singing style often included [interpolated words like Boo-Boo-Boo and Doo-Doo-Doo]


So much for the dark-haired babes. At the same time, the sexy “blonde bombshell” stereotype was well established; consider Jean Harlow:

Jean Harlow (born Harlean Harlow Carpenter; March 3, 1911 – June 7, 1937) was an American film actress and sex symbol of the 1930s. (Wikipedia link)


Later, in 1945, Marilyn Monroe refashioned herself to become a blonde bombshell: she had her curly brunette hair straightened and dyed blond.

In between, we have the appearance of Blondie in the comics. From Wikipedia:

Blondie is an American comic strip created by cartoonist Chic Young. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, the strip has been published in newspapers since September 8, 1930. The success of the strip, which features the eponymous blonde and her sandwich-loving husband, led to the long-running Blondie film series (1938–1950) and the popular Blondie radio program (1939–1950).

Originally designed to follow in the footsteps of Young’s earlier “pretty girl” creations Beautiful Bab and Dumb Dora, Blondie focused on the adventures of Blondie Boopadoop — a carefree flapper girl who spent her days in dance halls. The name “Boopadoop” derives from the scat singing lyric that was popularized by Helen Kane’s 1928 song “I Wanna Be Loved by You.”

… The catalog for the University of Florida’s 2005 exhibition, “75 Years of Blondie, 1930–2005”, notes:

Blondie’s marriage [in 1933] marked the beginning of a change in her personality. From that point forward, she gradually assumed her position as the sensible head of the Bumstead household. And Dagwood, who previously had been cast in the role of straight man to Blondie’s comic antics, took over as the comic strip’s clown.

… She is … extremely beautiful with gold hair, gentle curls, and a shapely figure.

The wedding day, complete with sniping guests:


A turning point for Dagwood and Blondie, whose lives changed dramatically because of their marriage. Wikipedia on Dagwood:

He was originally heir to the Bumstead Locomotive fortune but was disowned when he married a flapper … whom his family saw as below his class. He has since worked hard at J.C. Dithers & Company (currently as the construction company’s office manager) to support his family.

… His favorite things in life include his wife Blondie [Dagwood is a model of uxoriousness], his kids, naps on the sofa, long baths, and food [notably, the famous Dagwood sandwich].

As for Blondie, her sex appeal shines through (despite her role as the responsible adult in the household), and  people have made much of it in images, ranging all the way to the frankly pornographic. Here’s a sexy, but not X-rated, image by buscoy54 on Photobucket:


The marriage has certainly lasted — by my reckoning, for 82 years.

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