Betty Boop selling Lancôme mascara
A match made in licensing heaven
Starting this Saturday, December 1st, Betty Boop will be selling Lancôme’s Hypnôse Star mascara in Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. With Ms. Boop’s famous peepers, it’s a wonder such a pairing has never happened before.
Created by Max Fleischer, Betty Boop first appeared in the cartoon Dizzy Dishes in 1930 – albeit as an anthropomorphized French poodle. Turning her ears into earrings, she became human in 1932 and epitomized the flapper girl of the Jazz Age. She was given her own cartoon series that year, and continued to appear in shorts until 1939.
Though many assume “It Girl” Clara Bow was the inspiration for Betty Boop, the character originally began as a caricature of actress/singer Helen Kane. Kane even sued Max Fleischer in 1932 for exploiting her image and distinctive singing style. However, the judge ruled that Kane’s look bore a resemblance to earlier film stars, and testimony revealed that Kane copied the “baby” singing style from a Harlem nightclub singer called baby Ester. Betty Boop was free to “Boop-Oop-A-Doop” all she wanted, for a while anyway.
It wasn’t long before the Hays Production Code of 1934 took issue with Betty Boop’s portrayal of a sexualized woman and her suggestive innuendos. The Hays Code resulted in higher necklines and lower hemlines for Betty Boop, but also in tamer stories and lower ratings.
Though she may have lost her place in the cinemas, she hasn’t lost her place in the hearts of consumers. Betty Boop is licensed to over 400 companies around the world for products from clothing to slot machines. And while she’s five years older than Lancôme, she shows that she is willing to make a few changes for the company – namely, boosting those famous peepers. For the Lancôme campaign she has dozens of thick eyelashes, rather than the character’s usual nine lashes per eye.
So at least we know she’s using the mascara she’s selling.