Thursday, January 18, 2007

Betty Boop...the Movie!

Here's three images I did for the aborted 1993 project, "The Betty Boop Movie". Betty is still in high demand as a licensing character and considered a top producer of revenues in that arena - even without any new animation to keep her image fresh for the public. Betty Boop is one of the largest classic cartoon merchandise items in the world with over 400 licensees in 38 countries. As recently as the 1970's or 1980's, a court returned the Betty Boop copyright to the Fleischer family.

Max's son Richard Fleischer saw an opportunity to create a new movie for Betty, so he and the Zanucks (Richard and Lili) were Executive Producers, Jerry Rees and Steve Leiva were Producers, Steve Moore was Director and I was Production Designer. The negatives that I heard aimed at the project were that it was too sophisticated for kids and too childish for adults – or something to that effect. That just seems to me like a negative way of saying that it has a broad appeal for a general audience. Anyway, here's three of my favorite pieces. Let me know if you would like to see more.
The project was aborted during the development process when Frank Mancuso replaced Alan Ladd at MGM.
(note to Frank Mancuso: Just make the movie anyway!)


avri said...

These are beautifull!
thanks for sharing :)
By all means, we ant more.

Great blog, keep it up!

Steve Moore said...

I know you've got more of these paintings, Fred. So cough 'em up! I posted a couple of your pieces and Steve Wahl's reel of the father/daughter ballad "Where Are You?" on my site (go to the "From the attic" page, then "deep Vault"). I've read some comments from people who either love it or hate it, depending on if they still live in their mothers' basement or not.

Fred Cline said...

Thanks Steve and Avri - I'll post more on BB later.

mr-dunn* said...

hi fred-i was at premiere films in 93 when steve leiva and jerry rees came over and pitched the boop movie.i went to uli meyer studios after that and met steve several times during space jam and worked alongside him in the warners building in sherman oaks-what are they up to now?

Mitch K said...

Those paintings are pretty nice, but if I were to make a judgment about the film based on those pieces, I certainly wouldn't want to see it. Where's the lively inanimate objects and the crazy caves with freaky skeleton backgrounds? The paintings make Betty look flat and sappy. I'm not sold.

Fred Cline said...

A legitimate observation, Mitch, because that truly is the magic of the original Betty Boop cartoons. I have some pieces that I will post (as soon as I can get home to dig them out of my studio) that "sell the concept" better than the ones I posted. They were not really such grand setpieces, though, so I don't consider them to be "my favorite pieces".

Fred Cline said...

mr-dunn, The last I heard about Jerry was that he has been doing some work in the San Francisco area at Wild Brain (I believe), although there is no mention of him on the Wild Brain website. He also has done some work for Disney Imagineering over that last few years on a "per project" basis. I'm sure he's writing and pitching projects as well. Leiva had a play produced at (I think) a theater called "The Kitchen" and this was just after Betty Boop. I think he went back east for awhile to do something non-film-related, but then I heard he was back in the saddle with some new project. But my news on Steve is more rumor than anything.

Steven Paul Leiva said...

Hey Fred -- Steve Leiva here. I just stumbled upon your website. Nice to see the wonderful Betty Boop designs you did again. Ah, if only that film had been made. It always seemed to me that once Mancuso took over that possibly his in-house animation people told him that they thought our Betty Boop was too live-action like. At least that's what they (the MGM animation people) had told me when the film was still a go. They just didn't get it, did they? It would have been fun film and innovative in its way.

To answer your commentator's question as to what I've been up to: I left animation after Space Jam to concentrate on writing. My play, "Made of the Moon" had its premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1996. My novel, "Blood is Pretty" was published in 2003. People can check it out at

I adapted the book "The Twelve Dogs of Christmas" for a live-action film, writing the original screen treatment. The film got a limited theatrical release in 2005, but has sold very well as a DVD. So much so that the publisher of the original book (which was just song lyrics) has asked for a novelization of the film. I have written that, and it will be published in October of 2007. Right now at the Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood I have a play running which I co-wrote with Bob Bergen and directed called Not Just Another Pretty Voice. It's the story of a nice Jewish boy who wanted to be Porky Pig. You and your readers can check it out at

And, of course I voiced the role of Scott in Steve Moore's wonderful animated short "The Indescribable Nth"

At least that's all the rumors I've heard about myself.

Anonymous said...

I Dont know why they Didnt Make The Movie...

Betty Boop Could Have Carried on in the 90s if they had made her Movie in 1993

Her Last movies/movie Apperances before that were, The Romance of Betty Boop And who framed Roger Rabbit,

if only they had made that in the 90s Betty would have continued On To the future

she still has/is populer
but it would have boosted her double

the only new thing of betty boop to come is The Betty Boop Broadway 2011 - 2012
i would rather see a cartoon than a broadway..

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