Betty Boop Celebrates 75th Birthday

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Boop-oop-a-doop! Betty Boop (search) is 75!

Created by Max Fleischer, Betty has gone from a cartoon character depicted as a French poodle in the animated short "Dizzy Dishes," (search) released on Aug. 9, 1930, to curvaceous sex symbol two years later, to merchandising icon today.

Boop — whose red dress, bob haircut, saucerlike eyes and gold loop earrings are indelible — has starred in more than 100 cartoons, two syndicated comic strips and two animated musical TV specials on CBS. She also had a cameo appearance in the 1988 film "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." (search)

"Betty's bigger than ever," said Frank Caruso, creative director of King Features Syndicate (search). "There's not many companies that can say that. Betty is one of the top animated characters out there. People are embracing her just as much now as 75 years ago."

Her likeness has appeared on T-shirts, purses, thousands of collectibles — and Jessica Simpson's birthday cake.

"She touches so many boundaries," Caruso told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "From 8 to 80, she's hitting every market when you discovered her. I think people like to hold onto their childhood."

Boop, who was Bimbo the dog's girlfriend in several early cartoons, introduced the world to Popeye the Sailor in 1933 "and became everyone's girlfriend," Caruso said.

The Empire State Building paid homage to her Monday night with its red and gold Tower Lights.

"The red and gold is a nice tribute," Caruso said. "To the golden age of animation to today that she's red-hot."