Betty Boop Was Black! J. Edgar Hoover Too, But Betty Boop – Wow!

Why does it seem strange not to be surprised at lying, hypocritial J. E. Hoover having been so hypocritical? Well, precisely because we already knew what he was like, I suppose! He was only slightly black it seems, but of course that counts. We already knew he was a law enforcer who denied the existence of the mafia, a homosexual who persecuted homosexuals, and led to or failed to prevent serious problems for Paul Robeson, Charlie Chaplin, and all the rest of them. I wouldn’t even be surprised if it turned out he was a woman!

From the Madame Noire site.

From the Madame Noire site.


But as madamenoire tells us, the Betty Boop character clearly was based on Esther Jones – not only could you tell immediately by just looking at the photo, but one of her trademark songs at the Cotton Club was the one ending up: “Boo boop be doop”, later sung by Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot (probably titled “I Wanna Be Loved By You”).  That’s where “Boop” came from:
Esther Jones from the Madamnoire link previously; Betty Boop cartoon from https://bestteenagersever.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/betty-boop-jpg.jpg

Esther Jones from the Madamnoire link previously; Betty Boop cartoon from https://bestteenagersever.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/betty-boop-jpg.jpg


As the Madame Noire website relates, in a sequence of 15 famous people you probably didn’t realise were black, she never got any recognition, acknowledgement, royalties or anything for having her Cotton Club stage id ripped off. Max Fleischer supposedly “created her” in 1932.  (Oh Esther, a gun would have been so much better than any number of lawyers!) (I’m not convinced every aspect of the real person was honestly portrayed in the cartoon though, come to think of it.)

Alongside the less surprising “masked blacks” (as always, some only slightly black) like Hannibal, Saint Augustine of Hippo and Tutankhamun, and some Americans who didn’t really look at all black (C. Gable, J Kennedy/Onassis, Alexander Hamilton), there is the slightly surprising Father Christmas (don’t try this at home! – unless…oh dear, I don’t know…) and the old chestnut Beethoven. I don’t think the latter is a fanciful invention, I suspect it’s true enough. “His mother was a moor” quotes the MN webpage.

Also, the Medicis and Alexandre Dumas, and others MN didn’t mention: Napoleon’s Josephine…

Napoleon's Josephine.  The blackness doesn't show up well in this portrait :-) . Click for origin.

Napoleon’s Josephine. The blackness doesn’t show up well in this portrait 🙂 . Click for origin.

…(also left handed), and a Roman emperor or two.

The Clangers were not grey but pink:

This will repeat, though perhaps not on Microsoft software.

This will repeat, though perhaps not on Microsoft software.


Alongside them, the issue of Rachel Dolezal:

Click for source.  It does look like she naturally has freckles, so might have been in the habit of applying make-up over them!  In which case, she just chose what colour she wanted, and maybe didn't do a lot of direct harm!

Click for source. It does look like she naturally has freckles, so might have been in the habit of applying make-up over them! In which case, she just chose what colour she wanted, and maybe didn’t do a lot of direct harm!

seems less important, though actually it is rather subtle. Should she be allowed? Who’s to say? What does it all mean? The areas of philosophy involved in all this aren’t really my areas, but it certainly blows the notion “Philosophy is dead”  (coughStephenHawkingcough) right out of the water.

A really good one is Alexander Pushkin.  Said by some to be the founder of modern Russian literature.  Image via Twitter:

Click for source

Click for source

It’s sometimes asked, who was the greatest ever composer, and very often it comes down to Beethoven or Mozart.  I don’t like Mozart – as a kid I found even his prissier little tunes harder to play than one might reasonably expect – but he was I admit very talented, and many people’s favourite.  However the music of the Chevalier de Saint-Georges sounds incredibly like Mozart – almost indistinguishable to my ear, though very slightly better I’d say – and earlier!  The BBC radio 4 prog on him.   So that’s “The two top European composers” covered! :-S

But poor, dear old “Baby Esther”!

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