Bimbo's Initiation

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Bimbo's Initiation
Directed byDave Fleischer
Produced byMax Fleischer
StarringMae Questel
Billy Murray
Music bySammy Timberg
Animation byGrim Natwick (uncredited)
Color processBlack-and-white
Distributed byParamount Publix Corporation
Release date
July 24, 1931
Running time
6 minutes
CountryUnited States

Bimbo's Initiation is a 1931 Fleischer Studios Talkartoon animated short film starring Bimbo and featuring an early version of Betty Boop with a dog's ears and nose. It was the final Betty Boop cartoon to be animated by the character's co-creator, Grim Natwick.


Bimbo is walking down the street when he suddenly disappears down an open manhole, and is subsequently locked down there by a mouse who closely resembles Mickey Mouse.[1] He lands in the underground clubhouse of a secret society. The leader asks Bimbo if he would like to be a member, but Bimbo refuses and is sent through a series of dangerous events. He is repeatedly asked by the leader to join their society, but keeps refusing. Bimbo is brought through a series of mysterious doors that lead him into yet another sub-basement. Bimbo flees through various death traps before landing in front of the mysterious order's leader again. Bimbo still refuses to become a member, but finally accepts the invitation when the leader reveals to be the real Betty Boop and the rest of the society members remove their costumes, showing that they are all Betty clones. Bimbo dances with all the Betties to celebrate.

The song Wanna Be a Member? is parody lyrics written to the 1919 song the Vamp (or Vamp a Little Lady).

Analysis and recognitions[edit]

The surreal, nightmarish atmosphere of Bimbo's Initiation has made it one of the most renowned Fleischer Studios shorts. Leonard Maltin described it as "the 'darkest' of all"[2] the Fleischers' cartoons. In 1994 it was voted #37 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation industry.

The cartoonist Jim Woodring identified Bimbo's Initiation as "one of the things that laid the foundation for my life's philosophy."[3]


  1. ^ Birth of an Industry: Blackface Minstrelsy and the Rise of American Animation byNicholas Sammond
  2. ^ Maltin, Leonard. Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons (New York: Plume Books, 1980), 98.
  3. ^ Groth, Gary. "Jim Woodring Interview". The Comics Journal #164 (December 1993), p. 83.

External links[edit]