Was the flapper a feminist?

In some ways, she was so well off that it’s hard to imagine her choosing a career path where she didn’t have to worry about her family back home. In fact, she became a professional performer at home, dancing at the age of seven. Her sister, Frances, was one of the most popular female entertainers in the early 1900s, and she was the muse behind the popular 1930s show The Flapper. Yet the flapper’s popularity seemed to wane in the 1930s, as women entered the workplace more than men.
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The Depression hit during the 1930s, and many families were left to fend for themselves. In the final years of the 1930s, a new generation of entertainers began performing in public. For example, the actress Bette Davis appeared in more than 80 features and films in her career, and her star stayed at critical and commercial apex until she died. The Flapper actress, who had appeared in the 1940s Broadway hit, What’s New Pussycat?, married and divorced in the 1940s. For many of her contemporaries, the flapper appeared on the verge of becoming an icon who died young. This seems unlikely in today’s era of celebrity endorsements, and the social stigma associated with the flapper could be a key motivator for flappers who chose to remain in the background. But many flappers, like Frances, kept on going.


In the 1950s, the flapper became more popular. For the first time, the flapper was gaining a major media spotlight. She was also seen on a television series with a different title: Mrs. Betty Smith is a Flapper. When Betty Smith came to her own television show in 1958, she took a risk, and she played herself as a flapper in her first starring role. This first appearance was more than an act or a role. Betty Smith was the most well-known woman of the pre-TV years, and one of the most well-known, as well. In the 1960s, however, it was the other way around. Betty Smith stayed on the sidelines, doing little to distinguish herself other than her flaps. The public didn’t see another Betty Smith for another two decades.

In the 1970s, new female celebrities began making their appearances on television, and the flapper came roaring back. But it took the 1970s to bring flappers of color out of the background. In 1973, the show Betty Smith was canceled after two seasons, leaving only two of the three women