Gloria Brame, Ph.D.

The Betty Behind the Boop: Vintage photo

Filed By Gloria Brame, Ph.D. | August 13, 2010 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Entertainment, Entertainment, Media
Tags: Betty Boop, Helen Kane, vintage female, vintage Hollywood, women's history

Everyone knows Betty Boop, but did you ever see the woman who gave her that amazing voice (and personality)? Here's a great headshot of Helen Kane, the songstress who brought Betty's charming "boops" to life. She wants to be loved by you, by you, and nobody else.


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Helen Kane didn't actually do the voice for Betty Boop, that was Mae Questel who did an imitation of Kane's voice and singing. Betty Boop is kind of a combo of Clara Box and Helen Kane (Kane was never that sexy in her act), both of whom were also under contract to Paramount, the studio which released the Boop cartoon. Kane was pissed and ended up suing Max Fleischer for using her act without permission. Unfortunately, it was proven in court that the "boop-oop-a-doop" and the baby doll voice were originally copied from a black singer by Kane. Karma. Her career petered out, but I'm a big Helen fan, she's a great singer.

Clara Box??? -> Clara Bow. *wake up girl*

My God, you're full of fascinating tidbits, aren't you, Gina? Good call. Bravo.

It's always amazing to me how "sexy" changes so radically over time.

Do you know who the black performer was? I hate that all those artists are lost to anonymity and still victimized by the racism of their day.


Her name was Baby Esther. Supposedly Kane saw her at the Cotton Club (don't know if this was true) but Esther did do a screen test at one point which was used as evidence at the trial. I would love to see it if that still exists.

But anyway... Helen Kane was wonderful. How about these clips:

Wow. She really does look like a real live betty boop.