Betty Boop is a cartoon character, but in terms of popularity and recognition she has far crossed the boundaries of that medium. Today, she is in comics, on T-shirts, she is part of commercials, and her "bup-up-a-dup" is known around the world. Yet the story of the woman (or women) who served as the inspiration for the creation of this sensual cartoon character is largely unknown. Because, Betty Boop's fame far surpassed theirs.
Betty Boop was born in the Flasher studio, from where she debuted on August 9, 1930, and very quickly became very popular in a series of short cartoons of the same name by Paramount Pictures. Initially, the character was conceived as a French poodle, but, over time, the creator added human features to her, so that she became the sexiest cartoon heroine of her time.
Its creator Max Flecher did not hide that the images of several famous American entertainers of that time served as a model, the most impressive of which is the singer Helen Kane. Based on the song "Bup-Bup-A-Dup" performed by Helen Kane, the animator of the character Grim Natwick created a cartoon character to whom these words fit, and that phrase soon became a trademark of the entire cartoon series.
Helen Kane was working for Paramount Pictures at the time the character was created and, although a rising star during the 20s, was already nearing the end of her career. What’s more, she was just one in a series of actresses of the time who used “bup-up-a-dup” as a phrase, so that was the fame the studio planned to inherit by switching her to the cartoon character Betty Boop.
The Betty Boop trial:
Things got complicated when Helen Kane filed a lawsuit in 1932 against Max Flesher and Paramaut Studios seeking $ 250,000 in damages, claiming that the phrase “bup-up-a-dup” was used from her song “I wanna be loved by you ”.
The trial lasted two years. Helen claimed that Betty Boop's appearance was a deliberate caricature of her appearance, which violated human rights law, as well as that the heroine from the cartoon represented "unfair competition" to her.
The girls who borrowed the votes of Betty Boop - Bonnie Poe and Margie Hines, testified in favor of the defense.
Many actresses lent her voice, but Helen was not one of them.
Lots of similarities and some differences:
The studio leaders did not sit idly by. They claimed that their Betty looked like Helen in dress, make-up and "bob" hairstyle, but also in a bunch of other singers and actresses of the time. For example, to Clara Bow, a famous actress from the era of silent films.
As Helen insisted that it was not so much a matter of appearance as of the recognizable voice and recognizable phrase Betty uttered, the trial turned into a contest whose "bup-a-dup" is more like that uttered by a provocative cartoon heroine, and the biggest problem they had stenographers trying to record it all properly.
At one point, the defense called in manager Louis Bolton, who testified that Esther Jones, an African-American singer from the "Cotton Club" in Harlem, was the one who included the "boops" in her performances long before Kane.
Thanks to a recording from this club, it has been proven that this dark-skinned beauty used the "bup-bup" phrase a few years before Helen.
Unfortunately, little is known about singer Esther Jones today. Recordings of her voice released at the trial have been lost, and today she is thought to have died even before the trial began.
An end without a real winner:
After years of litigation that turned into a media circus, it all ended without a real winner - Helen Kane continued to claim that she was the inspiration for Betty, Paramount Pictures never paid her any compensation, and the provocative cartoon heroine continued to perform her own, increasingly legendary “bup-a-dup” in every cartoon in which she appeared.
Today, Esther Jones is forgotten. And Helen Kane's fame has faded and mostly no one even remembers her. Only Betty Boop still lives on the screens. And, of course, he always utters the familiar "bup-a-dup."
The still popular character still floods stores today is one of the most profitable items in the world of show business. Cups, figurines, dresses, masks, dolls with the image of Betty Boop are flooding stores around the world. Even many famous stars wear it tattooed on their bodies, as a symbol of their, at the same time, childish playful nature and lush sexuality.
And you, too, when you hear the seductive "Boop-Oop-A-Doop," leave the remote for a moment and sigh happily or longingly.
Very interesting, some things I hear for the first time!