American Vaudeville Museum

All material © 1998-2010 American Museum of Vaudeville, Inc.† Page 9

Helen Kane

1903 ó 1966


Still famous as the Boop-a-doop girl, her posthumous fame rests upon a cartoon series, Betty Boop, which was the source of a plagiarism suit by Ms. Kane. The case was dismissed because a black performer, Baby Esther, was seen to have originated the baby-talk style of singing that was the claim to fame by both Helen Kane and Max Fleischerís cartoon character, Betty Boop.

Although she bobbed her hair and adopted the flapper look, Kane was never a 1920s flapper. While several of her songs were somewhat suggestive, Helenís character was a stand-in for the majority of young women of her day, rural and urban who were caught between traditional mores and emergent social freedoms.