Black History: Betty Boop

March 2, 2021

The idea for the style of the cartoon character known as Betty Boop came from the presentation of a Black jazz singer in the late 1920’s named Esther Jones. Her stage name was Baby Esther, which matched her baby voice singing style.

In 1930, Max Fleischer Studios released the character Betty Boop. The interesting part found in this story is that Ms. Jones’ style and technique was stolen more than once.
The creators of Betty Boop were later sued for $250,000 by another popular singer and actress named Helen Kane, who performed with a very similar presentation as the cartoon character Betty Boop. She claimed to have invented the ‘boop-boop-a-doop’.
The trial opened new evidence that Kane had also been to Esther Jones’ performances and began her baby-like routine afterwards. There was even more evidence showing Jones had performed the act long before Kane did.
Unfortunately, Esther Jones had died before receiving all she deserved for her talented efforts.