Betty Boop Brush(ing)

Betty Boop Brush(ing)

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Max Fleischer drew the initial Betty Boop as a caricature of singer and actress Helen Kane. Ms. Kane used a seemingly original "Boop-oop-a-doop" in her songs, namely her hit, I Want to Be Loved By You. 

In 1932, the magazine Photoplay published the above side-by-side comparison in its April issue, and this brought the matter to Ms. Kane's attention.  Upset that her likeness was used without any compensation, she sued Mr. Fleisher for $250,000 in an infringement lawsuit.  

During the late 1920s, an African American singer named Esther "Baby" Jones was a regular performer at the Cotton Club in Harlem.  She was known for using a distinctive baby-like talking in her songs and the use of "boo-boo-boo".  The trial revealed that Ms. Kane had gone to see Baby Esther's act in April, 1928 and began "booping" just like Esther a few weeks later. 

The trial continued for two years until Mr. Fleisher managed to locate a 1928 sound film of Baby Esther's performance.  Esther had died in 1934, so the film was all that was left as evidence.