The Story Behind Betty Boop

The inspiration of Betty Boop may have been who we thought it was.


502nd Air Base Wing

According to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Black History Month dates back to 1915. Carter G. Woodson, founder of the ASALH and Black History Month, chose the month of February for the observance because it includes the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Tommy Brown/Released)

By Emily Hawkins, Staff Writer

Betty Boop’s iconic style, with her hour glass figure and short curly hair, was actually inspired by a black jazz singer,  who was never formally credited. Esther Jones sang regularly at the Cotton Club in Harlem, and went by her stage name ‘Baby Esther’, because of her baby voice style of scatting. In 1930, Max Fleischer, former head of Fleischer Studios, released the character Betty Boop, with a very similar style of singing.

Thanks to the one and only Esther Jones, now have our beloved Betty Boop that is adored by millions.”

A $250,000 lawsuit was filed against the Betty Boop creators, but not by Esther Jones. Helen Kane, a popular singer and actress, claims she invented “boop-boop-a-doop”. Betty Boop’s likeness to Kane was uncanny, but during the trial it was revealed that Kane had attended Esther Jones’s performances and started her “booping” after. Kane never once credited Ms. Jones, taking her special talent as her own, and leaving Esther out to dry.

But does this mean that we shouldn’t praise Jones for her contribution to such a historic character? Of course not! Thanks to the one and only Esther Jones, now have our beloved Betty Boop that is adored by millions.