This article is about the catchphrase. For the animated short, see Boop-Oop-a-Doop.
Boop-Oop-a-Doop is Betty Boop's trademark catchphrase and song lyrics, which were first made popular by Helen Kane in the 1920s. Kane claimed to be the originator of the unique ad-libs, and attempted to sue Fleischer Studios and Paramount, who she had previously worked for, but she actually took her style from another, meaning she was not the first person to Boop in show business.
Also Known As
- Boop-Poop-Puh-Doop (1929 article on how to pronounce the scat sounds as made by Kane)
- Poop Poop Padoop (According to 1934 article Kane's original scat lyrics was Poop not Boop)
The unique scat lyrics have a long controversy behind them. Many people have used similar or claim to be the originator of the phrase Boop-Oop-a-Doop. Today, Boop-Oop-a-Doop and the word Boop are official Betty Boop trademarks and cannot be used by others, even though the Boop from Betty's name was originally created and made popular by others; it was the exclamation point of the roaring twenties.
The first person to utter similar syllables was Felix Mayol, who had used the scat lyrics "Bou-Doo-Da-Ba-Boo" in his 1913 recording "Bou Dou Ba Boum". This was brought up in Helen Kane's $250,000 suit, where the latter was asked if she had heard the song. Kane denied that she had.
Baby Esther Jones:
Baby Esther Jones was an African-American performer who used "Boo-Boo-Boo", "Doo-Doo-Doo", "Wha-Da-Da" and "Do-Ho-De-Wa-Da-De-Da" in cabaret shows in 1920s Harlem including Atlantic City, New Jersey. Footage of Esther was used in court to confirm that Kane was not the first person to utter the famous scat lyrics.
Esther continued to Boop in shows up until 1930, and she would later be known as the Chocolate Helen Kane, even though she was the original. However, due to being African-American, she never got the recognition she deserved and was dubbed an imitator when she was actively Boop-ing.
When the trial took place, she did not attend. Her manager had claimed she has perished, but details given by her ex-manager, who was paid by Paramount to attend in their defence, were not 100% accurate. This means Esther might have not died, as her death is not listed. There are no (African-American) Esther Jones death certificates dating from 1925 to 1934. The footage of Jones is apparently lost to time.
A woman by the name of Gertrude Saunders, claimed to have been the real identity of Esther Jones and stated that she was the originator of "Boop-Oop-a-Doop" in late 1934, and again in 1938-1939. She was celebrated as the originator in African-American newspapers up until 1950, however, it is unknown if this is true or if it is false information, since there is no Esther Jones on any databases, her existence is nil. This means Gertrude might have been Jones under a pseudonym, as Gertrude's earlier career is not as featured as her later one. She claimed she performed in the Cotton Club in Harlem in the 1920s.
During the suit against Kane, a man claimed that a singer by the name of Edith Griffith had "Booped" in 1927.
Helen Kane became known as The Original Boop-Boop-a-Doop Girl due to her fame, and everyone wanting to be like her in the 1920s-1930s. Kane made Boop-Boop-a-Doop famous after she added it to her performance of "I Wanna Be Loved By You" in the show Good Boy, and became famous overnight.
Originally, Kane's scat lyrics were a number of "Da-Da-Da's" and "Bu-Du-Da-Do's", similar to that of Baby Esther Jones. Listen to Kane's first recording That's My Weakness Now for comparison.
According to information, Kane adapted the scat lyrics she had heard Baby Esther utter in her cabaret act. Originally, Kane adapted the scat lyrics to Poop (Poop Poop Padoop) but the media did not understand, they thought she was saying Boop, and she changed the scat lyrics accordingly. Listen to her earlier recordings from 1928-1929 for a comparison. When Betty Boop debuted in Dizzy Dishes, she used a variety of Poops and Boops.
Kane's popularity came with a multitude of imitators, girls who wanted to be just like her. From 1928 to 1930, she decided to hold look-and-sound-alike contests to find her own double. Many girls entered and won, most notably Mae Questel who won first place in one of the many contests held by Kane and Paramount and is best known as the voice of Betty Boop and most favorite; Margie Hines, the original voice of Betty Boop who also won a contest; Little Ann Little who was also a 1930, RKO Discovery; including Kate Wright, who was then hired in 1929 by Columbia Records to record Helen Kane knock-off's. Each of these women later went on to provide the voice for Betty Boop, as they specialised in that singing style.
Other scat lyrics Kane used in song were "Bup-Bup-a-Dup" and "Bop-Bop-a-Dop", sometimes adding in the word "Lup". After she lost against the Fleischers in court, she continued to Boop, but quit showbiz in 1935 due to the death of her mother and a breakdown. Helen Kane returned in the 1950s, when Betty Boop had already been retired, and became known as the Queen of Boop-Boop-a-Doop, until she died in 1966 (upon which she would be mistaken for Betty Boop's voice).
Clarence Williams was an African-American composer and songwriter. During the Helen Kane suit, he claimed he had invented the word Boop in 1915, claiming they were 'Hot Licks' with scat lyrics such as "What-Da-De-Da" with an occasional Boop thrown in. Margie Hines the voice of Betty Boop also called her "Boops" 'licks'.
Little Ann Little:
Ann Little Rothschild one of the several original voices of Betty Boop claimed that Betty Boop's, "Boop" technique was originally "Ba-Da-Inde-Do", which later developed into "Bo-Do-De-O-Do" and finally to "Boop-Oop-a-Doop". She stated that in 1925 she was the baby of the Greenwich Village Follies and sang cute baby songs and did breaks at the end of the bars of music. These "breaks," included the sounds "Wha-Da-De-Dah," (similar to Clarence Williams claim and Baby Esther's scat sounds), "Bo-Vo-Deo-Do" and even "Ba-Da-Daten-Doop".
Other artists who used similar methods of adding scat singing in songs were: Cab Calloway with "Hi-De-Ho" and "Hi-De-Hi". Bing Crosby with "Boo-Boo-Boo". Jimmy Durante with "Ha-Cha-Cha". Another would be "Vo-Do-Do-De-O", a scat lyric which was first used in 1926 by Irving Aaronson and the Victor Commanders.
- The Boop style was en vogue in the 1920s, but by the late 1930s it was classed as silly. One article claimed that there were too many Boop-Boop-a-Doop Singers, and women should use their natural voices.
- The Boop style went well with Betty Boop, as she was an animated cartoon character. And her name Betty together with Boop made her iconic, as it rhymed. When asked what she does, she explains that "she Boop-Boop-a-Doops".
- The Boop style was paid tribute to in the 1950s and is referenced many media from 1929 to the present day.
- Today, the scat lyric is most associated with Betty Boop, who is dubbed the Queen of Cartoons.
- Boop Boop a Doop is also a fixture of flapper culture and the roaring 20s.
- Boop Oop a Doop can also mean I love you, with the hidden context of being more risqué.
- According to a 1931 article, before Booping the most popular sound was "Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay" and like Booping the origin of the meaningless sound was originally originated by a black performer by the name of Mama Lou in the 1880s who first performed the song in a well-known St. Louis brothel run by "Babe" Connors. The song was later adapted and made famous by others, such as Lottie Collins who performed the song in London in 1892.