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. According to a 1932 newspaper article the secret to the origin of scat singing lied in Harlem and scouts were sent to Negro cabarets for data. The testimony given during the trial was, for the most part in two-fourths time and very syncopated. The defense presented a galaxy of talented performers to show that long before Miss Kane made her debut as a singer of "baby" songs the practice of interpolating songs with meaningless sounds was quite common.
Also Known As
- Poo Poo Padoo
- 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)
Differences Between Boops
Betty's Boops would differ depending on the actress portraying her. Marjorie Hines the original voice of Betty Boop would often "Boop-Oop-a-Doop". Mae Questel would "Boop-Boop-Be-Doop" and Bonnie Poe would sometimes "Poop-Poop-Pe-Doop". Most of the time the other voices of Betty Boop would use "Boop-Oop-a-Doop" but Questel wanted her Boops differ to the other actresses and would often incorporate her own style, mainly to differ to Helen Kane (as Questel originally started out as a Helen Kane impersonator and Kane gave Questel her start in show business). Kane originally would "Poop-Poop-Padoop" which she later changed to "Boop-Boop-a-Doop". "Boop-Oop-a-Doop" is based on Kane's version of "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" removing the "B" from the second verse.
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/Lil Esther/Little Esther:
Baby Esther Lee Jones was an eight year old African-American performer who used "Boo-Boo-Boo," "Doo-Doo-Doo," "Wha-Da-Da," "Do-Ho-De-Wa-Da-De-Da," "Boo-Did-Do-Doo," "Lo-Di-De-Do," and would finish off her routine with a "De-Do" 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. 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, Esther did not attend. Her ex-manager had claimed that she was still in Paris, when in reality Esther had returned to America around 1932-1933 and became a singer and dancer for Cab Calloway and his Orchestra. In 1934 she toured the vaudeville circuit and was dubbed Little Esther the Sepia Dancing Doll. Baby Esther was active from 1926-1934 and also toured the world from 1929, she visited France, Berlin, Brazil and was compared to Josephine Baker who she met in person. The footage of Jones is apparently lost to time. In late 1934 a woman by the name of Gertrude Saunders, claimed that she was the originator of "Boop-Oop-a-Doop". Gertrude stated that she had first used the scat sound in 1921, she was given tribute in 1938-1939 as originator of "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" and was celebrated as the originator in African-American newspapers up until 1950.
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 interpolated the scat lyrics into a 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 songs. 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 for a shortwhile then refused to utter "Boop-Boop-a-Doop", then later 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". After winning the lawsuit against Helen Kane, Ann would state that she sand "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" before Helen Kane was known. Ann also considered herself the "original" Betty Boop and later lashed out at Mae Questel the most famous voice of Betty Boop.
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.
- Chic Kennedy claimed in 1931, that she originated "Poop-Poop-a-Doop" in 1928, and that it was stolen from her by Helen "Sugar" Kane who took her place on Broadway when she was taken ill.
- 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 Boop-ing 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 later performed the song in London in 1892.