Catherine Wright was a radio and blues singer best known as the "Mystery Girl," who would later go on to provide the voice for the animated cartoon character Betty Boop. Catherine started her career on radio where she would sing popular "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" and blues songs, and sometimes toured the vaudeville circuit. In 1929 she signed with Victor Records and Columbia Records, in which she recorded several songs. Catherine Wright's vocals in the Betty Boop cartoon series can be heard in 1933 and 1938. Wright can also been seen performing live in person in the 1934 Fleischer Victory Newsreel, "Boop-Oop-a-Dooping" to the song "Don't Take My Boop-Oop-A-Doop Away" alongside Mae Questel, Margie Hines, Bonnie Poe and Little Ann Little. It was also stated in the "Betty Boop Biography" that Catherine had also entered RKO contests held by Paramount Pictures that were sponsored by 1920s star Helen Kane, a singer who she was often mistaken for while singing on radio. In 1929 Catherine appeared in Earl Carroll's revue The Sketch Book.
Miss Wright - Block Program (1929)
Miss Catherine Wright, widely known "blues" singer, and imitator of Helen Kane, premier crooner of baby talk song, will be guest artist on the William H. Block Company Christmas hour which will be broadcast at 6 o'clock tonight over WFBM. Miss Wright who is starring at the Indiana theater this week in Marathon Frolics, is best known as the "Mystery Girl." A name gained among New York radio audiences because her voice closely resembled that of Helen Kane before the microphone. Miss Wright is making a tour of the Publix circuit, coming to Indianapolis direct from New York. (The Indianapolis Star)
Carroll Solves Mystery (1929)
"The Mystery Girl," who sings over Station WMCA and who is thought to be Helen Kane by many of the listeners in, is the latest addition to the cast of the still untitled Earl Carroll Revue with book by Eddie Cantor. (The Brooklyn Daily Eagle)
Out of "Sketch Book" (1929)
Within a week, four girl princlpals and possibly more may be out of Earl Carroll's Sketch Book. When the production had its premiere here Nancy Decker was standing in the wings in street attire waiting for a written release from Carroll. She had obtained a verbal one. Estelle Fratus, the Rendezvous club, gave in her notice, effective next week. Maintained she was poorly spotted. The Mystery Girl, Katherine Wright, extensively exploited on the radio, will be out next week.
"Mystery Girl" Opens (1929)
The Radio Mystery Girl, who is under the management of Tom Kennedy, opened for RKO this first half. The program billing asks the questions "What Does She Look Like" and "Who Is She?" We'll take our guess and say that she's short in height, is pretty and has fluffy red hair. As to her name, our guess is that it's Catherine Wright. She has been a favorite with radio fans and opened with Earl Carroll's Sketch Book, leaving it after several performances.
Madison Square Gardens (1929)
Then came saucy little Katherine Wright, red headed and cute as the dickens, to do a bit of impersonating of Helen Kane, the Boop-Boo-Do-Do-De-Boop lady. Miss Kane's the saucy little thing that made such a hit in Sweetie. Remember her? She's the one that sang "He's So Unusual." Katherine did the same song, and gave a very credible impersonation of Miss Kane, too, and followed that up with "Let's Do Something." If our memory hasn't failed us, that also was one of Miss Kane's songs in Sweetie.
Betty Boop Production (1933)
Maria Gambarelli (Gamby) who is understood to be leaving the Radio City Roxy, may appear in the Betty Boop production being planned by M.S Bentham. The show, which will run two hours, will also feature Katherine Wright. It was opened in Pennsylvania last week.
Mystery Girl on Radio (1929)
- "Is There Anything Wrong In That?" (1929)
- "Don't Be Like That" (1929)
- "Everything I Do" (1929)
- "That's Why I'm Happy" (1929)
- "I'd Do Anything For You" (1929)
- "I've Got a Feeling I'm Falling" (1929)
Songs Performed by Kate Wright as Betty Boop
- "You'd Be Surprised" (Betty Boop's Big Boss, 1933)
- "Here We Are" (Betty Boop's May Party, 1933)
- "Humming to Myself" (Betty Boop's Birthday Party, 1933)
Kate Wright also recorded two songs for Victor in 1929, in which she is credited as Catherine Wright.
- BVE-57147 "Widmung" 11/15/1929
- BVE-57148 "My Lovely Celia" 11/15/1929
In 1929 Kate Wright recorded as "The Mystery Girl" for Columbia Records anonymously. The artist was later revealed to have been Kathryn Wright/Catherine Wright by discographers. The recordings were Columbia Records crafty attempt to cash in on Helen Kane's popularity as a rival to the Victor Company. The label issued four sides by a anonymous artist called The Mystery Girl. So few sides released suggests that this attempt to exploit Helen Kane's fame was not successful. Wright would provide the vocals for Betty Boop when Betty's main three voice actresses were unavailable.
The Mystery Girl Review
In 1985, The Mystery Girl recordings were reviewed in the paper; "Much less ethical was the brief appearance of "The Mystery Girl" also in 1929 a shamelessly Boopish approach with no holds barred. This was out-and-out copying and in some ways the mystery girl out-Boops the original (Helen Kane). Her dizzy testimonial, "Do I Know What I'm Doing", and the fabulous "I'd Do Anything For You" are shining gems of rinky-dink charm. Halfway through this latter tune she's even agreeing to babies, even though, like turnips she can't stand em. I was also thrilled by her version Fats Waller's "I've Got A Feeling I'm Falling". Her whining little voice wrings out the sweet words just so. The liner notes speculate that this Mystery Gal was none other than Kate Wright, one of the several women who's voices were used for the voice of Betty Boop in the films."
"Do I Know What I'm Doing?" (1929)
- Buzzy Boop (as Buzzy Boop)
- Mice (Pudgy the Watchman)
The Mystery Girl Recordings
N.Y, May 14,1929
N.Y., Jul 9, 1929
- W148738-3 "Do I Know What I'm Doing?" Co 1902-D
- W148739-3 "He's So Unusual" Co-1902-D
Kathryn Wright Appearing At Happy's Tavern on Myrtle Ave (1937)
Conway, the spy reports that Kathryn Wright, the original Betty Boop girl is now appearing at Happy's Tavern on Myrtle Ave after a triumphant tour of the West says Conway. Sounds like a praise-agent.
- Catherine Wright did the least voice-over for the animated character Betty Boop.
- Wright sang as Betty Boop in three 1933 cartoons, but did not sing in any of the 1938 cartoons.
- Most of her voice-over work with the Fleischer Studios is unknown due to the fact that in most of the original cartoons, all voice over artists were uncredited.
- Wright provided the voice for Betty's cousin Buzzy in the Betty Boop feature Buzzy Boop.
- When Wright reprised her role as Betty in 1938, she did not perform any musical numbers as she had done previously in 1933.
- Kate Wright was also known as "Aunt Kitty" by close friends and family.
- Information about Kate Wright recording as the anonymous artist known as The Mystery Girl was uncovered by discographers in the late 1980s.
- According to Catherine's descendant she also provided the voice for Olive Oyl in one or two 1938 cartoon shorts, where she did an imitation of ZaSu Pitts.