Black HERstory: 'Baby' Esther Jones
Since I couldn't find a fact related to today (February 5th), instead I'll shine light on the original "Betty Boop:" Esther Jones, AKA Baby Esther.
The most iconic animated sex symbol was based on a 1920's Harlem jazz singer. Jones performed regularly in the Cotton Club during the 1920s. Baby Esther’s trademark vocal style of using “boops” and other childlike scat sounds attracted the attention of actress Helen Kane during a performance in the late 1920s. After seeing Baby Esther, Helen Kane adopted her style and began using “boops” in her songs as well.
When Betty Boop was introduced, Kane sued Fleischer and Paramount Publix Corporation stating they were using her image and style. However video evidence came to light of Baby Esther performing in a nightclub and the courts ruled against Helen Kane stating she did not have exclusive rights to the “booping” style or image, and that the style, in fact, pre-dated her. So understand: Kane tried to sue someone for stealing her style...a style that she stole.
Unfortunately, the 'baby style' did little to propel Baby Esther to fame, and she quietly passed away. But whenever you see Betty Boop, remember a black woman is responsible for that.