Esther Jones, more commonly known as “Baby Esther,” was known for her “baby” singing style. She performed in the 20’s at the Cotton Club in Harlem. Helen Kane adopted her style of singing, with the famous “boop-boop-boop” in a recording of “I Wanna Be Loved by You” Jones’ style went on to become the inspiration for the voice of the cartoon character, Betty Boop.
However, it is generally known that the face of the cartoon character was that of Helen Kane, who tried to claim that the voice was also hers.
In truth, it was Kane who adopted Jones’ voice after she heard her sing at the Cotton Club.
Kane tried to sue the company, saying that hers was the voice of the Betty Boop cartoon, but it was proved to be Esther’s voice.
As for the face, well, you be the judge.
by Mieke Tazelaar
Blogs > Culture and Society: Esther Jones