The iconic cartoon character Betty Boop was inspired by a black jazz singer in Harlem. Introduced by cartoonist Max Fleischer in 1930, the caricature of the jazz age flapper was the first and most famous sex symbol in animation. Betty Boop is best known for her revealing dress, curvaceous figure, and signature vocals “Boop Oop A Doop!” While there has been controversy over who inspired the character, Betty Boop’s origin has been traced back to Esther Jones who was known as “Baby Esther” and performed regularly in the Cotton Club during the 1920s.
Baby Esther’s trademark vocal style used “boops” and other childlike scat sounds. While the animated character did little to bring her mainstream fame and she died in relative obscurity, a piece of her lives on in the iconic character Betty Boop.
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