Bronx Woman Helen Kane Was Inspiration For Betty Boop

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Helen Kane circa 1930 / IMAGE: HULTON-DEUTSCH COLLECTION/CORBIS

Born in 1904 in The Bronx and attended St Anselm’s Roman Catholic school on Tinton Avenue, Helen Clare Schroeder would eventually become the inspiration for one of the most iconic and lasting cartoon characters, Betty Boop.

Little did Helen Kane, a German-Irish Catholic woman from The Bronx (as she later became known), know that her likeness would set the globe ablaze as one of the first and most famous of all sex symbols in all the world of animation.

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Two years after the 1930 debut of Betty Boop, Kane sued due to unauthorized use of her likeness.

The courts didn’t side with her and said that she didn’t invent “booping” but that a young African American woman known as Baby Esther did.

Kane may have copied the signature style of singing but the main question was her physical likeness to which there was no question and most agree Betty Boop was based on Hellen Kane.

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IMAGE: OTTO DYAR/HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

Here’s to a Bronx woman who continues to live in many women’s hearts as a loveable cartoon character who, albeit perhaps had its root in a misogynistic culture, they have reclaimed her from those very clutches and turned her into their own symbol.

Check out Mashable’s article on Helen Kane aka Betty Boop.

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