The woman best-known as the inspiration for the cartoon character Betty Boop was also a star in her own right. The tiny, plump Brooklynite was playing vaudeville with the Marx Brothers by the early 19...
Bronx, New York, USA
|Three Little Words||Voice||Singing Voice of Debbie Reynolds||6|
|Paramount on Parade||Actor||Guest Star||1|
|Pennies From Heaven||Song Performer||("I Want to Be Bad")||8000053|
|I Could Read the Sky||Costume Designer||n/a||13000005|
|The Boy From Mercury||Costumes||costume assistant||13000006|
|Crush Proof||Costume Supervisor||n/a||13000006|
|The Sun, the Moon and the Stars||Wardrobe||wardrobe mistress||13000009|
|Shrooms||Wardrobe Assistant||(Pick Up Shoot)||13000016|
|Retired from show business|
|Filed suit against Fleischer Studios (lost suit in 1934)|
|Played the Palace again|
|Signed with Paramount, made six films (first was "Nothing But the Truth", last was "Heads Up!")|
|Stage debut in vaudeville|
|Played the Palace for the first time|
|Became a star singing at the Paramount in Times Square|
Kane became an instant phenomenon, headlining at the Palace, earning $8,000 a week, inspiring look-alike contests, dolls and hordes of imitators. "I once got $5,000 at one of those big society parties just to sing four or five choruses of 'Button Up Your Overcoat,'" she later recalled. In 1929, Paramount signed Kane to make a series of musicals, beginning with "Nothing But the Truth" (1929). She was generally the comic second banana rather than the leading lady, but she was also usually the brightest part of such films as "Sweetie" and "Pointed Heels" (both 1929), and "Heads Up!" (1930). She was one of the many stars of "Paramount on Parade" and starred as "Dangerous Nan McGrew" (both 1930).
But abruptly, her vogue had ended by 1931 and she returned to vaudeville. Not helping matters was the Fleischer cartoon Betty Boop, created in 1930 by animator Grim Natwick as an obvious caricature of Kane and using sound-alike voice-overs Mae Questel, Bonnie Poe and Margy Hines, among others. The delightful, bawdy and outrageous cartoons completely put Kane in the shade, and she sued the studio in 1932 for wrongful appropriation of her image. Amazingly, she lost the suit and retired in 1935.
Kane had a brief comeback after providing a voice-over for Debbie Reynolds in the film "Three Little Words" (1950). She had a few happy years of theater and television appearances (including a stint at the Palace in 1956 and on "The Ed Sullivan Show") before her death from cancer in 1966.
|Daniel Healy||Husband||married 1939 till her death|
|On the origin of Boop-Boop-a-Doop: "I just put it in at one of the rehearsals. A sort of interlude. It's hard to explain--I haven't explained it to myself yet. It's like vo-de-o-do, Crosby with boo-boo-boo or Durante with cha-cha-cha." --Helen Kane, quoted in 1930s newspaper interview|
|On her retirement: "I was tired worn out, and I quit. I could have gone on ... I worked too hard until I knocked myself out. It was crazy ... I was rich but I wasn't having any fun. Before I was famous I always had a good time." --Helen Kane, quoted in 1950s newspaper interview|
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