Baby Esther
Baby Esther
Baby Esther

Esther Jones

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Gertrude Saunders

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Flo O'Brien

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Baby Esther was a popular entertainer at Harlem's Cotton Club in the late 1920s. Baby Esther interpolated words such as 'Boo-Boo-Boo' & 'Doo-Doo-Doo' in songs at a cabaret. Helen Kane saw Baby's act somewhere around 1927-1929 and had first used it in her Victor release "That's My Weakness Now" she had then used it again in her hit song from the musical Good Boy I Wanna Be Loved By You and became famous overnight. An early test sound film was also discovered, which featured Baby Esther performing in this style, disproving Kane's claims. Baby Esther's manager also testified that Helen had saw Baby Esther's cabaret act in 1928. Supreme Court Judge Edward J. MGGoldrick ruled: "The plaintiff has failed to sustain either cause of action by proof of sufficient probative force". In his opinion, the "baby" technique of singing did not originate with Kane. Other claims asked to Kane during the trial were that an witness claimed to have heard the phrase uttered in a Edith Griffith song, another defence asked if she had heard a 1913 song called Bou Dou Ba Da Boum to which Helen had denied. Due to Baby Esther being unable to attend the trial in the defence, three voices of Betty Boop, (Margie Hines), (Mae Questel) & (Bonnie Poe) were then focused on in the second part of the trial.  Helen attempted to prove that they performed their vocal shimmies in a way so similar to her that it constituted unfair competition.  When Max Fleischer, invented Betty Boop he was not only imitating Helen Kane but a whole image of women in the 1920s.  Helen Kane did not initiate the phraseology "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" even though she most certainly popularized it.  This catchy, inane line of scat was first used by a black entertainer by the name of Baby Esther. 

Baby Esther Referenced in Newspaper (1930)

Baby Esther Jones was referenced in 1930 in a newspaper that was referencing many African American performers.

There is a chocolate Helen Kane who boob-a-doops.

The article goes on to explain that there are a few African American comedians who are not allowed many opportunities therefore they make the best of what they get.

The newspaper then goes on about a black gal who sings and dances, with amusing indolence and makes a hit by being grotesque.

Evidence Against Kane

Edith Griffith, and Felix Mayol were also used as evidence against Helen Kane, but the old footage of Baby Esther performing the routine helped prove that Helen Kane was not the "first" Boop-Oop-a-Doop singer in the business.

Helen Kane Is Not Original

Helen Kane Is Not The Original

A medley of strange unintelligible sounds came today from the court room where Helen Kane's big boop-boop-a-doop trial is being heard.  There was a "boop" or two then a "doo-doo-doo" finally "wha-da-da-da!"

Everyone especially the court stenographer was confused.  The stenographer's knowledge of spelling did not transcend the dicitionary.   The assortment of noises came during the attempts of the defense to show that the art of "booping" was not original with Helen Kane. That the responsibility rested with others who had preceded her on stage.

Miss Kane is seeking $250,000 damages from Max Fleischer, cartoonist, the Fleischer Studios and Paramount Publix corporation on the ground that the Betty Boop screen cartoons constitute larceny on her mannerisms and song technique.  Testifying for the defence Lou bolton, theatrical manager said that one of his stage proteges, Esther Jones a Negro woman had interpolated songs with syliables similar to Miss Kane's as long ago as 1925.

In 1928, Bolton continued , Miss Kane and her manager attended a performance of Miss Jones whose stage name was Baby Esther in a New York night club just a few weeks later he said Miss Kane began to "boop" at a theater here.  Then followed an exhaustive retracing of the history of "boop-boop-a-doopery".


Information provided by Ray Pointer (Fleischer Historian): The film of "Baby" Esther was a double system sound technique like Vitaphone. Lou Fleischer told me the whole story. The film did not "break" at the point of the Boop-Oop-a-Doop part. They did not show this in court. What happened was the print has been spliced in several places due to breakage and went out of sync at the crucial point due to the lost frames. Lou and Kitty Pfister, head Film Cutter stayed up all night locating spots to insert black film slugs to replace the lost frames to put the crucial spot back in sync. A new married print with optical sound was produced, the Paramount News Lab being kept open all night waiting for this to present as evidence the next morning. The remark about Justice McGoldrick being "bribed" is a conclusion not based on fact. There was enough remaining evidence to prove Miss Kane's case. However since there is a Film Faily Trade Ad that places a picture of Helen Kane next to an early version of Betty Boop. Further evidence can be found in the tampering with the original negative to "Stopping the Show", which was built around Mae Questel's stage act impressions, which prompted Max Fleischer in hiring her. This is the first official Betty Boop cartoon which consists of a series of contemporary celebrities.  Each is introduced by a photograph of that celebrity with animated lips and the voice of that celebrity coming from the picture. Only the voice of Maurice Chevalier is authentic.  The voice of Fanny Brice is an imitation by Mae Questel. Oddly, the sequence begins with Betty going right into "That's My Weakness Now", a song made popular by Helen Kane.  This song is not set up by the celebrity picture on the easel as the others are. You hear an audio splice from the audience applause going to the song.  At two points there is a Long Shot, one of which Pans from the stage to the audience. In the backround is an image on a easel that looks like the image of Helen Kane. Why else would it be there? This direct reference to Helen Kane was deliberately removed from the negative so that a new print could be shown in court that would not indicate an edit. But it clearly was removed from the negative. Paramount took advantage of the ignorance of film technology on the part of court, which accepted what they saw not knowing what had been done to alter the evidence.

Lou Walton

Lou Walton (Sometimes his second name is mistaken for Bolton) was Baby Esther's manager.  Baby Esther did not attend the trial, but Lou Walton spoke in the Fleischers and Paramounts defence.

Defence Attorney: What sounds did she (Baby Esther) interpolate?

Lou Walton: Boo-Boo-Boo! (Recited Walton)

Defence Attorney: What other sounds?

Lou Walton: Doo-Doo-Doo

Defence Attorney: Any others?

Lou Walton: Yes, Wha-Da-Da-Da (Said Walton tiring a little)

The court stenographer broke down at this point, He threw his hands into the air as a gesture of despair and announced he would need aid in spelling the "meaningless sounds" .

Walton could not give him any aid, Philips did however. 

Other defence witnesses were Bonnie Poe and Margie Hines who's voices were used in the Betty Boop films.

The Afro American Newspaper (1934)

In 1934 the Afro American newspaper stated:

Baby Esther originated the Boop-a-Doop style of singing, and Helen Kane white movie an radio star barefacedly swiped it and made a fortune from it a court trial reveals as Miss Kane sues imitators, "Mae QuestelBonnie PoeLittle Ann LittleKate WrightMargie Hines of the Boop style. T'would be logical now for Baby Esther to sue Miss Kane to even things all around.  Meaning the newspaper stated that Baby Esther "should" have sued Kane, but she didn't, most likely because she was presumed "dead" by her manager, and probably didn't even know what was going on, because she used to perform in the Cotton Club in the early 20s and several years had passed since then.

The Boop Song Is Traced

Witness in Helen Kane's Suit Says Negro Girl Originated Style.

Evidence that syllables similar to Helen Kane's "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" were sung before she began to use them was offered before Supreme Court Justice McGoldrick yesterday in the trial of Miss Kane's $250,000 suit against Max Fleischer, the Fleischer Studios and the Paramount Publix Corporation on the grounds that they imitated her (Helen's) style in the Betty Boop cartoons. Lou Walton, theatrical manager testified that Baby Esther a Negro girl under his management has iterpolated words like "boo-boo-boo" and "doo-doo-doo" in songs at a cabaret here in 1928.

Oyla (Cosplay Artist)

A photo of a Russian model known as Model Oyla  who posed in several photographs as Betty Boop in which went viral and has been seen by millions of people on the internet where the photo has been mistaken as Baby Esther, and or Helen Kane.

Reason For Mistaken Photograph?

The reason as to why the photoshoot of Oyla was mistaken for Baby Esther was because "HelloBeautiful's" Lifestyle Editor Danielle Young posted the photo of the "white" Russian cosplayer dressed up as Betty Boop and claimed it was Baby Esther without researching the origin of the photograph, which made people believe the photograph was actually "Baby Esther", and also lead people to believe Betty Boop was of mixed-race heritage/Mulatto.

Baby Esther Jones Mistaken For Another Esther Jones

Esther Mae Phillips (not to be confused with Baby Esther) originally born "Esther "Mae" Jones" sometimes referred to as just "Esther Jones" in her earlier career was a blues singer or more or less a versatile singer who sung soul music, pop, country and mainly R&B. Little Esther who had debuted in the 1940's as "Little Esther" and sometimes "Little Esther Phillips".  Her career had kicked off in "1950" with her first hit record entitled "Double Crossing Blues".  When "Baby EstherBoop originator became viral, "Baby Esther" was mistaken for "Little Esther" aka Esther Mae Phillips (originally known as Esther Jones) due to confusion. In 1954 "Esther Phillips" was arrested for street walking and suspicion of narcotics addiction by Los Angeles police. Esther Mae Phillips died in 1984 due to liver and kidney failure due to drugs use. Her funeral services were conducted by Johnny Otis. She was buried in the Morning Light section at Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles. The bronze marker recognizes her career achievements, as well as quoting a Bible passage: "In My Father's House Are Many Mansions" - St. John 14:2.

Real Identity

Baby Esther may have been a "stage name" in late October 1934 a woman by the name of Gertrude Saunders was featured in the Afro American as the Original Boop-Boop-a-Doop Girl. Gertrude was then referenced in 1938 where it was declared that she debuted in the Cotton Club and that she was figured prominently at the "Boop-a-Doop"  $250,000 trial of Helen Kane and Betty Boop who both claimed they originated the funny twist which was also a radio rage.  Gertrude declaired that it was "she" who actually started booping before Helen Kane and Betty Boop. Gertrude was lastly referenced  in June 1950 as "originator" of Boop-Boop-a-Doop made famous by Helen Kane, and was boosted alongside other famous faces such as Ella Fitzgerald and Rose "Chi Chi" Murphy who had also started to Boop, but instead of Booping she'd add her own twist which was Chi-Boop-Chi-Boop, as she was known as the Chi-Chi Girl which was a pun on the Boop-Boop-a-Doop Girl.

Gertrude Saunders as Flo O' Brien (1939)

In my opionion Gertrude Saunders a veteran actress of the stage a "coined" "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" which brought fame to Betty Kane (Helen Kane a mixture of Betty Boop and Helen Kane) is the real star of the "Swing Radio" despite all arguments the contrary she does a beautiful bit of show stealing. Adverbs for the Paramount theatre.  The tabloid edition run "Swing Miakdo" simply billed as "Flo 'O Brien" because she was a sensational star.

Black History Month (2016)

Baby Esther Jones was put on the spotlight for Black History Month (2016) where she was praised. It was dubbed that she was the true inspiration behind the creation of Boop Boop a Doop.


Esther Jones-001:12

Esther Jones-0


  • Baby Esther had been booping since 1925, whereas Felix Mayol had booped in 1913. 
  • Esther's manager also testified that Helen Kane & her manager saw baby's act somewhere between 1928-1929.
  • Scholar Robert G.O' Meally said, Betty Boop herself had, as it were, a black grandmother in her backround.
  • Baby Esther was presumed dead by 1934, presumed meaning that she might, or might not have died.
  • Lou Bolton testified for the defense. Bolton testified that nine years ago in Chicago he taught Baby Esther a negro child under his management to interpolate "do-do-de-do-ho-de-wa-da-de-da" between the bars of music in popular songs, which mixes things up, due to the fact that the scat lyrics she produced wasn't Boo Boo Boo's & Doo Doo Doo's, but later adapted to Boop.
  • Baby Esther became viral online people thought Esther Phillips (Little Esther) and Baby Esther were the same person.
  • A woman by the name of Gertrude Saunders "claims" that she was the woman (Baby Esther) featured at the lawsuit event and claimed to have been the originator of "Boop Boop a Doop".


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