Helen Kane used to say "It's tough to have a million admirers but when you walk down the street nobody recognizes you."
She said it with humor and a smile so disarming you wanted to hop on a hydrant in Berkley Square and shout at the top of your lungs, "Here is Betty Boop alive and walking the streets of Saranac Lake."
Betty Boop was the sexiest star in the animated cartoon world from 1932 until the war years. In the 1930s the "famous" enjoyed recognition and welcomed the adulation they received from their fans and admirers. Most were easly recognized.
But Helen Kane was a "voice" and not a real person at all the way the cards were dealt. But then you might as well say that Helen Kane WAS betty Boop.
Her voice was satin and sugar cane. Betty Boop flirted her way to stardom with the help of 150 special-lu trained servants. If Helen was essentially one of the servants, she was certainly the most important by far.
Without Helen Kane Betty Boop would have remained a voiceless vestige, a relic of the silent picture era.
Her love for Saranac Lake came about through repeated trips to Will Rogers Hospital. She came not as a patient but as an entertainer, giving of her time and talent to brighten the Christmas holidays for many of Broadway and Hollywood's bedriden stars.
Her voice was comparable to that of Wee Bonnie Baker's with a touch of Marilyn Monroe. A single Betty Boop comedy reel required 14,000 drawings for every seven minutes of completed film.
Helen's voice had to be perfectly synchronized with the actions of the flirtatious Betty Boop.
Songs became famous when pouted through the cupid bow lips of america's most loved cartoon characters.
Since she was both a friend and always a "good story" many of our meetings took place at the railroad station on Depot Street as she was waiting to take the night train back to New York via Utica.
Helen Kane's voice was heard in the camp and up and down the shoreline for years, along with Ella Fitzgerald, Martha Tilton and Helen Forrest.
Since Helen Kane was in town at the time, I related the story of her and how her voice, thousands of miles away from home had made a soldier's loneliness bearable.
Helen demanded to meet him. Helen demanded to meet him, time was short and we set up a little champagne holiday "hug and speueeze" at the railroad. We got Helen in a picture rogether with a story for the paper, which pleased her immesely.
Helen died in 1966, intending to include n her memoirs the story of GI Steve Gregory and the record that gave him a boost when he needed it.
As she waved goodbye from the tran, she said she would send Steve the completed book, the watch and the best bottle of booze on the market.
But she died before the book was finished. Helen remains a part of Saranac Lake.