This article is about Baby Esther Lee Jones. Not to be confused with Little Esther Phillips. See Gertrude Saunders for the originator of Boop-Boop-a-Doop. 

Little Esther Lee Jones

Baby Esther
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Esther Jones
Baby Ester
Little Ester
Bay Esther
Lil' Esther
Farina's Kid Sister
Baby Esther Lee Jones
Little Esther
Little Esta
Little Hester
Little Lester
Child Wonder
Child Prodigy
Miniature Florence Mills
Miniature Josephine Baker
The Black Baby
Black Mistinguett
Sepia Dancing Doll

Baby Esther Lee Jones originally billed (Lil' Little Esther) was a child entertainer who lived in Chicago, Illinois. She was managed by her mother Gertrude Jones and her father William Jones. Esther was a trained scat singer, dancer and acrobat who used to perform regularly at nightclubs in Harlem and all over the United States in the early 1920s. During the 1920s prior and up to 1928, Baby Esther performed in Chicago, New York, St. Louis, Michigan, Jackson, Michigan, Toronto, Ontario, Atlantic City, Elizabeth, Union City and New Jersey. In her act Baby Esther would dance, make funny faces, roll her eyes and interpolated words such as "Boo-Boo-Boo", "Wha-Da-Da","Doo-Doo-Doo" & "Do-Do-De-Do-Ho-De-Wa-Da-De-Da," "Boo-Did-Do-Doo," "Lo-Di-De-Do," and would finish off her routine with a "De-Do". A majority of these scat techniques were taught to Esther by her manager at the time Lou Bolton. Bolton claimed that in Chicago he taught Esther how to interpolate "scat singing" between the bars of music in popular songs. Other scat sounds Esther used to interpolate include "Roop-Woop-a-Woop," "Ud-Up-Deo-Do," "Skeet Scat," "Bup-Bup," "Poo-Poo-a-Doo" and Esther was even said to have used "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" as it was a very popular phrase in 1928. However Esther Jones' contribution to the phrase originates in her original scat interpolations. In 1928, Esther's handlers were brought into court andbett were fined for having an underage child working at nightclubs till 3:00 a.m in the morning. Esther was remanded in the custody of the Children's Society until the case was disposed of. The manager Russian-American Lou Bolton was charged with permitting a minor to perform, and the parents, William Jones and Gertrude Jones, were charged with improper guardianship. Helen Kane first saw Esther perform in 1928, in which she had a ringside seat with Tony Shayne (booking agent for both Kane and Jones) at the Everglades Club on Broadway. According to Lou Bolton, Esther debuted her "Boops" in early 1928. "Roop-Woop-a-Woop" was one of the many scat interpolations used by Esther Jones, which sort of sounds similar to Helen's "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" routine that she debuted in the same year. It was said that Helen Kane had adapted the scat sounds she had heard Esther interpolate and changed one of the latter to "Poop Poop Padoop," first using it in the Broadway musical Good Boy in which she interpolated the scat sounds into the hit song "I Wanna Be Loved By You" in which she became famous overnight. Helen also used a variety of scat sounds in her 1928 Victor song releases; "That's My Weakness Now" and "Get Out and Get Under the Moon". Kane didn't release the hit Broadway song "I Wanna Be Loved By You" on record until the 20th of September, 1928. An early test sound film was discovered which featured Baby Esther performing in this unique style, disproving Kane's claims of inventing the scat lyrics "Boop-Boop-a-Doop". Baby Esther's ex-manager Bolton testified that Helen Kane had saw Baby Esther's cabaret act in 1928 with Tony Shayne, and then not too long after suddenly started to scat sing in shows. Supreme Court Judge Edward J. McGoldrick ruled: "The plaintiff has failed to sustain either cause of action by proof of sufficient probative force." In his opinion, the "baby" technique and "scat" style 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 defense asked if Helen 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 defense, Little Ann Little and the other 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. Today in media Baby Esther is mistaken for a grown woman rather than a child, due to several misleading sources claiming that Baby Esther was a woman. The real Baby Esther was actually a child performer and she was the first child to perform at adult nightclubs. At the Everglades Nite Club in 1928, she would often impersonate her idol Florence Mills and was known as a Florence Mills impersonator, and was also known as the next Florence Mills. Mills was known to incorporate a "Tooty-Tooty-Too" into one of her songs years earlier. At the Everglades, Esther would sing Florence Mills' most famous songs and would also dance and often uttered her "Do-Do-De-Do-Ho-De-Wa-Da" on stage, a unique scat singing style, which is said to have originated from other black stars. Florence Mills was likely the inspiration, who in turn was emulating "scat singing" originator Gertrude Saunders. 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 in "alternative scat form" by a black child entertainer by the name of Baby Esther, Kane adapted it. The newspapers had a field day with the story and it later came out that Gertrude Saunders was the female scat originator and had first used it before Esther Jones in the all-black Broadway musical Shuffle Along. Baby Esther aka Little Esther was sort of like the black version of Baby Rose Marie, better yet, the black Shirley Temple of her time, as Rose Marie didn't dance in her act. There are people who tried to erase Esther from history, but it is a known fact that she existed. As when there was no image of her, they even went to the length of saying she didn't exist, but then when real images surfaced, they quickly changed their story, as to suddenly she existed. When it is a known fact where Helen Kane got her idea to scat sing in the first place, and everyone in history has known since 1934 where the "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" origins lie. Even through the 1940s, 1970s, and 1980s, Esther had been cited as the "original" scat singer who inspired Helen Kane to scat sing. It was later brought back up in 2014, by black media outlets who followed a "Betty Boop Checks" source and the story went viral from there. Other false information is that Baby Esther performed regularly at the Cotton Club, it was actually Baby DeLeon. Esther did perform at Cab Calloway's club, but not regularly. Esther was honored along with Josephine Hall in 1930, for representing African-Americans and the United States of America when she toured Europe. Today Baby Esther is best known as Betty Boop's black grandmother. In a recently discovered 1937 Brazilian article by the Betty Boop Wikia, it states that Esther might have married a South Carolina worker, and that she had formed and danced in a dance troupe in Harlem. 



  • Baby Esther Jones: "Who? Josephine Baker? I do not know." (Paris, 1929)
  • Baby Esther Jones: "Of all of the countries I know, Spain has the richest cooking. It is making me fat and I am worried." (Madrid, 1929)
  • Baby Esther Jones: "I like sharks a lot." (Nederland, 1929)
  • Baby Esther Jones: "I love the Parisians." (Nederland, 1929)
  • Baby Esther Jones: "It's my mother! And I love her very much." (Nederland, 1929)
  • Baby Esther Jones: "I had so far escaped their wrath by staying out of the South." (Brazil, 1932)
  • Lou Bolton: "She is known as Li'l Esther, Baby Esther." (New York Supreme Court, 1934)
  • Lou Bolton: "I was first introduced to Miss Kane at Tony Shayne's office, Broadway at 47th Street. Tony was the agent for Baby Esther in New York City." (New York Supreme Court, 1934)

Baby Esther's Biography

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In 1929, Esther won a contract and toured the European continent. While touring Europe she became famous, most promptly in Paris. After Paris, Esther went to Spain, Berlin, Oslo, Sweden, Milan and London. Her manager originally was Russian-American Lou Bolton, but he was fired in Paris for Jim Crowing the Jones family out of their rightful earnings. Esther's new Parisian manager Sydney Garner led her to success. Esther toured in Ernst Rolf's revue from 1929-1930. After touring Europe, Esther went to Brazil where she proved to be a hit, but later returned to America when Sydney Garner fell ill.

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Once Esther returned to America, she became a dancer for Cab Calloway and then toured the vaudeville circuit under the name "Little Esther the Sepia Dancing Doll." She was also booked by The National in Helena Justa's revue called the Harlem Maniacs from 1933 to 1934. Esther was also present in the United States while the Betty Boop suit was taking place, but she did not comment or respond to her name being brought up in the lawsuit, most likely to Lou Bolton having Jim Crowed her in Paris. In July of 1934, Esther took part in an all-black NAACAP benefit show. It stated that by then Esther had too much art and finesse, and that she was born of her extensive travel and contacts and that after her performance, applause usually followed the more abandoned type of expression. Esther is last referenced in September of 1934. It stated that Esther Jones did acrobatics at Bill "Bojangles" Robinson benefit show. It is stated that Esther became a full-time acrobat and continued to perform on the stage. But by late 1934, Esther's popularity died down and there were new black child performers on the scene taking the spotlight, such as the Kiddie Radio Group. Baby Hilda and Baby Selma succeeded Baby Esther. Baby Selma from Philadelphia was considered to be the next Florence Mills.

Official Betty Boop

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The official Betty Boop acknowledges Baby Esther. Over the years, Esther has often been referenced on the official website as originator, when the Helen Kane lawsuit has been referenced. Esther is also referenced on the official Fleischer Studios website, in defense that Helen Kane's "scat singing" technique was not original. The "baby-talk" singing style is usually left out, because it was a common singing style that went back the the 1900s, making Irene Franklin the originator of the baby singing style. All this came out in court when Kane tried to lay claim to being original, she was outed as not being original. Although, Kane did make "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" famous and she influenced Grim Natwick to create Betty Boop. Grim Natwick was the original creator of Betty Boop, and he stated that he used a photograph of Helen Kane to create Betty Boop for the 1930 Talkartoon titled Dizzy Dishes. Although when this was taken to court, Grim Natwick who had ties to the Fleischer Studios back then, decided not to speak out until after Max Fleischer died. Grim tried to fight for the copyright for Betty Boop, as Max had once promised to give Betty's copyright to Natwick, but before Max died he did not return Betty to Natwick. Grim Natwick lost his lawsuit because when he created Betty Boop in 1930, he was employed by the Fleischer Studios, making Betty the property of the Fleischers. So when Fleischer died and Grim sued and lost, he later just came out with the truth and stated that Helen was the original base for Betty Boop and that Betty's original concept was just purely based on Helen Kane's fame. Of course by 1932, Mae Questel (who was somewhat similar to Helen Kane) then served as base for Betty Boop. During the $250,000 Infringement Lawsuit Helen Kane's attorney Samuel Weltz claimed that the footage of Baby Esther singing was irrelevant, incompetent and immaterial and stated that Esther Jones was a Helen Kane impersonator. He was denied by the court.

Lou Bolton and Little Esther Jones

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Lou Bolton conducted a theatrical school in the City of Pittsburgh where he taught children and adults dancing, singing, dramatic art and anything pertaining to the show business in general. Lou had been engaged in the business in the city of Chicago since 1922 and had been in show business for 20 years. Bolton first met Little Esther in 1923, where he saw her performing at The Sunset Club in Chicago, Illinois. When Bolton became her manager she was a Charleston dancer and danced in the streets of Chicago. The songs sung by Baby Esther that were shown on the sound motion picture in court were "Don't Be Like That," "Is There Anything Wrong In That?" and "Wa-Da-Da". The controversy of Esther singing two Helen Kane songs may have been down to the fact that Helen had saw Esther's earlier performances, as both Kane and Jones had the same booking agent in 1928. According to reports Esther delivered her "Boops" in April, 1928, and Helen had delivered hers not too long after, in which she used in Goodboy a Broadway musical which was a hit which made Helen famous overnight. The footage showing Esther performing the Helen Kane songs was more or less likely Esther showing tribute to Kane, as she would have known that Kane had taken direct inspiration from her early act. If the footage featured was rigged, it wouldn't have shown Esther performing her unique "Wa-Da-Da" technique, one of the many scat techniques used by Jones in which inspired Helen to scat sing in the first place. Esther's career took off one year later in 1929, when she was given a contract to tour Europe. In her prime Esther Jones was the highest paid child performer in the world.

Baby Esther's "Wa-Da-Da / Wha-Da-Da" Technique?

One of Esther Jones' many scat singing interpolations was "Wa-Da-Da" / "Wha-Da-Da," animated cartoon character Betty Boop has actually used this "Wa-Da-Da" technique in several cartoons, some of which include A Language All My Own, The New Deal Show and Betty Boop's Trial.

To listen to Betty Boop use this technique, click "Betty Boop Using Alternative Scat Rhythm" in her cartoons. 

Margie Hines, the original voice of Betty Boop also used this "Wa-Da-Da" technique, in which she admitted during the $250,000 Infringement Lawsuit

Baby Esther's Songs

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Apart from performing two Helen Kane songs and her unique "Wa-Da-Da" song, Baby Esther's official trademark songs were "My Mammy" and "Sonny Boy". Harrison Godwin Smith furnished Esther with several songs to take to Europe with her. See Baby Esther's Songs (live performances) for more information. Valid information given from old newspaper archives from the 1920s is that Esther Jones singing voice sounded like a flute. 


Ernst Rolf - "Pojken min" (Sonny Boy)

Ernst Rolf's version of "Sonny Boy" was released by Odeon in 1929, but Esther is not featured on the track. It gives an insight that Ernst Rolf would have most likely sung the song to Esther, as Al Jolson did to Davey Lee in The Singing Fool


Rolf's Revy (1929)

Instrumental that Esther used to dance to in the revue was also recorded for Odeon in 1929. The release was instrumental only, but features music that Esther would have danced to.

Farina's Kid Sister


Max Davidson and Farina (1929)

When Esther first started out in show business her name "Lil' Esther" was a play on "Lil' Farina" (Allen Hoskins) character from the Our Gang (Little Rascals) comedy film shorts. In the earlier films, Farina (played by Hoskins) was a real boy who portrayed a girl on screen. Later in the series the fictional character of Farina was changed from girl to boy. In 1926, Esther Jones was often billed as Farina's Sister. According to a 1926 article, Little Farina (Allen Hoskins) and his little sister Baby Jane (Jannie Hoskins) were also Charleston dancers and Farina was an expert, proving that Esther Jones manager used Farina's fame to promote Esther. While touring Europe, Esther was often compared to Farina.

Miniature Florence Mills


Florence Mills

According to sources Baby Esther based her act and singing style on Florence Mills and would often impersonate her. At the Everglades Nite Club in 1928, Esther Jones would often incorporate Mills' style into her act. Florence Mills had died a year before Esther started taking on Mills' persona. Florence Mills was known for using a "Tooty-Tooty-Too" in her song "Baby and Me," in a higher pitch obbligato, kind of like a flute.

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In Florence Mills' earlier career she was known as Baby Flo. Florence later hit the limelight by substituting for Gertrude Saunders in the musical Shuffle Along, the same musical in which Saunders originated "Boop-Boop-a-Doop". The scat singing technique in general originated in African-American night clubs and is mostly associated with jazz.

The Life, Music and Times of Carlos Gardel (1986)

Baby Esther (Little Esther) is referenced in The Life, Music, and Times of Carlos Gardel by Simon Collier on page 115. In which Gardel shared a bill with Little Esther, "a Josephine Baker in miniature," the roller-skating acrobats Van Horn and Inez and a chimpanzee called Djibo, who did a trapeze routine. 

The Middling Sorts (2001)

In Burton J. Bledstein book The Middling Sorts: Explorations in the History of the American Middle Class originally published in 2001, it says that in Jack L. Cooper's essay "The Negro Runs Riot With The Stage," that dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson's record run at the Palace Theatre, as well as those local performers such as the Byron brothers and Little Esther Jones. The book was given a digital release in 2013.

Paris Blues (2014)

Little Esther is also referenced on page 49 in Paris Blues: African American Music and French Popular Culture, 1920-1960 by Andy Fry which was released in 2014.

Tropical Travels (2018)

Little Esther is referenced on page 24 in Tropical Travels: Brazilian Popular Performance, Transnational Encounters, and the Construction of Race which was released by Lisa Shaw in 2018. The book states that in June 1931 Gordon Stretton, who was accompanied by his jazz band teamed up with the Afro-American child star Little Esther, an acrobatic dancer, who was billed by the press as "Josephine Baker's legitimate successor." Stretton would impersonate Al Jolson at Rio's Eldorado Theatre, singing "Sonny Boy" and "My Mammy," the latter in duet with Little Esther. Preempting Josephine Baker's adoption of this Afro-Brazilian persona in Rio in 1939. Little Esther also performed in the city as a baiana during the tour.  

The Milwaukee Sentinel (1926)

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On the stage "The Cansinos" Spanish dancers and Lil' Esther Jones 'Chocolate Drop.'

Exhibitors Herald (1926)


Li'l Esther, four-year-old colored girl Charleston dancer, stepping the house into a riot. Givot came back to finish with her and the show closed with the crowd screaming.

The Pittsburgh Courier (1926)

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Covan & Ruffin, playing a return engagement last week at the Mc-Vicker Theater, Chicago, proved show stoppers at every performance, their acrobatic dancing going over as a sensational feature. Lil' Esther a five-year-old Charleston prodigy, was also a great sensation at McVicker's Theater, Chicago, last week. She was used as a closer for the bill which carried Covan & Ruffin.

Detroit Free Press from Detroit Michigan (1928)

Other stars from the Capitol's anniversary show to be heard over WGHP Include Roy Sedley, who will net as master of ceremonies, McKensle und Bishop, harmony duo. In popular numbers; Louise Mas-sart "blues singer"; the Capitol Birthday Oris, and Li'l Esther, six-year-old piccaninny, in typical "hot" numbers. (Detroit Free Press)

$100 Fine For Minor (1928)


Manager and booker of 7-year-old pleaded guilty. For permitting a seven-year-old girl to appear publicly and dance and song act without obtaining a permit, Louis Bolton, theatrical manager and booking agent of 1376 Broadway, and William Jones, decorator, of 44 West 98th street, were each fined $100 in Special Sessions. The two pleaded guilty to the charge. Both men were arrested on the complaint of agents of the Children's Society after the latter had witnessed Esther Jones, the minor daughter of one of the defendants, do an imitation of the late Florence Mills at the Everglades nite club, June 13. The officers told the Justices that the child did her act at the club at 9pm and again about midnight. 

Lil' Esther for Talker (1928)

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Lil' Esther, child (colored) vaudeville performer, has been signed for a talking short by Movietone. Booked through William Morris. 

The Times-Union, Albany, N.Y (1928)

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A sad situation at that, these benefit shows. Performers wanting to do their share for charity must wait around for hours. Some never get on the stage after being invited many weeks ahead. A big name, arriving suddenly, is always pushed on before the lesser light, who may be bigger of heart. Doris Nurlinger's mother broke into tears back stage because they manipulated Li'l Esther, Harlem's miniature, to the fore.

The Pittsburgh Courier (1928)

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Little Lil Esther, who had for the past week starred at the Capitol Theatre, entertained the guests. (February 4, 1928)

 Lou Bolton Has a Find (1929)


Lou Bolton, for several years, an independent theatrical agent in Chicago, has finally fallen into good luck. Lou has a protege called Li'l Esther, who is called "The Miniature Florence Mills." The child has just finished a four years' training under Bolton's management and recently won a European engagement through her New York success. Her eccentric dancing and her inimitable singing places her in a position as the most phenomenal juvenile in the profession.

New York Billboard, (1929)

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L'il Esther colored prodigy, has been booked for a string of European dates, arranged thru the Davidow-Sherman office. She has been playing picture houses and clubs of late, under the personal direction of Lou Bolton, who remains as her personal manager.

Lil' Esther Jones (1929)

(Afro-American, April 6, 1929)

Lil Esther to Paris (1929)

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Signed for a six weeks' engagement at the Empire in Paris, Li'l Esther, the child eccentric dancer, leaves today on the Leviathan.

"Baby Esther" a Hit in Paris (1929)

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"Baby Esther" Jones, who sailed a few weeks ago for Europe, headlined last week at the Empire Theater in Paris. She has been heralded as child wonder of Paris and is creating a sensation wherever she appears.

Little Esther Red Hot (1929)


Little Esther, who recently opened at the Empire (vaudeville), is doing exceptionally well for a red hot interpreter of the latest in jazz. She's a little over the heads of the natives but is drawing considerable applause at each performance.

Lou Bolton's Troubles (1929)


Lou Bolton, manager of Little Esther, left suddenly for New York on the America, March 19. Partnership dissolved by mother of colored child. Understood French negro, Jacques Garnier, used as interpreter, stirred up trouble.

Baby Esther at the Moulin Rouge (1929)

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"Baby Esther" Jones, who was taken to Paris by Lou Bolton, white, is still all the rage at the Moulin Rouge, where she is appearing with Abe Lyman's band, and will soon leave for an engagement in Madrid Spain. After a fight with her mother about her contract, Bolton has returned to the States, leaving her under the management of a colored Parisian.

The Billboard (1929)


Little Esther, the little Chicago entertainer, is at the Theater Monumenta in Mandrid. 

Le Petit Parisien: Little Esther (1929)


Little Esther a un visage terriblement expert, où luisent des yeux lourds d'ex périence et où grimace une bouche sinueuse, épaisse, énorme, multiforme et informe, une bouche de cauchemar, en vérité. Quand elle danse, Little Esther est drôle, mais quand elle chante on ne voit plus que cette bouche comme une chose vivante et monstrueuse dans son visage de caoutchouc, une chose rouge et molle et qui, n'était la couleur, rappellerait ces méduses aux souplesses incroyables que nous montre le cinéma dans les documen-taires.

Stage Celebrities Heard at Jewish Guild Benefit (1929)

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The annual benefit for the Charity Fund of the Jewish Theatrical Guild of America was presented to a packed house last night at the Century Theater. A three-and-a-half-hour program with personal appearances and bits by many well-known artistes was interspersed by introductory talks by Captain Irving O'Hay. Harry Hershfield. S. Jay Kaufman. Loney Haskell and William Morris. Among those who appeared were Sophie Tucker, Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra. B.A Rolfe and his Orchestra. Essie Mayo and his Harmonica Boys, Jack Osterman, Vincent Lopez. Fred Vadja, Lola Menzell, Mary Nash, W.C. Kelly, Eva Galliene, Leon Errol, James Wolfe, Mitzi and an ensemble from Madcap, Milt Gross, Buck Jones. Will Mahoney, Norma Terris, Alexander Carr, Weber and Fields, Pat Rooney and Pat Rooney 3d, Helen Grobus, Lester Allen. Miller and Lyles, Louis Mann, Elliot Dexter, Clayton. Jackson and Durante and Little Esther, colored prodigy. An interesting feature was the rendering by lopez of Just a Memory, as a tribute to the late Nora Bayes.

Insult to U. S. A. Child Abroad, Year's Biggest Scandal (1929)

After Lou Bolton returned to the US, Sidney Garner was Esther's new manager. Little Esther, the ten-year-old dancing wonder, accompanied by her mother, Mrs. Jones of Chicago, and her manager, Sidney Garner. (Afro-American, Oct, 5, 1929)

The Billboard (1929)

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The Moulin Rouge closed on Sunday night for a period of several weeks during which the auditorium and stage will be modernized. Little Esther, Chicago dance prodigy will probably be featured of the new revue of the Casino de Paris, and directress of a new nightclub Sammy Pierce is presenting May Alix the Chicago entertainer, as a feature of the new show at the Plantation. Jack Holland and Nitza Vernille have been booked to dance at the Lido, now under the management of M Rouger. proprietor of the Hotel de Paris. 

The Billboard (1929)

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Little Esther, colored child prodigy leaves for Spain at the close of her engagement at the Moulin Rouge to appear at the Eldorado in Barcelona. 

Lil Esther Guest of Spanish King (1929)

Ten year old girl dancer also at fete honoring King of Portugal. Earns $750 weekly foreign language press lavish in praise. Little Esther, the ten-year-old colored child, who has been astonishing Europe by her marvelous mimicry and dancing, was the principal attraction at a fete. (Afro-American, December 14, 1929)

"Lil' Esther Jones" (1929)


Baby Esther Jones highest paid child dancer, who was taken abroad by the Dancers News Bureau 1537 Broadway, Suite 308, Miss Jones receives a weekly salary of $750 per week.

How Much You Know (1929)

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Baby Esther was referenced in a 1929 article to how much people know, Baby Esther was placed at number five.

Theatrical Review (1930)

Ethel Waters becomes Keith-Albee star. Little Esther Jones gets a $750 contract in Europe. (Afro-American, Jan 4, 1930)

She Makes 'em All Take Notice (1930)


Little Esther Jones, of Chicago, Illinois, the ten-year-old stage prodigy of song and dance fame. She is shown with her Norwegian prize dog during her visit to the land of the "midnight sun." She has been highly distinguished on her continental tour.

Little Esther (1930)

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Little Esther the rage of the European continent. Headlining everywhere! Manager: Sydney Garner. 

Theater Notes (1930)

Li'l Esther, dancer, still hit in Europe. Child star leaves Berlin for engagement at theatre in Oslo, Sweden. Salary $800 weekly. Unable to fill all engagements that are offered. Little Esther, who has the reputation of being the highest paid child artist in the world has left Berlin for Oslo. (Afro-American, July 12, 1930)

The Billboard (1930)


Little Esther, famous colored juvenile star, is now appearing at three houses in Berlin, the Wintergarten, the Kabaret der Komiker and the Plaza.

The Billboard (1930)


Kabaret der Kimiker has Little Esther, Karinaka and Rylber, and Rio and Santos the current month, with the usual cabaret additions.

The Billboard (1930)


Little Esther returns to the Kabaret der Kimiker September 1 after a successful month in Oslo.

The Billboard (1930)


Little Esther returns in December to the Ufa Palace in Hamburg.

The Billboard (1930)

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Ernest Rolf is presenting an excellent revue at his China Theater in Stockholm. Among the features are the American comedians, Short and Long (Crabtree and Sturgess). Olympe Branda, the young acrobatic dancer Little Esther, the Negro dancer. Josephine Hall, the radio entertainer. The 10 Gordon Ray Girls an the 42 Rolf's Girls. The Frank Pichel Trio of clowns are at the Medica in Bologne, Italy.

Honored (1930)

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Two years later at the age of 10 after touring several countries Baby Esther who was also a dancer, shared honors with Josephine Hall, both of which represented their race as well as the United States. Miss Hall was chosen for this unusual engagement through the appreciation of her radio and night club presentations, having appeared with great success at the Cotton Club and Plantation. The production was a highly selected conglomeration of international stars representing a dozen European countries. She shared honors with Baby Esther Lee Jones, 10-year-old dancer of Chicago, who represented their race as well as the United States.

Little Esther Now So. America Bound (1931)


Paris-(Afro Bureau) - Little Esther, whose dancing has captivated theatre-goers of many large European cities to Marseillies, to take ship for South America, where she is to make a six-months' tour. Accompanying her is her sister, Miss Jones of Chicago, and her manager, Sydney Garner, of New York. While in Paris, Little Esther, who is 12 years of age, was received on the stage of the Casino de Paris by Josephine Baker, and presented with a box of candy. The little star was heartily applauded by the audience.

The Billboard (1931)

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Little Esther, colored juvenile star from Chicago, will appear at the Empire in February. (February, 21, 1931)

German Theatre Still Raving Over Esther (1931)

Chicago 12-year-old drawing over a thousand a week. (Afro-American, Mar 28, 1931)

Brazilian Navy Band Played For Lil' Esther (1931)

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Little Esther, whose dancing and mimicry have delighted European royalty and theatergoers continues her success in South America. In Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, San Paulo, and Montevideo the phenomenal little artist has proved a sensation. At Rio de Janeiro American Ambassador Morgan came to see her play and after the performance came back stage to congradulate her and said it was simply marvelous that she could sing in so many different languages. He invited her to sing for him at the American Embassy and at a party at which the president of the Brazilian republic was present and the elite of society. The little colored star from Chicago again made a big hit. The Brazilian president warmly congradulated her and signed her autograph book, as also did Ambassador Morgan. Accompanying Little Esther is Gordon Stretton, who is the Prince of Wales favorite jazz entertainer. In the course of the evening the president of Brazil expressed to Sydner Garner, the manager of Little Esther, his great pleasure at seeing such capable colored American artists in Brazil. When Little Esther arrived off Rio de Janeiro a detachment of the Brazilian naval band was at the pier to recieve her and escort her with music to her hotel, followed by a great crowd. Little Esther is due to return to Europe in November to fill her contract with the Scala Theatre in Berlin. This little entertainer, who is only twelve and was a few years ago dancing the Charleston on the streets of Chicago is said to be the highest paid child artist in the world. (Afro-American, Paris Bureau of the Afro-American, Aug 22, 1931)

Scores Hit (1931)

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Accomplished juvenile entertainer, shown as she sailed abroad the SS. Leviathan for Paris, where she has scored signal successes in entertaining Parisians and tourists alike.

Esther Jones Masters Many Languages (1931)

Eleven-year-old child singer scoring in appearances abroad at royal palace sang for Denmark's King and Queen. (Afro-American, Paris Bureau of the Afro-American, Jan 24, 1931)

And Others (1932)

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Baby Esther is listed in a 1932 newspaper article among several African-American performers who had toured the world from Honolulu, Rome, Africa France, Germany, Sweden, Russia, and back home to the United States. Miss Josephine Hall played in Roth's "Revue," an all-star galaxy of international artists, and along with Baby Esther represented the American Negro at the Chiena Theater in Stockholm, Sweden, the land of the midnight sun. Roland Hayes, renowned soloist spends the greater part of each year appearing in recitals all over Europe where he is heralded elaborately. The late Florence Mills was the idol of London when Lew Leslie's "Blackbirds" played a most successful season there in 1927. Hattie King-Reavis who remained abroad for three years found that the foreign people, and especially the Russian, are very fond of the Negro and pay homage to his artistic ability. Johnny Hudgins, the pantomine comedian, is loud in praise of the wonderful reception accorded him while touring the continent.

The Indianapolis Star (1933)

As a special extra attraction, "Little Esther," diminutive dancing star, who recently returned from Europe. (The Indianapolis Star)

Nightclub Performer

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Baby Esther used to perform at a number of nightclubs in Harlem. She is also cited as "having performed" at one of Cab Calloway's nightclubs, which is presumed to be the Cotton Club, however it could have been another. The only person who would have been able to confirm this today had he not been deceased would have to have been Cab Calloway the Hi-De-Ho Man, as he used to headline at the Cotton Club in 1925 and was strongly associated with the club for years. A 1934 article states that Baby Esther dubbed "Little Esther the Sepia Dancing Doll" was a former singer and dancer for Cab Calloway and his Orchestra. According to Marion Luber who was a nightclub dancer she heard Baby Esther perform at an Atlantic City, New Jersey nightclub in 1928.

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When Kane first made her debut in 1928 she used to dress up like a little girl, in which she dubbed her "baby" style. Around that time Kane was a grown woman in her late 20's. Her idea to dress up like a little girl may have also originated from Baby Esther, a real child performer who Kane had seen perform in 1928. From 1928-1929 Kane was most notable for wearing frilly dresses, Mary Janes and gigantic bows in her hair. This style was also present in the 1930 film Dangerous Nan McGrew. By the end of 1930, Kane's fashion sense changed and she wanted to be more sophisticated. She dubbed her new style cute yet sophisticated. In 1934 after losing the suit against the Fleischer Studios, Kane decided that she wanted to be a miniature Mae West and refused to utter anymore baby talk.

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Dan Healy who had starred with Helen Kane in the 1928 musical Good Boy had worked in the Cotton Club since 1925 and would often produce and appear in the stage shows as he himself was a singer and dancer. The stage show was often advertised as Dan Healy's Cotton Club on Parade. The link between Dan Healy, the Cotton Club and Helen Kane is quite the coincidence. At the Cotton Club a lot of African-American performers would often scat sing in their acts. It is known that Danny Healy was still working at the Cotton Club between 1927-1928, around that time period (1928) Daniel was also working with Helen Kane in the musical Good Boyand they were paired together because the Broadway characters they played, "Pansy McManus" and "Bobby D'Arnell" appeared in a small scene incorporating the song "I Wanna Be Loved By You" a song in which would become a hit overnight. Dan would continue to produce shows for the Cotton Club in 1934 & again in 1936. Three years later in 1939 Dan Healy married Helen Kane and they stayed married until Helen died in 1966. According to information given there were a lot of African-American performers who used to perform at the club. Duke Ellington, Baby Cox, The Cotton Club Boys who were a chorus of male African-American dancers who appeared exclusively in Cotton Club performances who made their debut in the Spring of 1934 Edition of the Cotton Club Parade. The Cotton Club Girls in the early years included Mae Robinson and Isabel Washington, as well as sisters Hilda and Vivian Brown, Margaret Cheraux, Millicent Cook, Mildred Dixon, Peggy Griffiths, Carolyn Rich Henderson, Ethel, Lucia and Julia Moses, Julia Noisette, Evelyn Shepard, and Tondelayo. The Cotton Club Girls had already become an institution in their own right and the Club's management, feeling they needed a new gimmick, decided to use a line of young male dancers. Dozens were auditioned, and ten were finally chosen: Maxie Armstrong, Louis Brown, Charles "Chink" Collins, Howard "Stretch" Johnson, Thomas "'Chink" Lee, Eddie Morton, Tommy Porter, Walter Shepherd, William Smith, and Jimmy Wright. They were made a feature act of the show and their new style of group dancing, in which all moved together in rhythmic unison, was immediately popular. At the end of an eight-month run they became an established feature at the Club. The Boys later performed in specialty acts at the Apollo Theater and also toured with Cab Calloway and his band. Subsequent members of the Cotton Club Boys include Julius Adger, Al Alstock, Roy Carter, Sherman Coates, Warren Coleman, Ernest Frazier, Freddie Heron, and Roy Porter. Author Jacque Malone notes that in 1940, the Cotton Club Boys’ performance in Chicago included Jules Adjers, Louie Brown, Freddy Heron, Chink Lee, Eddie Morton, Charles “Cholly” Atkins.


I Wanna Be Loved By You – Three Little Words (1950)

There is no existing footage of Baby Esther scat singing and the footage is lost to time. There is also no live-action footage of Helen Kane and Dan Healy performing the 1928 hit song "I Wanna Be Loved By You" from the musical Good Boy. The show in which Kane first started to "Boop" was referenced in the 1950 film Three Little Words where Helen is played by Debbie Reynolds and Dan Healy is played by Carleton Carpenter. The sequence shows that the production of Good Boy featuring Kane was a hit. It also went down to her adding the scat sounds, in which made her a star practically overnight.

Boop-a-Doop Mystery (1932)

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The great Boop-a-Doop mystery now joins those other famous cases. Watson! There's the unsolved matter of whence came "Hi-De-Hi" and "Ho-De-Ho." And the hot-cha-cha affair still baffles the po-police. It's not elementary this time my dear fellow! Helen Kane, who once cashed in on "Booping" and cashed out on court litigation, believes there's still gold in them boops. In fact she asks $250,000 of that animated cutie Betty Boop. It all depends upon where Boop-a-Doop came from. Was or was not Miss Kane the first of the Boopers? The answer is believed to lie in Harlem. Scouts now search the Negro cabarets for data. They find themselves getting a bit tangled in the ramifications of the scat song. And one of the amusing issues will be whether or not anyone can "Boop" or whether boop-ing is Miss Kane's own and particular property. 

Negro Girl Of Nightclub Is A Real Dooper (1934)


Helen Kane's Boop-Boop-a-Doop trial today went Booping back to the night clubs of 1928 and a little Negro girl, proclaimed as the original Dooper. It was Summer of 1928, Helen already has told Justice McGoldrick, that she pursed her lips first and "laid 'em in the aisles" with her initial Boop-Boop-a-Doop. That date is important in her $250,000 suit against Paramount Publix Corporation and the Fleischer Studios for imitating her in the Betty Boop animated cartoons. For Baby Esther, 8 year old girl, delivering many a Boop-Boop-a-Doop in New York months before according to the testimony of Lou Bolton, the child's manager. Bolton claimed that Helen had a ringside seat at the Everglades Club on Broadway one Winter's night when Baby Esther was Booping - that was before Helen's first Boop too. The defense, through Attorney Louis Phillips, also submitted testimony that Helen actually encouraged imitation.

Little Esther Formerly with Cab Calloway Orchestra (1934)

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Little Esther the fastest colored dancer you ever saw and how she can sing! Formerly with Cab Calloway Orchestra. (Muncie Evening Press)

The Star Press (1934)

Little Esther the peer of all colored singers and dancers formerly with Cab Calloway. (The Star Press)

The Courier-Journal from Louisville, Kentucky (1934)

Little Esther, a sepia dancing girl appears as an added attraction with the stage show, and is said to be one of the youngest vaudeville artists to have achieved success on three continents. She has appeared in practically every theater of consequence in the United States and Canada. Remained four months at the Empire Theater in Paris, then played lengthy engagements in Berlin. (The Courier-Journal)

Little Esther the Sepia Dancing Doll (1934)

As an added attraction of the stage show The National has booked Little Esther, billed as "The Sepia Dancing Doll." (The Courier-Journal)

Stage Attractions (1934)

Little Esther a red hot dancer. (Muncie Evening Press)

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (1934)

Lou Bolton is in New York to appear as the principal witness for Paramount-Publix and Max Fleischer in Helen Kane's $100,000 suit against them for using the "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" expression in the Betty Boop cartoons. It seems Bolton's colored prodigy, "Little Esther," was "Boop-Boop-a-Dooping" it long before Paul Ash discovered Miss Kane. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Do-Do-De-Do-Ho-De-Wa-Da Claimed Boop-a-Doop Parent (1934)

Court stenographers who struggled to record in shorthand the "Boop-Oop-Doops" of Helen Kane were on the verge of hysterics tonight. Supreme Court Judge Edward J. McGoldrick ordered them to set down "Do-Do-De-Do-Ho-De-Wa-Da-De-Da." The "Boop-Oop-a-Doop" trial, in which Helen Kane seeks $250,000 damages from the animated cartoon creators of "Betty Boop," became this complicated when Lou Bolton testified, for the defense, Bolton testified that nine years ago in Chicago he taught Baby Esther, a negro child to interpolate "Do-Do-De-Do-Ho-De-Wa-Da-De-Da" between the bars of music in popular songs. Bolton said Miss Kane heard Baby Esther's song treatment here in 1928 and shortly afterward began her famous "Booping." Testimony also was heard today from Bonnie Poe and Margie Hines, two petite piping-voiced misses who said they were hired by the Max Fleischer studios as voices for Betty Boop after winning Helen Kane contests. Miss Hines said she won a preliminary contest before she ever heard Miss Kane. (Democrat and Chronicle)

Evidence Against Kane

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Edith Griffith, and Felix Mayol and Clarence Williams were also used as evidence against Helen Kane

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Several other performers who sung in the baby style which went back to the early 1900s, were also used to prove that Kane's baby singing style was not unique. The other women referenced were Nan Halperin, Irene Franklin, Peggy Bernier, Duncan Sisters and Hannah Williams. Helen and Betty Boop both bore resemblance to Clara Bow and Helen's high-pitched singing style was quite common, so the look and singing style was ruled out and went down to the unique scat sounds that made Helen famous overnight. Old footage of Baby Esther performing the scat routine and all the other evidence used in the trial helped prove that Helen Kane was not the "first" Boop-Oop-a-Doop singer in the business.


A number of witnesses testified before Supreme Court Justice Edward J. McGoldrick today that they had heard Boop-Boop-a-Doop songs long before Helen Kane says she introduced them to the public. Miss Kane insists that she was the originator of the singing technic which she has claimed as hers since 1928, and that the technic was stolen by Max Fleischer, Fleischer Studios, Inc. and Paramount-Publix Corporation in the promotion of the Betty Boop animated screen cartoons. For this infringement on her alleged rights Miss Kane has appealed to the court for $250,000 damages.

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The first witness today was Alfred Evans, who said that he was in the employ of Rudy Vallée. He said that in 1927, a year before Helen Kane first offered a Boop to the American theater-going public, he heard a few Boops from Edith Griffith, who affected a baby voice in her stage performances. Another witness, who insisted that Helen Kane's Boops were not 100 per cent novelties, was Marion Luber, a dancer, who told the court that early in 1928 she heard Baby Esther, a Negro child performer employ the Boop style of singing which Miss Kane considers her own. Under cross-examination this witness said she did not recall the songs she heard Bay Esther sing but that she remembered the child's songs were replete with Boops and Doops.

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Alfred Evans, an employee of Rudy Vallée, said he heard Edith Griffith sing "baby" songs in an Omaha, Neb theatre in 1927, with the interpolations, "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" and "Poop-Poop-a-Doop." Mrs. Marion Luber, dancer testified that she had heard similar noises made by "Baby" Esther Jones at an Atlantic City night club in 1928. The chief defense witness was Little Ann Little, 24, whose voice is synchornized with the Betty Boop cartoons. Nine years ago, she testified she sang "baby" songs in the Greenwich Village Follies. "I sang cute baby songs and did breaks at the end of the bars of music, Miss Little said. These "breaks," she continued, included the sounds "Wha-Da-De-Dah," "Bo-Vo-Deo-Do" and even "Ba-Da-Daten-Doop," "Is that one a new one on you?" she ad libbed, directing the question at Louis Phillips, defense attorney who yesterday demonstrated a keen knowledge of spelling "baby" sounds by coming to the aid of a bewildered court stenographer. Justice McGoldrick reminded Miss Little that answering questions was all that the court expected of witnesses.

Helen Kane Is Not Original!

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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 dictionary. 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.

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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 defense 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."

The Last Time We Saw Paris... (1944)

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Baby Esther Jones was referenced in 1944 among several other African-American performers who visited Paris, France, including Cab Calloway.

Baby Esther Film Sync in Court? 

Lou Fleischer told a historian that the whole story of what went on at the trial. He told the historian that the film shown of Little Esther Jones did not break at the "Boop-Oop-a-Doop" part and they did not show this in court. What had happened was the print of Esther performing had been spliced into several places due to breakage and went out of sync at the crucial point due to 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 historian also stated remarks about Justice McGoldrick being "bribed" as stated by Zavier Leslie Cabarga is a conclusion not based on fact and that there was enough evidence remaning to prove Helen Kane's case. However since there is a Film Trade Ad that placed 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 background is an image on a easel that looks like the image of Helen Kane. The historian then pointed out as to 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. Meaning a scene where Helen asked Betty Boop to impersonate her in the debut 1932 cartoon was clearly 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 Bolton

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

Defense Attorney:

"What sounds did she (Baby Esther) interpolate?"

Lou Bolton:

"Boo-Boo-Boo!" (Recited Walton)

Defense Attorney:

"What other sounds?"

Lou Bolton:


Defense Attorney:

"Any others?"

Lou Bolton:

"Yes, Wha-Da-Da-Da." (Said Bolton 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". Bolton could not give him any aid, Philips did however. Other defense witnesses were Bonnie Poe and Margie Hines who's voices were used in the Betty Boop films.

Help! Stenographer Can't Take Wha-Da-Da's & Boops

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Recording of the Helen Kane "Boop-Oop-a-Doop" jargon in the singers $250,000 damage suit trial in Supreme Court, Manhattan has been driving the court stenographer to distraction. He threw his hands in dismay and yelled for help today when the testimony was offered as to the in-articulate jargon of Baby Esther. Negress night club singer from whom the defense was trying to establish, the Helen of the rolling eyes got the "Boop-Oop-a-Doop" idea.

The Afro-American Newspaper (1934)

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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 Questel, Bonnie Poe, Little Ann Little, Kate Wright, Margie Hines) of the Boop style. T'would be logical now for Baby Esther to sue Miss Kane to even things all around. However, Baby Esther Jones who was alive and well did not pursue Kane.

The Boop Song Is Traced

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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 interpolated 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 Модель Оля (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. 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 some people to believe that the animated cartoon character Betty Boop (a fictional character) was of mixed-race heritage/Mulatto. The real Baby Esther was a child, not a grown woman. Gertrude Saunders was the adult African-American "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" singer, who was succeeded by Florence Mills, who in turn was succeeded by Baby Esther.

Not Esther Jones! This Is Esther Bigeou!

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Several misleading sources claimed that Esther Jones was a woman, including an article from 1934 that stated that Esther was a Negro woman. Newspaper articles that referenced the 1934 lawsuit stated that Helen Kane launched against the Fleischer Studios stated that Esther was a child but there was no proof to back the claims that Esther was a child. Betty Boop Checks used an image of Esther Bigeou taken by James Van Der Zee as source, claiming it was Baby Esther which lead people to believe that the image in question was Esther Jones. James Van Der Zee was a famous African-American photographer who took photos of African-American celebrities including Florence Mills, Hazel Scott and Adam Powell Jr. - but most of James Van Der Zee's work was commercial (including pictures of the dead for grieving families), family groups, teams, lodges and people wanting to record themselves in fine clothes. James Van Der Zee supplied the props and costumes for most of his clients. According to a valid source, the image of Esther Bigeou was taken in 1923. Though the image of Esther Jones turned out to be fake, the story is pretty much the same, Helen Kane saw her perform and adapted Jones' "scat singing" style into her act. 

$250,000 Lawsuit

Betty Boop Era (1985)

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The black gal should have been suing Helen Kane! And, incidentally, where are Baby Esther's recordings? Well at least we have some of Helen's, and they're good fun. They date from 28, 29 and 30 and characteristically there are no personnel listings. A pity, as the pianist really could stride, and someone took a heck of a hot coronet solo at one point. We'll probably never know, and this is one of the frustrations of early 20th century recordings. No data, A studio orchestra.

Black History Month (2016)

Baby Esther Jones was put on the spotlight for Black History Month in 2016, in which she was praised. It was dubbed that she was the true inspiration behind the creation of "Boop-Boop-a-Doop". Most articles use misleading images, due to the fact that misinformation about Esther was spread and very little was known about who Esther Jones really was. PBS (The Public Broadcasting Service) were even conned into thinking that Esther Jones was a woman just like everyone else, due to lack of sources, which have only not long surfaced thanks to the Betty Boop Wiki. 

Baby Esther Merchandise

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A Baby Esther Jones Afrocentric T-shirt by MindHarvest sold over 400 prints which can be brought directly on Etsy.

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The same T-shirt by MindHarvest was later sold on Dizinga by R4k4167.

Kylie Dion: Baby Esther (2017)

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On the 4th of November a song titled "Baby Esther" was released by singer Kyle Dion. Child performer Baby Esther Lee Jones was played by Widny Bazile. Esther is depicted as an adult, as at that time most people thought that Esther was a woman who looked like Betty Boop.


Kyle Dion - Baby Esther (MV)

The song dubs Baby Esther a "Cabaret Queen" and references plagiarism. Esther was known to have performed at cabarets and night clubs, including the Moulin Rouge and all over the place most promptly Europe.

The song was produced by Joel Alexander Van & Mars Today with co-production by Nate Mercereau. The song was mixed by Erik Madrid and was mastered by Chris Gehringer.


  • False information was spread online that Lou Bolton (Baby's ex-manager) had stated that Baby Esther had died, when in fact in the actual lawsuit documents, he had stated that he didn't know where she was and that he had thought that she was still in Paris. It is noted that in 1929, that Bolton and Esther's mother parted on bad terms after a fight about Esther's contract which resulted in him returning to the United States and being replaced with a new manager. A 1934 article associates Baby Esther (Little Esther) with the Cab Calloway Orchestra, which proves that dancer Esther Jones was still alive and active in 1934. Esther was also still active in July and September of 1934, in which she performed at black benefits events as an acrobatic dancer. However a 1937 "Brazilian" newspaper article uncovered by a"Baby Esther Jones" research website linked directly to the BB Wikia, states that Esther Jones settled down, got married and was a member of a dance troupe in Harlem. Meaning Esther Jones would no longer be known by the second name "Jones" after marriage. Which is possibly why no more information can be found on her.



  • Her father William Jones was a photographer and decorator.
  • William Jones was 60-years-old in 1928, making her father quite old. Another article claims that he might have been Esther's stepfather. 
  • Esther lived at 44 West 98th street.
  • Black Parisian Sydney Garner became Esther's new manager after Louis Bolton was fired. While Esther toured South America, Garner became ill, resulting with Esther and the family returning to Europe, stating they felt feeling homesick. 
  • Jo Otten who was born Johannes Franciscus, named his daughter (Alja) Alexandra Esther after Esther Jones. Esther Jones is referenced on several pages in Bed and World.  
  • When Esther became a hit and toured, sometimes her mother (Mrs. Gertrude Jones) accompanied her. 
  • She also had a grandmother Mrs. Jones and a sister Miss Jones, who like her mother were rarely named.  
  • Most articles about Esther Jones got her age wrong. Sometimes they would state that she was one year younger, or a year older.
  • Esther's aunt Ruth Jones was her accompanist during her tour in South America. 
  • Esther met Josephine Baker in Paris.
  • Baby Esther had been scat singing since 1925, whereas Felix Mayol had booped in 1913. Gertrude Saunders claimed that she was the one true originator of "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" and had used it in 1921. 
  • Scholar Robert O' Meally said, Betty Boop was an "imitation of a imitation" and had, as it were, a black grandmother in her background.
  • Baby Esther Lee Jones is not to be confused with African-American "Double Crossing Blues" singer Little Esther Phillips (from the 1940s-1950s) who had also used the name "Little Esther" in her early career. Baby Esther Lee Jones was originally billed "Little Esther" in the 1920s-1930s. Which is why people mistake both entertainers for one another, as they had the same names and stage names. Esther Phillips was also known as Li'l Esther, just like Baby Esther was. Esther sharing a similar name with another artist can be compared to Little Ann Little and Ann Little who both also shared the same stage names.
  • Baby Esther was presumed deceased by people on the internet who decided to try and remove her from history by spreading false fabrications that she had passed away.
  • Lou Bolton a white Russian-American testified for the defense. Bolton testified that 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 means the scat lyrics used by the black performer were a variety.
  • Kane was said to have adapted the black performer's scat sounds to Poop, then later from Poop to Boop.
  • Baby Esther made funny expressions (funny faces) and interpolated meaningless sounds at the end of each bar of music in the songs that she performed to audiences in Harlem.
  • The image taken by James Van Der claimed to be Esther originated from a Betty Boop website. The image stated to be Esther in 1928 couldn't be Esther, because the woman featured in the image is too old, Esther was only 7-8 in 1928, which would have made her 14-15 years old in 1934. 
  • In a 1934 newspaper interview Little Ann Little one of the several voices of Betty Boop took credit for the African-American scat singers who'd claimed they'd Booped at the trial. Ann stated that she had Booped in 1925 and would often give a "Wha-Da-De-Da". Ann was dubbed the baby of the Greenwich Village Follies in the early 1920s and would sing cute baby songs.
  • Before Esther met Josephine Baker, she didn't know who Josephine Baker was. 
  • A few years after Jones, Bonnie Poe would go on to perform at the Everglades Club, in which she would sometimes in her act impersonate Helen Kane on stage. Not too long after, Bonnie Poe became the voice of Betty Boop.
  • Baby Esther's fake death was created as a hoax by a Helen Kane fan club. 


See Also

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