This article is about the catchphrase and scat style. For the animated short, see Boop-Oop-a-Doop.
"Boop-Oop-a-Doop" is Betty Boop's trademark catchphrase and scat sound, which was originally made popular by Helen Kane in 1928. Kane claimed to be the originator of the unique ad-libs, and attempted to sue Fleischer Studios and Paramount, who she had previously worked for, but she actually took her style from another, meaning she was not the first person to "Boop" in show business. According to a 1932 newspaper article the secret to the origin of scat singing lied in Harlem, and scouts were sent to African-American cabarets for data. The testimony given during the trial was, for the most part in two-fourths time and very syncopated. The defense presented a galaxy of talented performers to show that long before Miss Kane made her debut as a singer of "baby" songs the practice of singing in the baby singing style and interpolating songs with meaningless sounds was quite common, making Kane's "baby-talk" singing style and "scat singing" both unoriginal and not unique. As in the court documents it is also stated that Kane tried to lay claim to the origination of the interjection of scat sounds into songs. Kane tried to take credit for inventing the scat genre but it came out in court that she was not the original. Had Helen Kane not had sued the Fleischer Studios and Paramount Pictures a company she used to work for, her secret appropriation would have stayed a secret and she never would have been outed as unoriginal. Today in history it is a known fact that Helen Kane took inspiration from various African-American performers (the main being Baby Esther Jones), making the origin of the "Boop-Oop-a-Doop" scat sound have somewhat African-American roots. When African-American scat singer Cab Calloway was alive, he agreed that animated Fleischer Studios character Betty Boop was his female counterpart. When "Boop-Oop-a-Doop" is expanded into scatting, it's usually "Boopy-Doopy-Doopy-Doop-Boop-Oopy-Doo" (sometimes the "p" is silent), with a "Bop" to finish it up.
There are various cartoons in which Betty has also used alternative scat interpolations rather than her usual "Boop-Oop-a-Doop" routine. In several cartoons Betty Boop uses Cab Calloway's "Hi-De-Hi," "Hi-De-Ho," "Zah-Zuh-Zaz," and ""Skeetle-At-De-Op-De-Day." Betty also uses Gertrude Saunders' "Tweet-Tweet-Tweet," "Twat-Twat-Twat," and "Twa-Twa-Twa" (also used by Esther Bigeou) in two cartoons.
Betty Boop uses a "Wa-Da-Da" / "Wha-Da-Da" technique in A Language All My Own, New Deal for Pets, and Betty Boop's Trial. This technique was previously used by African-American child performer Baby Esther Jones.
Other scat sounds Betty has made in her original cartoon series include "Skeet," "Scat," "Ri-Ri-Da-Da-Da," "Da-Da-Da," "Skiddle-a-Rootin'-Hootin'-Tootin'," "Skiddle-a-Doo-Doo-a-Doo-Doo-Doo," "Wha-Da-De-Do," "Wha-Da-De-De-Do-Do-Do," "Diddle-Iddle-Iddle-Iddle-Iddle-e," and "Widdle-Iddle-Loodle-o-Bop."
- 1 Also Known As
- 2 Differences Between Boops
- 3 Betty Boop's "Boop-Oop-a-Doop" Routine
- 4 Other Scat Sounds:
- 5 Betty Boop Using Alternative Scat Rhythm:
- 6 Helen Kane's Scat Interpolations:
- 7 Early 1928:
- 8 "Poop," "Poo," "Pe," "Pa," "Doo," "Dop" and "Doop" (1928):
- 9 "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" (1928):
- 10 Other Boop-Oop-a-Doopers
- 11 Gertrude Saunders:
- 12 Florence Mills:
- 13 Mae Barnes:
- 14 Chic Kennedy:
- 15 Duncan Sisters:
- 16 Lil' Esther:
- 17 Esther Bigeou:
- 18 Edith Griffith:
- 19 Helen Kane:
- 20 Clarence Williams:
- 21 Felix Mayol:
- 22 Little Ann Little:
- 23 Other Artists:
- 24 Trivia
- 25 See Also
Also Known As
- Poo Poo Padoo
- Boo Boo Badoo
- Poop Poop Padoop
Differences Between Boops
Betty's "Boops" would differ depending on the actress portraying her. Marjorie Hines the original voice of Betty Boop would often "Boop-Oop-a-Doop". Mae Questel would "Boop-Boop-Be-Doop" and Bonnie Poe would sometimes "Poop-Poop-Pe-Doop". Most of the time the other voices of Betty Boop would use "Boop-Oop-a-Doop" but Questel wanted her Boops differ to the other actresses and would often incorporate her own style, mainly to differ to Helen Kane (as Questel originally started out as a Helen Kane impersonator and Kane gave Questel her start in show business). Kane originally would "Poop-Poop-Padoop" which she later changed to "Boop-Boop-a-Doop". "Boop-Oop-a-Doop" is based on Kane's version of "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" removing the "B" from the second verse. During the 50s Kane made a comeback and started recording new music, but in her new recordings she started to sound more like Betty Boop, the animated character who she once found to be most repugnant.
Betty Boop's "Boop-Oop-a-Doop" Routine
Other Scat Sounds:
Betty Boop Using Alternative Scat Rhythm:
Helen Kane's Scat Interpolations:
Helen Kane's original scat techniques were neither "Boop" or "Poop," her original interpolations seem to be a variety of scat sounds. The original scat singing techniques that Kane used in early 1928 are said to have been inspired by interpolations that Florence Mills impersonator Baby Esther Jones used to use at the Everglades. Kane's original interpolations are very similar to sounds used in the all-black Broadway musical Shuffle Along. Similar sounds that Gertrude Saunders, Florence Mills and Josephine Baker would frequently use in their musical performances.
By mid-1928 Kane adapted her scat technique to "Poop" and was then known as the "Poop" girl.
"Poop," "Poo," "Pe," "Pa," "Doo," "Dop" and "Doop" (1928):
Helen later decided to change her "Poop" routine to "Boop," and then change her title from the "Poop" and "Poo" girl to the "Boop" and "Boo" girl. Revealing that Helen Kane was never the "Boop" girl to begin with, she was originally the "Poop" girl. In most of her early performances, she is saying "Poop" not "Boop," which is why she held "Poo-Poo-Pa-Doo" contests.
The unique scat lyrics have a long controversy behind them. Many people have used similar or claim to be the originator of the phrase Boop-Oop-a-Doop. Today, "Boop-Oop-a-Doop" and the word "Boop" are official Betty Boop trademarks and cannot be used by others, even though the Boop from Betty's name was originally created and made popular by others as it was the exclamation point of the roaring twenties. People can use Boop to scat sing only they cannot use the name "Betty Boop" on merchandise as it is copyrighted, something singer Betty Boo learned the hard way when she attempted to use the name "Betty Boop" in her act in the 1980s. According to vast research, African-Americans originated the scat singing style and it was adapted by others. Scat singing in general is most associated with jazz, a genre of music that also originated in African-American communities in the United States, which also like scat singing was appropriated and became very popular among pretty much everyone who lived in that decade.
According to a 1852 article on African-Americans, it was quoted that it was often for them to sing old-time hymns and tunes with unction and that "Boop-De-Dooden-Do" was often in the chorus. According to white Americans of the 1850s, their singing had no counterpart or competition in the white race and that it wouldn't be the music of the future. Although, several decades later, things of course changed and then everybody wanted to emulate African-Americans' singing style.
Scat singing is said to have originated from West Africa, but emerged when singers in the early 1900s began to imitate the first jazz instrumentalists.
Gertrude Saunders stated that she had first used the scat singing style in 1921 in the musical Shuffle Along, Saunders was given tribute in 1938-1939 as originator of "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" and was celebrated as the originator in African-American newspapers up until 1950. In the musical Shuffle Along, Saunders' successor was Florence Mills.
However when Saunders indicated that she was the original "Boop" singer of songs, she actually meant that she was the first to interpolate "scat" into songs. She was more the "Tweet-Tweet-Tweet," "Twa-Twa-Twa," "Twat-Twat-Twat," girl, but also used a variety of scat into her songs.
Florence Mills who replaced Gertrude Saunders in the musical Shuffle Along would often use a "Tooty-Tooty-Too" in her song "Baby and Me," in a higher pitch obbligato, kind of like a flute.
Chic Kennedy a Broadway performer claimed in 1931, that she was the one true originator of "Poop-Poop-a-Doop." She claimed that Helen Sugar Kane, who had shared the same bill with her in 1928, had taken credit for her idea when she was taken ill.
The Duncan Sisters were prominent singers during the early 1920s, they used a "baby-talk" persona in their act long before "Helen Kane the Boop-Boop-a-Doop" girl was known. The sisters' 1923 song "Baby Sister Blues" is an early baby-talk song that features baby-talk and scat singing, which they would often use in their act. The Duncan Sisters release of "Um-Um-Da-Da" was brought up in court when Helen Kane claimed that her singing style, look and mannerisms were original. Kane later lost her suit when it was proven that her act was not original and had been performed not just by the "Duncan Sisters" but by a galaxy of performers.
Florence Mills impersonator Baby Esther Lee Jones, daughter of William Jones and Gertrude Jones, was an African-American child performer from Chicago who used to sing and dance in her act. Her ex-manager Lou Bolton taught her to scat sing starting from 1925. When she scat sung at cabarets during the 1920s she would interpolate "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."
She would also later go on to use the popular phrase "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" in her act. The actual "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" phrase is said to have been adapted from Esther Jones' original interpolations.
During the suit against Kane, an employee of Rudy Vallée claimed that a singer by the name of Edith Griffith had "Booped" in 1927. Edith was said to have affected a baby-talk voice in her stage performances. Alternative scat sounds that Griffith is said to have interpolated into her songs were "Do-Do-Da-Da," "Da-Da-Do-Do." "Da-Da-Da-Da," "Roo-Too-Too-Too," and "Da-Da-Da-Ba-Ba-Ba."
She was best known for her unique "Boop" scat singing style and her "baby-talk" style of singing and her ditzy baby-doll persona.
However it later came out that she had saw Florence Mills impersonator Esther Lee Jones do similar scat routines in 1928, and that Kane had adapted the sounds she had heard at the Everglades with her then manager Tony Shayne, who was also booking agent for Esther around that time.
Kane's original scat lyrics were "Da-Da-Da" and "Bu-Du-Da-Do," which sound somewhat similar to Esther Jones and Clarence Williams scat interpolations. Listen to Kane's first two 1928 recording "That's My Weakness Now" and "Get Out and Get Under the Moon" for comparison.
The "Boop" routine in Kane's first two songs that she released in 1928 both have a kind of prototype version of "Boop," indicating plagiarism.
Helen Kane is said to have adapted the sounds more than once, eventually leading her to create "Poop Poop Padoop." The media misunderstood and thought she was saying "Boop-Boop-a-Doop." Instead of being the "Poop-Poop-a-Doop Girl," Kane became the "Boop-Boop-a-Doop Girl."
She would later sue the creators Betty Boop for stealing her style. However in court it came out that Kane herself was not original, and that her singing style and scat singing was quite common among a number of singers, and that she had also taken direct inspiration from other performers. In court Helen Kane admitted that other "baby-talk" singers had preceded her on the stage. She lost in court for being unoriginal and not having enough evidence to back up her claims of being sole innoventor of the "Boop-Boop-a-Doop."
Clarence Williams was an African-American composer and songwriter. During the Helen Kane suit, he claimed he had invented the word Boop in 1915, claiming they were 'Hot Licks' with scat lyrics such as "What-Da-De-Da" with an occasional Boop thrown in. Margie Hines the voice of Betty Boop also called her "Boops"- 'licks'. Williams' wife Eva Taylor, was also featured in the musical Shuffle Along. "Sha-Da-Deda-Boo-Boo-Pa-Doo," "Wha-Da-Da-De," and "What-Da-De-Da" were three other scat sounds he used to interpolate into songs.
The first person to utter similar syllables was Felix Mayol, who had used the scat lyrics "Bou-Doo-Da-Ba-Boo" in his 1913 recording "Bou-Dou-Ba-Boum." This was brought up in Helen Kane's $250,000 suit, where the latter was asked if she had heard the song. Kane denied that she had.
Little Ann Little:
Ann Little Rothschild one of the several original voices of Betty Boop claimed that Betty Boop's, "Boop" technique was originally "Ba-Da-Inde-Do," which later developed into "Bo-Do-De-O-Do" and finally to "Boop-Oop-a-Doop." She stated that in 1925 she was the baby of the Greenwich Village Follies and sang cute baby songs and did breaks at the end of the bars of music. These "breaks," included the sounds "Wha-Da-De-Dah," (similar to Clarence Williams claim and Baby Esther's scat sounds), "Bo-Vo-Deo-Do" and even "Ba-Da-Daten-Doop."
After winning the lawsuit against Helen Kane, Ann would state that she sang "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" before Helen Kane was known. Ann also considered herself the "original" Betty Boop and later lashed out at Mae Questel the most famous voice of Betty Boop.
It turns out that Little Ann Little was not the original Betty Boop and her first role as Betty Boop was in 1933. The original voice of Betty Boop in the original cartoons from 1930-1932 was actually Margie Hines. Questel was the second voice of Betty Boop, and she started voicing Betty in 1931, and Questel shared the role with Hines up until Hines' contract to voice Betty Boop ended.
Other artists who used similar methods of adding scat singing in songs were: Cab Calloway who is considered to be Betty Boop's male counterpart with "Hi-De-Ho" and "Hi-De-Hi," "Zah-Zuh-Zaz," "He-De-He," "Ree-Bop," "Skeep-Beep-De-Bop-Bop-Beep-Bop-Bo-Dope," and "Skeetle-At-De-Op-De-Day."
Bing Crosby with "Boo-Boo-Boo" and Jimmy Durante with "Ha-Cha-Cha." Another would be "Vo-Do-Do-De-O," a scat lyric which was first used in 1926 by Irving Aaronson and the Victor Commanders.
Louis Armstrong who taught Cab Calloway how to scat sing was as innovative with scatting, however scat singing was already a well known manner of singing by African-Americans. Armstrong scat sang in 1924 on "Everybody Loves My Baby." It has been observed that early scat singing was often performed by African-American women.
Some examples would be Ethel Ridley, Ora Alexander, Nina Mae McKinney the black Clara Bow / Greta Garbo, Sally Gooding, Edith Wilson, Adelaide Hall, Mae Barnes and Florence Mills impersonator Baby Cox.
- The Boop style was en vogue in the 1920s, but by the late 1930s it was classed as silly. One article claimed that there were too many Boop-Boop-a-Doop Singers, and women should use their natural voices.
- Mae Questel created the "Bop" to finish up Betty Boop's scat routine.
- The Boop style went well with Betty Boop, as she was an animated cartoon character. And her name Betty together with Boop made her iconic, as it rhymed. When asked what she does, she explains that "she Boop-Boop-a-Doops."
- The Boop style was paid tribute to in the 1950s and is referenced many media from 1929 to the present day.
- Today, the scat lyric is most associated with Betty Boop, who is dubbed the Queen of Cartoons.
- "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" is also a fixture of flapper culture and the roaring 20s.
- Boop Oop a Doop can also mean I love you, with the hidden context of being more risqué.
- According to a 1931 article, before "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" the most popular sound was "Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay." Just like the "Boop" the origin of the meaningless sound "Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay" was also originally originated by a "black" performer by the name of Mama Lou during the 1890s initially as "Tha-Ma-Boum-Di-He." Lou first performed the song in a well-known St. Louis brothel run by "Babe" Connors. The song was later adapted and made famous by others, such as Lottie Collins who later performed the song in London in 1892.
- "Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay" / "Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Aye" is actually considered to be the predecessor of "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" and has been since the late 1920s to early 1930s. A 1933 film which features the "Tarara" musical number, promoted it by saying that it was the original "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" of the 1800s. It is cited in many old news articles, as the original "Boop." Instead of "Boop" or "Booping" in the songs, the people of that era would "Boom-De-Ay" and be "Boom-De-Aying" in their songs.