Court Studies Cartoon Character Betty Boop's Face[1]

Court Studies B

Decision was reserved by Supreme Court Justice Edward J. McGoldrick today on the question of whether the private rights of Helen Kane, the Boop-a-Doop singer, have been invaded by those responsible for the creation and exploitation of the Betty Boop animated cartoons.

The completion of the "private rights" phase of the action does not, however conclude the Boop-a-Doop entanglement out of which Miss Kane hopes eventually to collect $250,000 for alleged damages to her income possibilities as a result of the existence of Betty Boop.

Tomorrow the court will take up the question of whether Miss Kane has been a victim of unfair competition and eventually Justice McGoldrick or a jury - depending on certain legal technicalities that may come into force will determine to what, if any, monetary reward the plaintiff is entitled.

The private rights issue concerned only the dispute as to whether the animated pen and ink character, Betty Boop resembles in physical appearance the plaintiff, Helen Kane. The Boops which are associated in the public mind with each individuality are not as yet being considered by the court. Booping is expected to play a bigger part in the next phase of the case.

Max Fleischer on Stand. The defendants in these issues are Max Fleischer, the cartoonist who created Betty; Fleischer Studios, Inc., and the Paramount Publix Corporation.

Miss Kane insists that Betty Boop is nothing more or less than a caricature of herself and not so much of a caricature at that. Later she expects to show that Betty's Boop-a-Doops are exact simulations of the baby voiced style of song which she claims to have originated years before Betty Boop made her debut before the movie going public.

All that Justice McGoldrick has to consider at the moment is whether Betty and Helen look alike and whether the simularity if any would cause the public to think of one while seeing the other.

Max Fleischer was the only witness to tesify today and underdirect examination he said that Betty Boop was merely a character which grew out of his imagination. He said he had no individual in mind in 1930 when he decided to launch Betty on the screen.

Met Miss Kane at Luncheon. Under cross-examination, the cartoonist admitted that Betty might have been the result of his "aggregate observation" of human beings.

"Were you not influenced by any person or persons you had met in everyday life," the plaintiff's counsel asked.

"Not exactly," the witness said. He said that he had heard quite a little about Helen Kane, but that he never met her until he attended a luncheon at the Paramount organization a year or so before he produced Betty Boop for the first time.

Miss Kane had been an entertainer at theluncheon, and he admitted that of all the entertainers at the luncheon he had been able to recall none expect Miss Kane.

Counsel for the plaintiff made quite a bit of this point, and then obtained the admission that the cartoonist had, had the advice and assistance of others in his organization in perfecting Betty for public appearances.

The attorney went over Betty's strange physiognomy with great care and made the cartoonist explain each curl on Betty's head and each eyelash around her roving eyes. Then the case ended so far as "private rights" were concerned.