Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b 1904; d September 1966) Baby-doll singer, famous as the ‘boop-boop-a-doop' girl. Her little-girlish voice with its Bronx accent was stolen by the creators of cartoon character Betty Boop. She appeared in a Marx Brothers revue; put forward by conductor Paul Ash, she sang ‘That's My Weakness Now' (by Bud Green and Sam H. Stept) in show A Night In Spain '27; the show flopped after 22 performances but Kane was a hit, signed for a week at the Paramount that stretched to six weeks, then to a recording contract with Victor.
In the musical show Good Boy '28 she sang ‘I Wanna Be Loved By You' (by Harry Ruby and Bert Kalmar); she allegedly disliked the song and had to be talked into it by impresario Oscar Hammerstein, then threw in the phrase ‘boop-boop-a-doop' which made her famous. On her first two recordings the music director was Nat Shilkret, on the rest Leonard Joy. Her technical skills, timing, enunciation and intonation, were very good, but nearly all the 22 songs she recorded 1928-30 were meant to sound like flapper novelties (‘Is There Anything Wrong In That?' was meant to be suggestive). An exception was Rodgers & Hart's ‘If I Knew You Better'. It was a good attempt at a ballad, and one of the last records she made; maybe she was tired of being typed as a ninny.
Inevitable she went to Hollywood, and appeared in Paramount pictures Nothing But The Truth, Sweetie, Pointed Heels, Dangerous Nan McGrew (played the lead and recorded the title song), Heads Up, Flying High, Young Men Of Manhattan and Paramount On Parade, all 1929-30.
Max and Dave Fleischer's Talkatoon series in 1930 featured Betty Boop, who had big eyes, a very short skirt and was considered salacious for the time; the voiceover was done by Ann Rothschild or Mae Questal (experts disagree). Kane sued the Fleischers for stealing her stuff, but the lawyers won, convincing the court that Kane has stolen her ‘boop-boop-a-doop' from a black singer, Baby Esther. Her career faded with the Great Depression; she appeared in flop show Shady Lady '33 but made no more films. In 1950 she recorded a track for the 18-year-old Debbie Reynolds to mime in film Three Little Words, a film biopic of Kalmar and Ruby. She died of cancer a few hours after seeing the film on TV.