Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Helen Kane

Helen Kane was an American popular singer; her signature song was "I Wanna Be Loved By You". Fleischer Studios animator Grim Natwick used Kane as the model for his studio's most famous creation, Betty Boop.

Born as Helen Clare Schroeder, Kane attended St. Anselm’s Parochial School in the Bronx. She was the youngest of three children. Her father, Louis Schroeder, the son of a German immigrant, was employed intermittently; her Irish immigrant mother, Ellen (Dixon) Schroeder, worked in a laundry. Kane's mother reluctantly paid $3 for her daughter's costume as a queen in Kane's first theatrical role at school. By the time she was 15 years, Kane was onstage professionally, touring the Orpheum Circuit with the Marx Brothers in On the Balcony.

She spent the early 1920s trouping in vaudeville as a singer and kickline dancer with a theater engagement called the 'All Jazz Revue', and played the New York Palace for the first time in 1921.

Kane's first performance at the Paramount Theater in Times Square proved to be her career's launching point. She was singing "That's My Weakness Now", when she interpolated the scat lyrics “boop-boop-a-doop.” This resonated with the flapper culture, and four days later, Helen Kane’s name went up in lights.

Oscar Hammerstein’s 1928 show Good Boy, was where she first introduced the hit "I Wanna Be Loved by You" . Then it was back to the Palace, as a headliner for $5,000 a week.

As she took on the status of a singing sensation, there were Helen Kane dolls and Helen Kane look-alike contests, appearances on radio and in nightclubs. This cult following reached its peak in late 1928 and stayed there until early 1929. With the hardships of the Great Depression biting, the flamboyant world of the flapper was over, and Kane's style began to date rapidly.

She died on September 26, 1966 at age 62, in her apartment in Jackson Heights, Queens (New York City). Her husband of 27 years was at her bedside. Her remains were buried in the Long Island National Cemetery.

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