Jan 12, 2009

Dangerous Nan McGrew - Helen Kane

While working on some lecture prep for an upcoming class on the Bourbon Reforms, I turned to the Internet radio site Live365.com to find some conducive background music. I decided upon Absinthe Radio, a station that describes itself as "a celebration of the classic sounds of the 20s and 30s, and their peculiar partnership with another perfect pastime, Absinthe."

Anyways, while listening I became acquainted with a quirky old song performed by Helen Kane called "Dangerous Nan McGrew." Naturally, YouTube offered a clip from the 1930 Paramount Pictures film of the same name. Here it is:

The strangest part of Helen Kane's career is that she was the human inspiration behind the cartoon character Betty Boop. Kane filed suit against Paramount and Max Fleischer, but she eventually lost her case. Boop-boop-be-doop, Kane's lawsuit was tossed, and thus began her sad decline into obscurity.

Kane's last fling with stardom occurred in 1950, when she dubbed the singing in "I Wanna Be Loved by You" for Debbie Reynolds, but as fate would demand, Kane's singing was uncredited. She died from breast cancer in 1966 at the age of 62, a hard-luck flapper girl whose life is a microcosm of the chew-'em-up-and-spit-'em-out world of Hollywood, where the best diet pills are a more valuable commodity than human beings.


microdot said...

Wow, my father knew Helen Kane in New York in the 40's and always bragged to us when we were young thaat he knew Betty Boop!

Anonymous said...

My grandfather once told me about knowing Helen Kane (she was Schroeder than) when he was growing up in the Bronx and how funny she was. He even got to see her once when she was working with the Marx Brothers. Thanks for sharing!

microdot said...

So your grandfather knew her and my father knew her...this girl got around!

Rich said...

The Bourbon Reforms sound like the most delicious reforms ever.