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While being interviewed on the radio by announcer Deems Taylor about the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Michigan, which provides a summer music training camp for talented children. Michael Maddy, loafer son of the camp's director, university professor Dr. Joseph E. Maddy, digresses and starts talking about Toodles LaVerne, a burlesque entertainer whom he claims is a legitimate opera singer. After the producers pull him off the broadcast, Michael makes a wager with his friend, George Thomas, the publicity agent for the Manhattan Opera Company, that Toodles is an opera singer. Michael wins the bet when George attends the burlesque show and Toodles sings a variation on an Italian opera. When the theater is raided by police, Toodles' dance partner, Maidie Duvalle, is caught, but Toodles escapes into Michael and George's limousine. Michael takes pity on the teenager and brings her to his apartment, where she changes from her risqué costume into regular clothes. Michael and George discover that the orphan Toodles taught herself to sing by listening to records. Duly impressed by her voice and her fear of being remanded to a reform school, Michael gets himself appointed as Toodles' guardian and takes her to Interlochen. Upon arriving there, Michael, who has taken over the camp because of his father's illness, asks Sylvia Worth, the camp's new efficiency expert, to give Toodles a scholarship. Sylvia is initially resistant because the school is in financial difficulty and the Board of Directors has threatened to withdraw its funding at even the hint of a problem. Toodles, meanwhile, befriends fourteen-year-old Heimo Haitto, a war refugee from Finland who is a talented violinist. When bully William Chapman picks on Heimo, Toodles sticks up for him and knocks Bill out. Heimo then accompanies Toodles to her cabin, where she meets her roommates: singing pianist Dolly Loehr, singing violinist Kaye Connor, and violinist Patricia Travers, who would rather spend the summer at the beach. Toodles is awestruck by her talented bunkmates, but shows no interest in learning to read music or participating in camp activities. Later Sylvia is surprised when Michael and George admit that they "recruited" Toodles from a burlesque show and that she is on parole from a reform school. Although Sylvia worries that Toodles' inferior background could sully the reputation of the camp, she lets her stay. Despite Toodles' screams and cries, Michael and George forcibly wash the make-up off her face and insist that she wear a uniform. Later that night, Michael urges her to perform for the rest of the students, who happily accept the new recruit when she proves her singing ability. Michael then insists that Toodles learn to read music so she can audition with the rest of the school for a benefit with the Manhattan Opera Company. When Bill finds out that Toodles is on parole from reform school, he spreads the news to the rest of the students. Toodles finds she has loyal friends in Heimo, Dolly, Pat and Kaye, who offer to teach her how to read and interpret music. When Manhattan Opera representatives arrive early for the audition, Kaye pretends to have laryngitis so that Toodles will be compelled to perform, even though she is not familiar with the music. Toodles delights everyone when she proves her sight reading skills, and the Manhattan Opera representatives are greatly impressed. Later, however, Toodles decides to leave the camp after Maidie publishes an article about Toodles, which creates bad publicity for the school. As a result, many parents withdraw their children, and the financial backers threaten to withdraw their support. Presuming that Toodles had the article printed out of malice, Sylvia confronts the teenager before she leaves, but realizes she is wrong when she overhears Maidie apologizing for causing so much grief. Toodles then returns to New York with Maidie, and Sylvia follows her, intending to lure the financiers back. When Michael learns of the chain of events, he and a group of Toodles' closest friends from the camp go to New York and insist that she sing with them at the Manhattan Opera show. Toodles agrees, and Bill apologizes for misjudging her. That night, Toodles' soaring voice and the talent of Michael and the students shine through, and the financial backers renew their promise to support the camp.