She has the biggest eyes and won a contest to get her stage start - other current notes. Betty Boop herself has dressing room No. 1 backstage at the Buffalo this week. And she's got the biggest eyes you've ever seen.
Her real name is Mae Questel and she's one of these child prodigies grown up. As a tot down New York way she got a lot of medals for histrionic talent and even the white-haired dean of producers, the late David Belasco, offered her a stage career at 9.
She made a hit at charity bazars, box socials and all sorts of miscellaneous small entertainments and eventually attended the Theater Guild school with an eye on an acting career.
But mother said, "No!" No child of hers would ever go on stage! But matters have changed a bit since then and mother hops around the country with daughter these days - and rather likes it too.
The high pitch and peculiar inflection Mae can get in her voice won her a contract with Max Fleischer, the cartoon man to speak Betty Boop's lines and sing her songs. She also impersonates the chickens, mice, dogs, cats and most of the assorted animals which star with Betty. Sometimes she even rings in her lower register to do a male voice for occasinal characters. Versatile vocal cords.
The "Boop" of Betty's name really has nothing to do with "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" or anything like that. The cartoon girl, strangely enough evolved from a dog Max used in earlier cartoons. The dog began to get a human face and first thing Fleischer knew he has a sweet little girl. He named her Betty and cast about for a suitable patronymic, Boop! There, he had it! An alliteration and everything! Mae put in the "Boop-Boop-a-Doops" after she got to be Betty's voice.
It only takes three or four days at the most to make a cartoon and Mae loves it. It's fun, she thinks and she ought to know, for she makes 45 a year on an average. The actual synchronization takes about three hours. The cartoon is fully drawn and then the corresponding sound is spoken, sung and played into the mike while the silent cartoon unreels.
Mae gets a big kick out of ad-libbing here and there as she goes along, putting in her own stuff as she happens to think of it. The work (or play, if you have Mae's stant) used to be done at the studios at Astoria, L. I. Now it's done mostly in New York.
Children take their Betty Boop very seriously. Little boys positively cry, sometimes when they learn that she's married. They had figured on frowing up and leading her to the altar themselves. So don't rad this to the kids or Mae will never speak to this old illusion smasher again. And don't tell 'em she's over 21, either.
Betty is always 16 and never grows older, Mae's between 21 and 25 - you can't pin her down any closer. If you try, she starts talking about how she likes gold and tennis and swimming.
After her mother wouldn't let her go on the stage, Mae started teaching elocution. She had a school on Broadway and one day about five years ago on a dare entered a talent contest sponsored by Helen Kane the Boop-Boop-a-Doop girl which wasn't supposed to have been mentioned here.
As Mr. Fleischer is very mad at Miss Kane. You'll remember that Helen sued him for plagiarism or something not long ago because of Betty Boop and her Boop-Boop-a-Doops - on the ground that she had the exclusive rights to do all the Booping that was done.
At least that was the general idea and of course Mr. Fleischer didn't like it at all, so even now he won't allow anything to be said about Miss Kane in a nice way.
Anyhow, Mae won the content although it was a singing trial and she'd never sung a note before. So she went into vaudeville doing single songs, impersonations and so forth. Later she was on the radio as a mimic. The first imitation she ever did was of Chevalier (which is usually the case). After Betty Boop became famous on the screen, Mae played her on the air for a year and a half. She's worked in a number of feature pictures tooand shorts with Rudy Vallee and others.
Between cartoons, features and shorts she troupes the variety stage, as she's doing now. Nice act she has, Lots of pep and sparkle. You'll like her. Mae Questel who is the screen voice of Betty Boop, is appearing this week at the Buffalo. Working in the cartoons, she says is great fun.