Bonnie Poe
Bonnie poe1


Clara Rothbart, Bonnie Poe, Crazy Poe, Izzy

Bonnie Poe, born Clara Rothbart was a New Yorker who voiced the animated character Betty Boop starting from 1933 at the age of 18. By 1935, she was 20 years old and had finished with the Betty Boop series and moved back to radio. Poe started out doing Betty's voice on the Betty Boop Frolics radio show on NBC in 1932. Her Betty Boop voice was a impersonation of 1920s singer and actress Helen Kane. Bonnie Poe's first role in the Fleischer cartoons can be heard in the 1933 Screen SongBoilesk as a flapper using the same voice she used for Betty Boop, alongside Billy Costello. Poe did the inital voice for Olive Oyl, but was later replaced by Mae Questel. Poe continued to do the voice for Betty Boop from 1934 to 1935. She later provided Betty's voice in two 1938 shorts when Questel was unavailable, and was subsequently replaced by Kate Wright and Margie Hines. Bonnie Poe can also be heard in a majority of the Fleischer Studios cartoons from 1933-1938, including the Color Classics releases. Apart from being a radio voice-over, Poe was also a nightclub singer with her age being given as 10.

Clara Rothbart

Bonnie Poe Betty Boop's Real Name Was Ciara Rothbart

According to a Buffalo Evening News article dated the 8th of March 1934, Bonnie Poe's real name was Clara Rothbart. The reason given was to allow time for program. The article stated the stars adapted in the cause of billing, appropriateness and euphony. The Quad-City Times also reported on the 15th of April 1934, that a song performed by Bonnie Poe (Betty Boop) would not seem the same if an announcer introduced her correctly as Clara Rothbart.

Betty Boop (1933)

Bonnie Poe voice of Betty Boop NBC Radio 1933

Poe's portrait was featured in a 1933 article which stated; Betty Boop, whose antics on the NBC network bring to mind the character of the animated cartoon, as seen by The Times-Union Staff Artist.

 $250,000 Lawsuit

Bonnie Poe Vs Helen Kane

Bonnie Poe served as defense in the Helen Kane lawsuit against Betty Boop. It was stated that Margie Hines, Mae Questel and Poe were as much Boop-Oop-a-Doop girls as Kane.The latter however avered that they got their start "Booping" through contests which were sponsored by Helen Kane.

Mistaken for Helen Kane

April 1934 Bonnie Poe Mistaken for Helen Kane

In April 1934, A summons obtained by a judgement against Miss Kane obtained by a Fifth avenue clothing store to collect a bill of $40.65 was served mistakenly on Miss Bonnie Poe, a motion picture singer, who took part in the animated films dispute. Miss Poe's resemblance to Miss Kane was so startling that the process server refused to believe she was not Miss Kane and touched her with the summons. It fell to the floor and was picked up by a reporter. 

Hollywood on Parade No. A-8

Mae Questel dressed up as Betty Boop, has to hide one withered arm

(Mae Betty Boop Questel dressed up as Betty Boop)

At the age of 18 (1933) Bonnie Poe appeared in a live-action short called Hollywood on Parade No. A-8 as Betty Boop, alongside Bela Lugosi as Dracula. She performed a song called "'My Silent Love". The controversy is that Betty is portrayed by Poe, such controversy coming from Helen Kane, the “Original Boop-Oop-a-Doop Girl,” a popular singer who capitalized on her novel coquettish voice to become an on-stage hit in the late 1920s through early 1930s. Kane sued over the impersonation of her as Betty Boop. Any such appearance as Betty Boop would have negated her claim. Above is an image of Mae Questel, who has to hide one of her 'withered arms', while dressed up as Betty Boop. Various books mistake Bonnie Poe for Mae Questel, who had previously played the character in the live-action short entitled Musical Justice.

Bonnie poe as Betty Boop 02

(Bonnie Poe dressed up as Betty Boop in Hollywood on Parade No. A-8)

The person playing Betty Boop in Hollywood on Parade No. A-8 could not have been Mae Questel, due to the fact that Mae had one withered arm and always had to hide it behind her back or have her hands on her hips, as seen when she portrayed Betty Boop in Musical Justice. Before being given the role of Betty Boop, Bonnie Poe was referenced in a 1933 newspaper stating that she would soon make her way to Hollywood.

Hotel Roosevelt Grill (1933)

Among those spotted this week in the Hotel Roosevelt grill where genial Reggie Childs and his WZJ-WOR orchestra play: Conrad Thi-bault, Lulu McConnell, Sisters of Skillet (very sad looking, by the way), the Harmonians, Frank Novak, Harriet Lee, Gladys Rice, Helene Daniels, Lanny Ross, Bonnie Poe and Ben Alley.

Secrecy Results In Suit

Bonnie Poe George Raft

George is a tight-lipped fellow where his private affairs are concerned. That's a lesson he undoubtedly learned playing in the Tenth av. of 20 years ago, when chance acquaintances might be Gophers - the powerful "mob" which ruled the neighborhood. When fortune plopped him down in Hollywood, he kept his marriage secret. He kept it so secret, in fact that a pretty little thing named Bonnie Poe (no relation of Edgar Allan) was embolden to sue him for $25,000 charging breach-of-promise. She's a Los Angeles nightclub hostess and her demands are still legally pending. Along Broadway they speak of George as a naive young man at heart, for all the exotic Latinveneer of his screen characterizations and for all his crimp, hard-boiled Tenth av. accent and knowing swagger. Broadway is sympathetic. 


In 1933, Bonnie Poe was featured in a Brooklyn newspaper where she would give advice in a news column. Poe: "The trouble with modern marriage is that too many couples think a pair beats a full house." Poe: "An efficiency expert is a man hired to fire old employees by an executive who is too tender hearted to do it himself." In 1934, Bonnie Poe appeared in Rambling Round Radio Row as a Betty Boop performer. She performed a song called "Pudding Head Jones", and also added the scat lyrics "Boop-Oop-a-Doop" into her song. She was also known as Beth, Crazy Poe & Izzy. Her name has also sometimes been misspelled as Bunny Po. Bonnie Poe could last be seen in person with the other voices of Betty Boop in 1934, in the Fleischer Victory Newsreel. She helped Mae Questel with the Booping to the song "Don't Take My Boop-Oop-A-Doop Away", after winning the Helen Kane $250,000 Lawsuit. Poe then went to perform her Boop routine with Little Ann Little, Mae Questel and Margie Hines on the Paramount Stage in New York City. Poe also voiced Betty in 1938 two times before the role was taken over by Kate Wright and Margie Hines. Poe also provided the voice for Olive Oyl one last time in I Yam Lovesick, doing an impression of ZaSu Pitts for the very first time. Poe also did a radio interview with Billy Costello, the original voice of Popeye. In 1935, Bonnie Poe had a role on radio station NBC-W1OD, in a program called House of Glass, which was created by Gertrude Berg. Poe played the role of Dottie Martin, an out-of-work entertainer who temporarily juggled trays in a hotel.


In 1937 Bonnie Poe made public appearances in nightclubs, where she was dubbed "The Original Betty Boop". In her routine she would sing, and do a bit of comedy. 

Betty Boop's Double Shift

Bonnie Poe's archived "Boop Oop a Doop" voice-over from the official cartoon series was used in the 2007 Nintendo DS Game Betty Boop's Double Shift.

Songs Performed as Betty Boop


  • Bonnie Poe died from complications connected to pneumonia in 1993.








  • Margie Hines Van Beuren credits were erroneously attributed to Bonnie Poe.
  • According to Fleischer historian Ray Pointer Bonnie Poe also provided the voice for the Mae West-like character in the 1936 Popeye cartoon Never Kick a Woman.
  • Bonnie Poe can be heard in a majority of Betty Boop cartoons from 1933-1934 and lastly in 1938. 
  • Sometimes she would utter "Poop-Poop-Pe-Doop" instead of "Boop-Oop-a-Doop".
  • In 1934, Bonnie Poe filed a $25,000 heart balm action against George Raft.

See Also

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.