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Little Ann Little
LittleAnnLittletheRealLiveBettyBoop

Name

Ann Rothschild
Annabelle Rothschild
Annie Little
Ann Werner
Betty Werner
Ann Little
Little Anne Little

Annabelle Little (1910 – October 22, 1981) better known as (Little Ann Little), was a model, singer and voice actress who gained fame as the voice of Betty Boop. From 1931 to 1933, Little Ann Little made recordings for Betty's cartoons and appeared in variety shows throughout the country. Once Little got the role of Betty Boop, she became a star. Paramount Pictures were holding contests which were sponsored by Helen Kane, most of the girls who entered those contests became the voice of Betty Boop. According to Ann she didn't enter an Helen Kane amateur contest, and was discovered by a theatrical agent who worked for Paramount and the Fleischer Studios, who thought that she would be perfect for the role. "I happened to be in a publishing house recording one day when a theatrical agent from Paramount Studios wandered in and stopped to listen." She discovered the agent was searching for a singer with a high pitched voice for Fleischer's newly created Betty Boop cartoon character. He urged her to attend auditions at Paramount Studios the following week and told her he thought she had the voice he was looking for. Ann would later make personal appearances as Betty and went on the road with the Fleischer Studios artist Pauline Comanor. Little would pose while Comanor drew a picture of Betty Boop. They both finished the act with a "Boop-Boop-a-Doop." In 1934, Helen Kane filed a $250,000 suit against Paramount and Max Fleischer, claiming unfair competition and wrongful appropriation of her image in the Betty Boop cartoons. The trial opened that year, with Kane and Betty Boop films being viewed only by the judge. No jury was called. Ann Rothschild aka Little Ann Little, Margie Hines, Kate Wright, Bonnie Poe and, most notably, Mae Questel, were all summoned to testify. Ann would continue to portray Betty in person up until the late 1940s.

Quotes 

  • Little Ann Little: "Mr. Flesicher always said I was the original Betty Boop he even won a court case over me once.
  • Little Ann Little: "Of course, there were other Boop-Boop-a-Doop girls (back in the late 1920s and early 1930s), Helen Kane (she died several years ago of cancer) was one of them."
  • Little Ann Little: "When Max Fleischer of Paramount Studios in New York was looking for someone for his new Betty Boop cartoon character in (1932), I went to the auditions and he chose me."
  • Little Ann Little: "There were hundreds of girls there and most of them could sing better than I could. But I don't know I suppose I had what he wanted. I was very tiny and very pretty, you know, and I had this high pitched voice."
  • Little Ann Little: "I'm upset, I'm tired of hearing about these ORIGINAL Betty Boops and people around here thinking I'm a fraud. I'm the original Betty Boop. I began doing Boop-Boop-a-Doop songs when I was out on the road with the vaudeville shows."
  • Little Ann Little: "My friend called me in late August to tell me he'd heard this Mae Questel on television. She's a little fat woman I met in Mr. Fleischer's office a few times saying she was the original Betty Boop on the Tom Snyder Show (NBC)."
  • Little Ann Little: "I'm upset some people around here are beginning to think I'm a fraud. They go wisp, wisp whispering about me. It bothers me.""
  • Mike Lacy: "Even though (Mae Questel's) voice was heard in several of the later cartoons, this definitely does not give her the privilege to say that she is the first voice of Betty Boop, a great cartoon star. A trial was held (the one in 1934) which proved Mrs. Rothschild to be the voice of Betty in the first Max Fleischer Betty Boop cartoon."
  • Little Ann Little: "You will find that Helen Kane lost the case, because I, as main witness for Max Fleischer and Paramount, proved that I sang the "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" songs before Helen Kane was known, as Mr. Fleischer, on the witness stand, named me as the original voice of Betty Boop."
  • Little Ann Little: "As for Mae Questel, she came into show biz when Helen Kane held an amateur contest, and she won. If Mae was the original voice of Betty Boop, why did Mr. Fleischer, the creator of Betty Boop, ask me (not Mae) to go to court with him?"

RKO Discoveries - 27th April (1930) 

RKO Discoveries

At the Kentmore Theater Chris Charlton, conjurer, tops the stage show at the RKO Kenmore Theater today, Monday and Tuesday. The surrounding features include Tom Brown and the original six Brown brothers, the syncopating saxophone comedians; Viola Rudell and Edward Dunigan, in a character comedy, "Such Is Life," by Eugene Conrad, and Jack Silver. Harry Sharpe and Johnny Grant, offering a variety of  things constituting "A Pleasant Surprise." Nancy Carroll in "Honey" is the screen's chief attraction. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the stage attractions will include Joe Daly and the RKO Discoveries, including Little Ann Little, Harry and Honeybee Finberg, Violette Flores, Joe Bisto, and "Skeets" Genaro. Gary Cooper in "Only the Brave," with Mary Brian, will be shown on the silver screen. An added feature will be Molly Picon in a singing novelty short.

Stage (1930) 

Little Anne Little 1930 RKO

Little Anne Little, the youthful comedienne, playing with Joe Daly at the RKO Capitol theatre, started to cash in on her talents long before she received her first week's salary. It is only natural that her nimble feet should have found their way into a dancing school class back in her childhood days, which are by no means a part of the distant past. Her family could only afford to send her one afternoon a week, much to the little girl's disappointment. But she was such a mischievous kid with such a happy-go-lucky air about her, and was always making such funny remarks and so many comical capers that the dancing teacher and all the other pupils found themselves enjoying a free vaudeville show whenever Anne was around. As a result, the entertaining youngster was asked to join the class every day of the week free of charge; for her presence saved the teacher the expense of providing other ways to keeping the waiting pupils amused. 

Annabelle Little (1930) 

The Boop-a-Doop Girl. (The Evening Journal)

The Boop-a-Doop Girl (1930) 

Annabelle Little the Boop-a-Doop girl. (The News Journal)

A Comedy of Pioneers (1931) 

A Comedy of Pioneers 1931

Joe Daly personally conducts the exploration into juvenile talent. In the course of events he introduces: Little Ann Little, the Helen Kane girl; Dorothy Parker, the Helen Morgan girl; Dick and Dot Libby, and Tommy wonder, who gives us an idea of what the next generation of hoofers will be like; and Harry and Honeybee Finberg and Joe Bisto, who show how well the boys and girls are getting on to this adagio business.

$250,000 Lawsuit 

Little Annie Little Betty Boop Actress Mae Questel Wanabe 1935

Little Ann Little told the court how "Boop-Oop-a-Doop" had started out as "Ba-Da-Inde-Do", which developed into "Bo-Do-De-O-Do" and finally to "Boop-Oop-a-Doop". The court stenographers glowered as Ann Little gave her account. Helen Kane's counsel asked Little, who spoke throughout the trial in a Betty Boop voice, "Oh, do you speak that way at home?" to which she replied "Yes indeedy!" Little also stated: "I sang cute baby songs and did breaks at the end of the bars of music, Miss Little said. These "breaks," she continued, included the sounds "Wha-Da-De-Dah," "Bo-Vo-Deo-Do" and even "Ba-Da-Daten-Doop," "Is that one a new one on you?" she ad libbed, directing the question at Louis Phillips, defense attorney who yesterday demonstrated a keen knowledge of spelling "baby" sounds by coming to the aid of a bewildered court stenographer. Justice McGoldrick reminded Miss Little that answering questions was all that the court expected of witnesses.

Lupe Vélez 

Lupe Velez 1933 Betty Boop Ann Little

According to a 1933 article, Ann, who played Betty Boop on the radio, also served as double for Lupe Vélez, a well known motion picture actress.

Personal Life 

Ann Little Brooklyn New York

Ann Little started in show business in 1925, as a member of the pony chorus with the Greenwich Village Follies. She was also an RKO discovery and at one time had her own program on the NBC network as singer Little Ann Little. She later moved to St. Petersburg, Florida with her husband, who was a retired employe of Consolidated Edison. In the late 1940s, she was an instructor at the Pauline Buhner School of Dance in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she taught acting, singing and dancing. Little Ann Little was very tiny, being only four feet, ten inches tall and weighing 100 pounds. She also had a squeaky voice, which made her perfect for the role of Betty Boop. Little studied the Bible, her goal was to be an ordained minister and to preach the Gospel. In 1954, Ann Rothschild was ordained as minister in the Unity Church of Christianity.

Betty Boop's Voice in person of Little Ann Little (1934) 

Ann Little as Betty Boop

Little Ann Little, who's no relation to Little Jack Little (Hi Mary) is Boop-a-Doop-a-Doing at the Colonial Theater these days (last appearance Thursday 10.15 p.m.) and Pauline Comanor, one of those lightning - like artists, is sketching anything the audience calls for. Last night she did a Clark Gable and ten fellows in one row adjusted their neckties as Betty (beg pardon, Ann) told 'em to pull in their ears. Miss Comanor is the theme artist for the Betty Boop cartoons, in and out of the ink pot. Ann, by the way is Betty III. There have been two others, all of whom put on extra weight or lost the spueak in the voicebox, Miss Little was born in Brooklyn, sang first on the stage at 8 years, doing a sister act. Then the older sister went her way and Ann hers into Max Fleischer's studios. She was just the type. Big audience on hand to welcome her last night, most of whom, seemed to enjoy the mimicry which reminded of Helen Kane, original Boop-a-Dooper and Gracie Allen. Silent pictures are shown as Ann sings the words. There's also a sound Betty Boop. (Harrisburg Telegraph)

Boopaboopadoop! Helen Kane, Etc. (1934) 

At last Little Ann Little, who Boop-a-Doopa-Dooped a Betty Boop at the Colonial has landed in the midst of the Helen Kane trial in New York. Helen is suing a quintet of damsels, whom she accuses of stealing her Boop-a-Doop-a-Doo. Ann is pictured in the N.Y. papers with Mae Questel, Margie Hines, Bonnie Poe and Katherine Wright. The girls all look happy, after all publicity is publicity. (Harrisburg Telegraph)

Famous Betty Boop Coming Here (1934) 

The Helen Kane Boop-a-Boop-a-Doop trial three "copy cats" were named Mae Questel, Margie Hines and Bonnie Poe. How about Little Ann Little, recently at the Colonial in person? And that reminds of a letter, misfiled till now. When Ann was here, she got a letter from a Proudfoot, Mechanicsburg. Ann also wrote a letter. "Dear Mr. Proudfoot, your letter was brought to my attention by the Harrisburg Telegraph and I hasten to mail you a photograph copy of which was printed in the above mentioned paper. Permit me to thank you for your interest. I am sorry you weren't in Harrisburg during my three days engagement at the Colonial Theater, where I made a personal appearance with my artist. I hope you are a Betty Boop fan also. I am 4 feet 11 inches tall or small in those high heels you wrote about, weigh M pounds and wear size 2 shoes. My age is "Boop-Boop-a-Doop." Hoping for continued interest in Betty Boop and the Harrisburg Telegraph, which paper I also found to be so Interesting, I am. Very truly yours. Betty Boop (Little Ann Little)." (Harrisburg Telegraph)

Famous Betty Boop Coming Here (1934) 

The personal appearance of Little Ann Little, the original Betty Boop of movie fame, together with Manny King and his Vanity Fair Revue, which opens a three-day engagement at the star Theater, Sunday, is something out of the ordinary. How cartoons are made is explained in the Vanity Fair Revue, and the audience is given a chance to see and hear the girl who does the talking for Betty Boop. A picture made by the Max Fleisher Studios, the creators of the Betty Boop series of cartoons, is shown during the revue. At one side of the stage the audience hears Little Ann Little sing the song that Betty would sing on the screen and which would come from the theater sound system, if Little Ann were singing in the studio. Little Ann Little is making a personal appearance tour in the middle west, prior to returning to the Paramount studios to resume her work with Max Fleisher in another series of the Betty Boop cartoons. Revue Well Balanced. An array of 30 musical comedy entertainers appear in the Vanity Fair Revue, besides the original Betty Boop girl. (Muncie Evening Press)

Betty Boop's Boop Little Ann Little Likes Her Role (1934) 

Little Ann Little, she of the four-foot, ten-inch stature who devotes her working hours to the exploitation and popularization of the "Boop-Boop-a-Doop", tripped into Sandusky last night with her show- mates and decided she'd stick around today and tomorrow to do her bit on the stage of the State Theater an explanation of the art which has popularized her voice throughout the nation as the Boop behind the Betty Boop in the talking cartoons. Little Ann, the proven originator of that form of entertainment by a court decision handed down last spring, explains in high soprano tones how she started her life work of Booping with a "Ba-Da-In-De-Do" and developed it from that into a "Bo-Do-De-O-Do." That is now an obsolete form with Little Ann, who weighs all of 95 pounds, as she followed that by perfecting the modern and scientific movie Boop which resulted in the court controversy between her and Helen Kane and her eventual victory. Makes several at once right now, she said last night at the Sloane Hotel, she's out on the road between making Betty Boop films. She does four or five at one time in the Max Fleischer studios in New York, and then dashes out to towns hither and yon to pick up some spare change until It's time to make some more. Ann's done some radio work, too, appearing in a series on "WEEl" at Boston, "WEAF" New York, and some broadcasting outlets of lesser Import. "I like to be "Betty Boop," she informed in her high C soprano tones which vary enough to carry that distinctive Booping quality. "It seems perfectly natural to me." Her hair is decidedly black, and indeed she appears much like the screen character. If you ask her, although she would obviously prefer to talk about the lighter and less arduous things of life, she'll explain how much work is required to produce just one Betty Boop seven-minute film. "There are from 10,000 to 16,000 drawings for every one of these," she explains. "Even one little step that Betty takes, requiring just a half-second on the screen, needs a dozen drawings." Likes to Travel She likes to travel. Indeed, If she didn't, her present lot would be a rather unfortunate one for she came here from Anderson, Inc., and her next stop is Wheeling, W.VA. "I hope to make it home for the Christmas holidays," she informs, "but I'm not sure of that." Right now, she has under consideration a radio series for a former sponsor, a noted furrier who operates stores in Cleveland and other principal series, which would go over a NBC network. Ann, who is 24, explains proudly, "I've been in the show business all my life." She made her first stage appearance as a baby in the Greenwich Village Follies. Ann's not married. Then she and her married sister, Julia Van Surdam were in a sister act called the "Jully Juniors." That was way back in 1926, says Annie, and it was shortly afterwards that signalized the start of the famous "Ba-Da-In-De-Do" and its lineage, the Boop. "Most of the time the drawings for my Betty Boop pictures are made first. I see the film, rehearse it, and then the sound is synchronized with the picture. Once in a while, though, they record my voice first and then play the cartoons, which of course makes It easier for me." Little Ann expects to be called back to New York at any moment to make another Betty Boop series. Max Fleischer does the calling, she informs, "Uncle Max I call him." During 20 minutes of conversation, Miss Little didn't hit one contralto note. She says it's her natural tone. (The Sandusky Register)

Betty Boop Comes Before Admirers in the Flesh (1934) 

Betty Boop in the flesh! Little Ann Little, the original "Boop-a-Doop" girl, who lends her voice to Max Fleischer's Paramount Betty Boop cartoons is coming to Muncie for a personal appearance at the Star Theater. She will be here in a three days engagement beginning Sunday, by an arrangement made with Paramount Pictures Corporation and the Max Fleischer Studios, by Manager C. Ray Andrews. The "picture" star heads a large troupe of radio, stage and screen players. She is accompanied by the Paramount Studio Orchestra which plays for the little singer in the cartoons. Little Ann Little recently won a case before a New York court when Helen Kane sued her for using "Boop-a-Doop" in the cartoons. Miss Little proved, by singing a song (which she repeats) that she was the originator of the unique style. In Tour of Country. Max Fleischer the creator of the screen Betty Boop, heard Miss Little two years ago, and signed to sing for the talking sequences of his cartoons. Miss Little recently completed her twelfth cartoon for the next year at the Fleischer Studios in New York, and is now making a tour of the country. Little Ann Little started her career nine years ago appearing as the baby of the Greenwich Village Follies. Then she joined her sister in a vaudeville "sister" act and from there became an RKO protege. Her picture work followed when Fleischer discovered her voice fitting the character he created with his pen. Over 12,000 drawings are required for a single reel Betty Boop cartoon. For Betty to take one step, 12 drawings must be made. First the drawings are made, traced on tissue paper, then on - glazed paper. Next they're opaqued in black and white and the background is put in, before the pictures are photographed. The last step is synchronizing Ann's voice to the lip movements of Betty. (Muncie Evening Press)

Four Betty Boop Girls (1934)

In 1934, Little Ann Little joined a group called the Four Betty Boop Girls, a girl group that consisted of Mae Questel, Margie Hines, and Bonnie Poe.

Betty Boop Emits a Shrill Boop-a-Doop For Local Friends (1935) 

"I send my love, kisses and a Boop-Boop-a-Doop to all my friends and followers in New Brunswick," gurgled dimple-cheeked, blue-eyed Little Ann Little, better known as Betty Boop, back stage at the RKO State Theatre last Sunday night. Dabbing cold cream about her chubby cheeks to remove the heavy make-up necessary to lend color before the strong footlights, the trill-voiced actress, whose voice has been heard in many Betty Boop and Popeye cartoon pictures, expressed her delight at having visited New Brunswick. (The Central New Jersey Home News)

Original Betty Boop to Sing at Hippodrome (1935) 

The original Betty Boop, Little Ann Little, who sang a song and landed in court, will come to the New Hippodrome theatre Saturday with an all-star revue. Miss Little was haled before the bar of justice by Miss Helen Kane who claimed she was stealing Miss Kane's style of singing. Miss Little, however proved to the satisfaction of a judge that she had been "Booping" long before Miss Kane. In the revue, presented by Manny King, famous stage headliner for 20 years, Miss Little will sing the same song that won the case for her. She will show how the "sound sequences" are made for the Betty Boop cartoons. (The Mercury)

Betty Boop Coming to Criterion (1935) 

She sung a song and won a case in court. That happened when Little Ann Little, the original Betty Boop who comes in person with Manny King and his "Vanity Fair Revue" to the Criterion Theatre, Bridgeton, for two days only, starting tomorrow, appeared in the famous Helen Kane trial and proved that she was "Booping" before Miss Kane. In the action of the sparkling revue which is brought to you, Little Ann Little sings the same song that won the case. The audience actually sees how the "sound" or the "talking" for the cartoons is done and in plain view Little Ann Little does a "sound sequence" for the screen. This screen picture was especially made for her by the Max Fleischer, studios creator of Betty Boop and is done with their permission and cooperation. (The Daily Journal)

Real Betty Boop (1936) 

Original Max Fleischer cartoon girl appears In person at Colonial Theater in 45 minutes from Broadway. Betty Boop the original Max Fleischer catroon girl now appearing with "15 Minutes Of Broadway" is a very charming and small being only four feet ten-inches in height and weighing only 96 pounds and her figure Is almost the same as that of Betty Boop's on the screen. In Betty's act she takes you to Hollywood and shows you how cartoons are made and sings on the side of the stage showing you how her voice is synchronized on the screen. She sings and dances for you and her act is enjoyed by both young and old. Little Ann Little, Betty's real name, has worked for Max Fleischer and the Paramount studio for several years and actually talks off the screen and onto the stage for you. Betty's eyes and eye lashes are exactly like Betty's on the screen as you will notice Betty has six large eye lashes at top just like the Betty Boop on the screen and it takes Betty two hours to make-up as she makes herself to look like the real Betty. The reason Little Ann Little is called the original Betty Boop is because she is the little girl who won the case from Helen Kane for Max Fleischer and the Paramount studio. You must see Betty and see how she looks and acts off the screen. (Bluefield Daily)

Thrilling Sea Picture Comes to Casino (1936) 

Ann Little Casino

Star of the stage show this week is Little Ann Little the voice of Betty Boop in the well known cartoon films. Sweet and innocent is Miss Little as her contribution starts, but finish there is! Betty is revealed as a most sophisticated person who can put a modernistic twist to the most innocuous nursery rhyme. And she does just that if she were the age she represents. "Mother would take her and scrub her mouth out with soap!" But Betty being what she is the audience seem to adore her. Which probably is a sufficient answer. 

Betty Boop In Person (1938) 

Annabell Rothschild as Betty in 1938

Even though Little Ann Little no longer voiced Betty Boop in the cartoons, she would continue to play Betty in person until the character's retirement, courtesy of Fleischer Studios. Little played Betty in person from 1933 to the late 1940s.

Chene-Trombley Show Features Betty Boop (1938) 

The original Betty Boop and her coy vocal tricks is Little Anne Little, now appearing at the Chene-Trombley Club. There were so many claimants to the honor of creating the Boop-a-Doop voice in the animated cartoon that Miss Little went to court about it, and can produce a court order, a copyright and other documentary proof to her title. (Detroit Free Press)

The Original Betty Boop (1940) 

Ann Little Betty Boop

The original "Betty Boop Girl" the screen voice of Max Fleischer's famous cartoon character, Ann Little, is coming to Albany. She will make personal appearances at today's matinee only, at Warners Ritz at 2:10 and at the Madison theatre at 3:15 o'clock, in an entertaining and novel act. A feature of Miss Little's performance will be a demonstration of how Betty Boop cartoons are made in the mammoth Fleischer studies. Released through Paramount Pictures, the Betty Boop cartoons have always been highly popular throughout the country, and Betty is one of the favorite figures of cartoonland with both young and old. Miss Little sings, dances and entertains in addition to showing the technique of animated cartoon-making. Her appearance at the Madison and Ritz theatres will be her only engagements in the city of Albany.

Little Ann Little or Betty Boop Here (1940) 

Four feet, 10 inches and 94 pounds of dynamic "Boop Boop a Doop" was in town yesterday. The personage, Little Ann Little: or the voice of Betty Boop. As far as she's concerned, by proximity of the Princeton campus. She will stay there, autographing photographs for patrons and synchronizing to a silent film of the cartoon character Betty Boop, her own voice slightly altered to fit the character of kittenish Betty. Betty or Ann or the Boop Boop a Doop Girl, is making a series of personal appearances pending her recall to Miami Beach, where the Max Fleischer studios, Betty Boop creators, are located. Now that the studio has completed the feature-length film, Gulliver's Travels. It is planning to produce a number of shorts, including those starring the coy Betty of the flattery eyelashes and mouse-like voice. Question? "Married?" Answer: "No, but I'm willing." That's just to give a slight idea of what the off-screen Betty Boop is like. (The Central New Jersey Home News)

Betty Boop (1941) 

LittleAnnLittleBettyBoop1941radioinperson

Hollywood's own "Little Ann Little" doing the songs and comedy made famous by Max Fleischer's screen cartoons, just as she's done 'em on the stage and over the radio. The biggest big time act ever seen in this area.

Ann Little's Husband Dies (1948) 

Louis Werner Ann Little 1948 Betty Boop

Louis H. Werner, 67. 850 Fifth avenue north, died in a local hospital yesterday morning at 7 o'clock. Palms Memorial will announce services. Mr. Werner, retired tax counselor of the Consolidated Edison company, came here four years ago from New York City. He was a member of the local Unity church and various masonic organizations. Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Ann Little Werner, this city; a son, Wilmot W. Werner, and five sisters and two brothers, all of New York city.

Was Once Voice of Betty Boop (1959) 

An attractive lady preacher teaches dancing here Mrs. Ann. She weighs 97 pounds. She agrees that teaching dancing is an unusual sideline for a preacher but says that her church doesn't consider it a sin. "Dancing is good for "health," she said. "It gives grace, poise and is an exercise for the brain as well as for the body." Along the same line, the church doesn't consider smoking or drinking good for health but doesn't order members to stop, said Mrs. Werner who neither smokes nor drinks herself. She is also a vegetarian because she believes a meatless diet more healthful. Werner was a dancer before she became a preacher. Born of Russian parentage, she grew up in New York City, became a "baby" star in 1923, was a dancer and comedienne for years on the RKO vaudeville circuit, and was the "voice" for Betty Boop Paramount cartoons for 12 years. She got interested in the Unity. She says the church also believes in healing through prayer and that miracles have been performed in Fort Myers in restoring members to health. Her husband, who died 11 years ago, was a vice president of Consolidated Edison and they retired to Florida, settling first at Bradenton, then moving to St. Petersburg. She was licensed in 1951 and dispatched to minister. The Unity movement was launched (in 1887 in Kansas city by Myrtle and Charles Fillmore and now has churches all over the world, Mrs. Werner said. Headquarters are at Lee's Summit, Missouri, known as the Unity School of Christianity. (News-Press)

Betty Boop Girl Will Preach Here (1970) 

Religion and show business have a great deal in common according to Ann Werner Rothschild, an ordained Protestant minister who will be remembered by many here as the. original Betty Boop gal of stage and screen fame during the 1930s. A vibrant 77-pound blue-eyed woman who stands 58 inches tall, "Little Ann" as she's known to her friends, came to Fort Myers in 1951 after being commissioned by the Unity Village School near Kansas City, to work with the struggling young local movement. Sunday she will return to preach a guest sermon for the now thriving Unity Church of Christianity at Grand and Lafayette Streets a pulpit she left 10 years ago following her marriage to Joe Rothschild. "A good performer," said Mrs. Rothschild, "is like a good preacher. He has to reach out to his audience and lift them up above their mundane problems to the realm of joy and love and hope. Like the performer, a preacher has to give abundantly of himself before he can relate to his congregation. Without a receptive audience, a performer dies inside; without a strong congregation a pastor is lost." Mrs. Rothschild can't be bothered with titles. "I've always hated to be referred to as "Reverend", she said. "After all, why should we ministers be placed on some kind of pedestal by our congregations? We're merely God's servants just as performers are in the business to serve people to give them a little happiness and from time to time open their eyes to the evil and injustice in the world to get them to love each other." Mrs Rothschild's theatrical career began "way back in the 1920s" when she joined the Greenwich Village Follies in New York City. Soon she was creating her own comedy song and dance routines and was receiving offers to appear in stage shows throughout the country. By the middle 30s, following starring roles in movies produced by Hollywood's Paramount Pictures, the name Betty Boop became a household word in America. Betty Boop cartoons and Betty Boop dolls were the rage. By 1945, Mrs. Rothschild had retired from movie and stage appearances and was operating her own Betty Boop Studio in St. Petersburg. Among the students she coached in acting, singing and dancing was Carroll Baker who has since appeared in a number of Hollywood's movie spectaculars. "I remember her as a sensitive lovely girl," recalled Mrs. Rothschild. "I taught her everything I knew about show business and after three years of vigorous coaching told her she was on her own." Unable to be "lukewarm" about anything, she decided to study for the ministry and enrolled in the Unity Village School in Kansas City, Mo. Still keeping her St. Petersburg studio in operation, she made periodic trips to the Missouri theological center and kept up a lively correspondence course with the school for the next nine years. "I became well known in the prisons around Kansas City," laughed Mrs. Rothschild, who went on to explain that each time she went out west to study religion, she was invariably asked to entertain the prisoners at county and city jails. In 1951 Mrs. Rothschild was sent by the Unity Village school to the Fort Myers Unity Center (at that time located on First Street) for on-the-job training. By 1954 she was an ordained minister in the Unity Church. Under her direction the present location was found for the local church in August, 1952. Dismayed to discover that Unity teachings were often misunderstood by groups in the community, she began a weekly program entitled "The Unity Viewpoint" over WINK radio station. Mrs. Rothschild met her second husband while ministering at the Fort Myers church and soon after their marriage resigned from active ministry. She lost her husband 10 months ago when he succumbed to the crippling pain of Parkinson's disease. "God has been good to me," said Mrs. Rothschild. "I have so many memories to look back on some are sad, but then that's life and I've always tried to live it to the fullest." Apparently she's still going strong. Mrs. Ann Werner Rothschild, an ordained minister in the Unity Church of Christianity, and the original Betty Boop show girl, recalls the similarities between her days in show business and the ministry. Listening tentatively is El Nino, her seven-year-old Chihuahua. (News-Press)

The Boop Girl Back In Action (1971) 

The Seven Lakes Wahinis rehearse Hawaiian number under the direction of Mrs. Ann Rothschild (the original Betty Boop girl) in foreground. Two vivid blue eyes peered out from a small face topped by a mop of fiery red hair. The face belonged to Ann "Betty Boop" Rothschild and it crinkled into a broad smile as she hustled her visitor into a recreation room at the Seven Lakes condominium complex. "Hurry in," she said in the same high pitched tones which brought her fame as the voice behind Max Fleischer's Betty Boop cartoons during the 1930s and early 1940s. She quickly slammed the door shut and turned the lock. "We don't want anyone to see us in our costumes," she said showing off her billow. Before arriving in Fort Myers in 1951 Mrs. Rothschild operated her own Betty Boop Studio in St. Petersburg for over five years. Among the students she coached in acting, singing step until it's mastered correctly. Your brain and feet have to work together or you're lost in dancing. There's nothing worse than working on a routine and coming up with the same mistake time and time again. If you don't correct it on the spot it'll be Baker, who has since appeared in a number of movies. At 50 plus (she won't reveal her age) Mrs. Rothschild appears to have the vitality of a 20-year-old. "Boop-Boop-a-Doop," she sang as the interview ended. Bundle of Energy Known as the Seven Lakes Wahinis, the troupe of over-60-year-olds is being coached by Mrs. Rothschild, a 77-pound, 58-inch-tall bundle of energy, for a three-minute Hawaiian act they will perform during a variety show and luau Saturday night at the development. "We don't want anyone to see our act before Saturday night. That's why we're rehearsing behind locked doors," giggled Mrs. Toni Fortney, a spritely gray-haired dancer. "We've only had three dropouts since rehearsals began three weeks ago. I think that's pretty good," she continued. Other dancers in the troupe are Mrs. Abbie Eisen-mann, Mrs. Pierina Spheno-lo Mrs. Mary Nichols, Mrs. Bea Taylor and Mrs. Cathy Connolley. "I'm real proud of these gals," said Mrs. Rothschild. "They've never danced before but they've just about got this routine down pat. And I'm a strict teacher. I don't believe in leaving one bit. Mrs. Rothschild's career in show business began in the early 1920s when she was the baby of the Greenwich Village Follies. She later teamed up with another Follies performer and played in the vaudeville houses in and around New York City a number of years. "I happened to be in a publishing house recording one day when a theatrical agent from Paramount Studios wandered in and stopped to listen." She discovered the agent was searching for a singer with a high pitched voice for Fleischer's newly created Betty Boop cartoon character. He urged her to attend auditions at Paramount Studios the following week. Sipping a cup of hot dandelion tea in her apartment following the rehearsal, Mrs. Rothschild told about the telephone call she received a couple of weeks ago from CBS television studios in New York City inviting her to appear on the "To Tell The Truth" show. "I was really tempted but I said no. You know," she mused, "I've spent 20 years of my life in show business and about 20 years studying and preaching the teachings of the Unity faith. (An ordained Protestant minister, Mrs. Rothschild has preached locally at the Unity Church of Christianity.) "If I really had to choose between my two professions I'd take the ministry, not show business sharing talents. Right now though I'm not interested in preaching or performing on the professional level because I want to play. I'm content to share my talents with the people here at Seven Lakes. These people fuss over me and are great for my ego. They also help me forget the sad memories I have. Show business is the toughest business in the world," she said. To succeed a performer needs more than talent. He has to have stamina, dedication and a magnetic thrive of personality capable of capturing and holding an audience." Mrs. Rothschild admitted she loved her days in show after seven years of nursing and praying for her second husband, he died two years ago, a victim of Parkinson's disease. Tears welled up in her eyes when she spoke of her late business but said she believed the ministry is a more rewarding profession. (News-Press)

Betty Boop Girl to Preach (1972) 

Well-known show business personality, Ann Werner Rothschild, who soared to fame with her Betty Boop routine during the 1930s, will step into the pulpit at the Unity Church of Christianity In Fort Myers to preach the 10:30 a.m. sermon Sunday. An ordained Protestant minister, Mrs. Rothschild first came to Fort Myers In 1951 after being commissioned by the Unity Village School in Kansas City, to work with the then struggling local congregation. She served as full time minister of the church for nine years and has returned only twice to the Lafayette Street pulpit during the past 12 years. (News-Press)

Boop-Boop-a-Doop (1972) 

In a recent issue of your paper there was an article stating that Miss Helen Kane the former "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" girl, was residing in Fort Myers for several years. Will you please verify that statement to settle an argument between us? C. McF. and M. S., Lehigh Acres. The original "Betty Boop" girl, Ann Rothschild, lives here. Miss Kane was a later version. (News-Press)

Ann Rothschild and Julie Van Surdan (1973) 

Ann Rothschild "Betty Boop" and her partner Julie Van Surdan and pianist Kathie Connolly entertained the American Association of Retired Persons at St. Raphael's Episcopal Church at Fort Myers Beach. (News-Press)

Guest Speaker (1973) 

A song and dance routine by the original Betty Boop girl of the 1940s with her partner, entertained the City of Palms Chapter, American Business Women of America Tuesday night at the Holiday Inn. Mrs. Ann Rothschild, the Betty Boop girl, was guest speaker and her partner was Julie Vansurdam. Kathie Connolley was pianist. Following her Betty Boop days, Mrs. Rothschild became a minister in the Unity Church. She came to Fort Myers in 1951. (News-Press)

Little Sisters (1974) 

Among the performers will be Ann Rothschild and Julie Van Surdam.who were billed as the "Little Sisters" on vaudeville Ann and Julie will be performing in "Betty Boop, Julie and Their Sweethearts." (News-Press)

Betty Boop's Response (1975) 

Little Ann Little:

"In response to the letter written by Mrs. Shirley Jean of Cape Coral, I am sorry to tell her that she has been misinformed. I have been in show biz for 20 years - 1925 to 1945; the early years featured as the youngest commedienne on the R.K.O. circuit. The last 12 years, I worked for Max Fleischer and Paramount Studios, synchronizing my voice to the Betty Boop cartoon character. Since Mrs. Jean seems to know so much about theatrical people, perhaps she would recognize my stage name, "Little Ann Little." When I did personal appearances around the country, I always used both names Little Ann Little, the voice of Betty Boop. I have proof of everything that was written in the News-Press, and if Mrs. Jean wishes to see my proof, I shall be happy to show it to her. Also, she can look up the Helen Kane quarter million suit held in the New York Supreme Court, Judge McGoldrick, in May, 1934. You will find that Helen Kane lost the case, because I, as main witness for Max Fleischer and Paramount, proved that I sang the "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" songs before Helen Kane was known, as Mr. Fleischer, on the witness stand, named me as the original voice of Betty Boop. As for Mae Questel, she came into show biz when Helen Kane held an amateur contest, and she won. If Mae was the original voice of Betty Boop, why did Mr. Fleischer, the creator of Betty Boop, ask me (not Mae) to go to court with him? Of course, I am told that some people can never be convinced, but I would like to show proof to Mrs. Jean, and perhaps we may become friends. Ann L. Rothschild ~" (News-Press)

Betty (Original) Boop Protests (1975) 

Little Ann Little:

"I still teach tap dancing to one little girl, but that's all. I like to sit and watch television. I love the soap operas. I cry and laugh with all those people, you know. I just want to clear this up. Let me show you this letter. It's from the president of my fan club. He's upset about this Mae Questel thing, too." (Florida Today)

No Duping a Boop-a-Doop (1975) 

Little Ann Little:

"I'm the original Betty Boop. I was doing the Boop-Boop-a-Doop songs when I was on the road with the vaudeville shows back in the 1920s. Then when Max Fleischer of Paramount Studios in New York was looking for someone for his new Betty Boop cartoon character in (1932), I went to the auditions and he chose me." (Press and Sun-Bulletin

Ann Rothschild On Mae Questel 

In a 1975 interview for a newspaper article, Little complained in a story Fort Myers News Press about Mae Questel. Little conveniently forgot that she and Questel had appeared on stage together after the trial against Helen Kane. Ann couldn't admit that any one else other than herself was Betty Boop. The 77-pound, 58 inch, orange-haired, blue-eyed ex-cartoon and vaudeville queen, sitting in her apartment was laughing with the soap opera games on televison, when the telephone rang and a friend told her he had heard a lady on the tube the night before claiming to be the original Betty Boop. Small balls of fire started to burn in Ann Rothschild's eyes and heart. Ann professed to being upset because others were wrongly getting credit for "being" Betty Boop. To support her claims, she quoted a letter written by Mike Lacy, then president of a Betty Boop Fan Club to radio host Tom Synder saying:

Mike Lacy:

"It has been called to my attention that Mae Questel appeared on your program Thursday, August 28, 1975. She claimed to be the original voice of Betty Boop. Mrs. Ann L Rothschild has valid proof of being the “first” Betty Boop."

Little Ann Little:

"I'm upset, I'm tired of hearing about these ORIGINAL Betty Boops and people around here thinking I'm a fraud. I'm the original Betty Boop. I began doing Boop-Boop-a-Doop songs when I was out on the road with the vaudeville shows. My friend called me in late August to tell me he'd heard this Mae Questel on television. She's a little fat woman I met in Mr. Fleischer's office a few times saying she was the original Betty Boop on the Tom Snyder Show (NBC). I'm upset some people around here are beginning to think I'm a fraud. They go wisp, wisp whispering about me. It bothers me."

Ann's Christmas Wish (1975) 

Ms. Ann Rothschild, of Fort Myers, known around the world as "Betty Boop," says, "I want every day of my life to be like Christmas. And everyone in the world to have good health and a long, happy life. "What Betty Boop would like for Christmas is something you'll have to ask her." Suddenly the voice on the other end of the telephone rises an octave and it's that famous star of stage and radio, Betty Boop herself. "All I want is Boop-Boop-a-Doop. Betty Boop wants her sweetheart to be nearby, to keep her safe, to love her so she can keep right on with Boop-Boop-a-Doop." (News-Press)

Fort Myers High School Auditorium Featuring Ann Rothschild (1977) 

Tickets for a $2 donation for the benefit of the Humane Society, Inc. The show, beginning will feature Ann Rothchild, the original "Betty Boop," in a series of skits and songs. There'll be magic shows and "other acts of the era" as well. Tickets are only $2 per person and you can pick one up at the Humane Society Shelter on Anderson Avenue, the Images Unlimited shop on Cleveland Avenue, in Fort Myers, Gino's Pizza on Fort Myers Beach, Our Creations in Lehigh Acres and the Suncoast Seafood restaurant in North Fort Myers. (News-Press)

Songs Performed by Ann Little

Filmography

1931

1932

1933-1945

  • Betty Boop in person and on radio (1930s-1940s)

Death 

  • Ann Rothschild died at the age of 79 in 1981.

Gallery 

Trivia 

  • Is not to be confused with silent movie star Ann Little.
  • Little claimed she was the original voice of Betty Boop when in fact the original voice was Margie Hines
  • According to a 1934 news article Ann was the 3rd voice of Betty Boop, not the 1st and had debuted in 1932. Although the information given may be inaccurate as Little is adamant that she did the role before Questel. There are some sources that claim Ann was the first voice of Betty Boop and that Margie was the second, making it hard to pin-point their roles as both women sound alike in the early cartoons.
  • Ann told Leslie Cabarga that she had debuted in the role as Betty Boop after the premier of Dizzy Dishes which would have been 1930. 
  • Ann did appear in some newspaper articles about the lawsuit where she was dubbed the "original" voice of Betty Boop.
  • Ann was married twice, her first husband was Joe Rothschild and her second was Louis Werner.
  • In Charm School, she went by the name Betty Werner. After her husband died, she reverted back to Ann Rothschild.
  • In vaudeville, she was known as "Miss Little Ann Little", once she was married she was known as Ann Werner.
  • Unlike Questel, Poe or Hines, who could do multiple voice roles Betty Boop was the only cartoon voice Ann could do because, although she tried to change her voice, it was so distinctive that producers told her it would have easily been recognized. Although in a 1935 article it stated that Ann had been featured in the Popeye cartoon series, but wouldn't state what role and or roles she played.
  • Ann Rothschild played Betty Boop in person and on stage from the 1930s to the 1940s she also signed autographs and did publicity photographs as Betty.
  • After her husband died in 1948, Little set up the Betty Boop School of Dancing in St. Petersburg to teach singing, dancing and elocution.
  • In 1941, Little who was with Paramount Films for 20 years, did hair and photographic make-up for a Charm School, which was featured in the newspapers.
  • Her most famous pupil was Carroll Baker, who she taught for three years.
  • Ann closed her School in 1951 and went to Fort Myers to set up a Christian Unity Church.
  • Ann Rothschild envied Mae Questel's fame and complained about the latter in a story in the Fort Myers News-Press.
  • Little Ann Little claimed that Fleischer Studios colored Betty Boop's hair red because she had red hair.
  • Little deluded herself into thinking the Helen Kane lawsuit trial was about her and could not bring herself to admit that anyone else was Betty Boop.
  • Little could never quite explain why she was replaced by Mae Questel.
  • In 1971, CBS invited Ann to appear on the To Tell the Truth show, Ann declined their offer stating that she was tempted but spent 20 years of her life in show business and about 20 years studying and preaching the teachings of the Unity faith. 

See Also