|Little Ann Little|
Annabelle Little (Little Ann Little), was a voice actress who gained fame as the voice of Betty Boop. From 1930 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 was holding a contest which was sponsored by Helen Kane, for a girl with a squeaky voice to play the role of the cartoon character. Little tried out for the role and got the part. Ann told illustrator Leslie Cabarga that she was signed up to do the voice after the premier of Dizzy Dishes. She 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.
- 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."
RKO Discoveries - 27th April (1930)
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 Duniganin a character comedy. Such Is Life by Eugene Conrad and Jack Silver. Offering a variety of things constituting A Pleasant Surprise. Nancy Carroll in Honey is the screens 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, Skeets, Genaro, Gary Cooper "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.
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.
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.
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.
Thrilling Sea Picture Comes to Casino (1936)
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)
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)
Betty Boop (1941)
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.
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:
"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."
- Little claimed she was the original voice of Betty Boop when in fact the original voice was Margie Hines. Little also did the voice in 1930 making her also one of the several original voices of Betty Boop, meaning she did the voice before Mae Questel who was the most famous voice of Betty Boop.
- 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 second husband being Joe Rothschild.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ann Rothschild died at the age of 71 in 1981.
Songs Performed as Betty Boop
- Mysterious Mose (1930)
- Betty Co-Ed (1931)
- I'll Be Glad When You're Dead You Rascal You (1932)
- Portraying Betty in person (1930s-1940s)