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Little Ann Little

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Little Ann Little
Ann Little as Betty Boop

Name

Ann Rothschild
Annabel Rothschild
Annie Little
Ann Werner
Betty Werner
Ann Little

Annabel Rothschild, or 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; she would also make personal appearances as Betty. Little Ann Little 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. 

RKO Discoveries - 27th April (1930)

At the Kentmore Theater Chris Charlton conjurer, tops the stage show at the RKO Kenmore Theater today. Monday and Tuesda. 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 attrraction.

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 slver screen. An added feature will be Molly Picon in a singing novelty short.

$250,000 Lawsuit

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!"

Personal Life

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)

Though Little Ann Little no longer voiced Betty Boop in the cartoons, she would continue to play her in person until the character's retirement, courtesy of Fleischer Studios.  Little played Betty in person from 1933 to 1938.

Friday, March 1938

On our stage show - at both shows

Betty Boop in Person

Paramount's Famous Cartoon Star

Little Ann Little

Courtesy of Max Fleischer Studios

Presenting a Delightful 

Novelty Act

Showing you how the famous Betty Boop cartoons 

are prepared for the theatre program!

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 Rothschilds 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 Boop's 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). I'm upset some people around here are beginning to think I'm a fraud. They go wisp, wisp wisping about me. It bothers me."

 Ann Rothschild On How She Was Chosen to Voice Betty Boop

"When Max Fleischer was looking for someone for his new Betty Boop cartoon character I went to the audition and he chose me. 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 On Herself as the Original Betty Boop

"Mr Flesicher always said I was the original Betty Boop he even won a court case over me once.

Gallery

Trivia

  • Little claimed she was the "original" voice of Betty Boop when in fact it was Margie Hines. Little's claim was half true as she had also voiced the character in 1930, but Hines had provided the voice for the character in Dizzy Dishes (the first cartoon to feature the character) then again in Barnacle Bill. Little claimed they made 18 cartoons a year and that she then filled in the dialouge. The truth is that she provided the vocals for "1-2" cartoons and then went on to play Betty in person. The real women who recorded most of the Betty Boop cartoons were Margie Hines, Mae Questel and Bonnie Poe, all three were featured in a newspaper article against Helen Kane as providing the most voice-overs in the Betty Boop cartoon series, which makes Little's claim untrue.
  • 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.
  • Betty Boop was the only cartoon voice she 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 1933 to 1938; 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.

Death

  • Ann Rothschild died at the age of 71 in 1981.

Songs Performed as Betty Boop

Filmography

See Also

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