FANDOM


Mae Questel
Mae Questel the Real Life Betty Boop Most Famous

Name

(Mae Questel Wiki)
Mae Kwestel
Mae Questelle
Mae Questel
Mae Questal
Little Miss Mimic
Mae Betty Boop Questal
"Voice of Experience, Stage, Screen, Recordings, TV and Radio Commercials."

 
Mae Questel
Mae Questel, Voice of Betty Boop and Olive Oyl09:15

Mae Questel, Voice of Betty Boop and Olive Oyl


Name

Mae Questel

Mae Questel was a voice actress best known for voicing Olive Oyl and Betty Boop. At the age of 17, she won a competition that was held in the RKO Fordham Theater in order to select a young lady who could most successfully imitate Helen Kane's baby talk act, singing "He's So Unusual". Cartoon filmmaker Max Fleischer saw Questel's impersonation of Helen Kane in 1931 and asked her to use it for his cartoon creation, Betty Boop. The character, which began life as a cartoon dog with Kane-like affectations, had already been voiced by various actresses, most notably Margie Hines, Little Ann Little, Bonnie Poe, and Kate Wright. Each of these actresses utilized Kane's flirty, babydoll voice and catchphrase "Boop Oop a Doop," but it was Questel who made Betty Boop a media phenomenon. A better singer and improviser than her predecessors, she also modeled for Fleischer's animators, who based many of the character's emerging physical quirks on Questel's own mannerisms. Indeed, Questel told Leslie Cabarga, author of The Fleischer Story; "I actually lived the part of Betty Boop, walked, talked, everything! It took me a long time to sort of lower my voice and get away from the character." She began in vaudeville, and played occasional small roles in films and television later in her career, most notably the role of Aunt Bethany in 1989's National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation . Over the years, she played a number of small parts, including appearing with Rudy Vallee as Betty Boop in the 1931 short Musical Justice, and as a nurse in The Musical Doctor (1932). From 1931 until 1938, Questel provided the voice of Betty and had the longest run for any actress doing so. During the 1930s, she released a recording of "On the Good Ship Lollipop", which sold more than two million copies. Mae also used to portray Betty in person and after a Betty Boop cartoon had been shown to a live audience, she would jump through a paper heart dressed as Betty, and also appeared on radio as Betty. most prominent was her appearance on The Shell Show. January 16, 1937. Instead of saying "Boop Oop a Doop" Mae would often say Boop-Boop-"e"-Doop (to make it her own) and sometimes Boop-Boop-"Be"-Doop. The "e" can be heard clearly in some of her Boop routines. Betty's actual scat lyrics are supposed to be Boop-Oop-"a"-Doop. In the 1962 college comedy episode Gentlemen Caller, Mae plays a character called Jenny and states her fave song is "Button Up Your OvercoatDuring the 1980s, Mae Questel became ill and retired, but still had a contract with King Features for Olive Oyl from the Popeye the Sailorman series.  In 1980, Questel was replaced by Victoria D'orazi because it was felt by New Line Cinema that Questel's voice was inappropriate for the new songs that were included. Questel was also replaced by Desirée Goyette in 1985 as the voice of Betty Boop. The reason for this was that Bill Melendez commented that he had planned to animate the character better than the Fleischer artists ever had. He stated that he had no plans to hire any of the original animators who had worked on the original shorts, nor would he consider using Mae Questel, Betty's longtime voice. According to Desirée Goyette, Questel was contacted first but she was elderly at the time and her voice had dropped; "quite a lot actually." Mae Questel reprised her role as Betty in the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit,  yet in 1989 she would be replaced again by Melissa Fahn. George Evelyn, the director of Betty Boop's Hollywood Mystery, told a writer of a production company that he wanted to re-create the Fleischer look and did so in part with the help of Richard Fleischer, who supplied materials from the family archives. Everlyn had wanted to use Mae Questel for Betty's voice, but she was busy filming Woody Allen's segment of New York Stories. Evelyn launched a series of auditions, and in true "Hollywood" fashion the secretary (Melissa Fahn) at the recording studio that was producing copies of the audition tapes had the voice Evelyn sought. During the 70s and 80s, Questel used her Betty Boop voice in interviews and conventions and would occasionally perform a song made popular by Helen Kane, "Button Up Your Overcoat", a song which was never performed by Betty Boop in the cartoon series. Mae's rendition of "Ain't Cha", from the 1932 cartoon The Betty Boop Limited in which has been heard by over 14,223,329 people is Mae's most popular "Boop Oop a Doop" song to date. A song in which was lip-synced and went viral by a YouTuber by the name of Jbunzie.

Quotes

  • Mae Questel: "The man who introduced us seemed to dwell longer on my likeness to Miss Kane than he did on the others, and the audience resented what it felt was partiality to me. The contest was to be decided on the cheers of the audience, and when I went on I thought that the announcer had killed my chances to win. I guess I was the most surprised person in the theater when I was selected." (The Buffalo Evening News, 1931)
  • Mae Questel: "It was such fun I loved everything I did. And I loved Max, he was wonderful to me. He called me my little Betty Boop. Boopy-Doopy-Doopy-Doop-Boop-Boopy-Doop, Bop!"

Characters voiced by Mae Questel in the Betty Boop Series

Other Work

Mae Questel also provided the voice of Cute Kitty and Louise the Mouse in Famous Studios Herman & Katnip, Little Audrey and background voices in Casper the Friendly Ghost and Little Lulu in their respective animated shorts; the Woman in the Shoe and Little Bo Peep in Color Classics. In the 1950s, she was the voice for the title character of the pioneering interactive Saturday morning cartoon series Winky Dink and You. Questel was also featured as Buzz the Bee scout in Mr. Bug Goes to Town. She continued to provide the voice for Olive Oyl in television specials and elsewhere until her death.

Songs Performed by Mae Questel as Betty Boop

Other

Mae Questel on her Decca Recordings (1970s):  Mae Questel: "You know, I'm a collector's item now. Some of the old records I made for the Decca people are now buying as collectors items.".

Recordings as The Betty Boop Girl:

Shirley Temple Song Covers:

Other:

Zelig:

Filmography

1931

1932

1933

1934

1935

1936

1937

1938

1988

Death

  • Mae Questel died in 1998 from complications related to Alzheimer's disease at the age of 89 in New York City. She was buried in West Babylon, New York's New Montefiore Cemetery. She had two sons, Robert Balkin, who pre-deceased her, and Richard, who survived her.

Gallery

Trivia

  • Questel had a withered arm; in her on-camera film appearances, she was usually photographed with elbows bent and both hands at her waist or holding an object in the crook of her elbow to make it less obvious that one arm was shorter and smaller than the other.
  • Mae Questel was once thought to have been the only voice of Betty Boop, when Betty was revived in the 1980s. She was also once credited for every cartoon released, that had been ported to VHS and DVD.  She would be credited as doing over 100 cartoons as Betty.
  • Questel had embarked upon a career in teaching when some of her friends, knowing her to be a natural mimic, entered her in a Helen Kane impersonation contest at the RKO Fordham Theater, where Miss Helen Kane was appearing.
  • Questel's dead-on mimicry earned her a contract with the RKO vaudeville circuit which finally kicked off her professional career of voice acting.
  • Mae Questel is perhaps best known as "Aunt Bluebell" in the 1970s Scott Towels paper towel commercials, and as Aunt Bethany in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.
  • Mae Questel is often mistaken for Bonnie Poe in Hollywood on Parade No. A-8.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, her voice was pitched higher as her natural voice had dropped.

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.