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Mae Questel
Mae Questel the Real Life Betty Boop Most Famous

Name

(Mae Questel Wiki)
Mae Kwestel
Mae Questelle
Mae Questel
Mae Questal
May Questelle
Little Miss Mimic
Mae "Betty Boop" Questal
Helen Kane's Greatest Rival
"Voice of Experience, Stage, Screen, Recordings, TV and Radio Commercials."

Audio:

Mae Questel as Betty Boop:

Mae Questel as Betty Boop

Audio:

Mae Questel as Olive Oyl:

Mae Questel as Olive Oyl
The Many Voices of Mae Questel
The Many Voices of Mae Questel

The Many Voices of Mae Questel


Name

May Kwestel

Mae Questel was a voice actress best known for voicing Olive Oyl and Betty Boop. At the age of 17, she won a competition in order to select a young lady who could most successfully imitate Helen Kane's baby talk act, singing "He's So Unusual" in a "Helen Kane Impersonation Contest". 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 in 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 Overcoat." During the 1980s, Mae Questel became ill and retired, but still had a contract with King Features for Olive Oyl from the Popeye the Sailor 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 in the "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" style. "Button Up Your Overcoat," is a song that was never performed by Betty Boop in the cartoon series, but was a popular song in the 1920s, and has been covered by a galaxy of performers, Ruth Etting was one of the latter. Mae's rendition of "Ain'tcha", 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, even surpassing Helen Kane's original version of the song. A song in which was lip-synced and went viral by a YouTuber by the name of Jbunzie, who in turn lip-synced the audio directly from an old Betty Boop Wikia YouTube channel titled Betty Boop Sings, before JBunzie lip-synced to the channel, the channel itself has already had thousands of views, but JBunzie lip-syncing to the song, made the channel blow up even more and also made her a famous YouTuber in the process and also brought attention to Mae Questel's vocal ability. 

Quotes 

  • Mae Questel: "Betty Boop'll live forever, I hope." (Motion Picture Herald, 1932)
  • Mae Questel: "Max re-vamped the character, using a caricature of my own face to create Betty Boop." (The Register, 1975)
  • Mae Questel: "You know, Betty Boop was always thought of as sexy but Max (her creator) would always say - She's my little girl." (The Register, 1975)
  • 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!"
  • Mae Questel: "Grim Natwick was one of the head animators with Max Fleischer, and he was doing a little dog and he decided let's make a little girl out of her and he spoke to Max about it and before you know it, they made a face and they had me walking and doing little things and that's how she became Betty Boop."
  • Mae Questel: "She was different, cute and almost for real, you know? Like a little girl, or a grown up girl with a sexy look about her."
  • Mae Questel: "I always acted like her, and 'I still can do her voice if I want to, you know way up,' haha! 'Boop! Boop-Oopy-Doop!' Hahaha!
  • Mae Questel: "I think it's wonderful. Everybody loves Betty Boop. In fact a producer from the coast is trying to put together some brand new Boop cartoons. She's still doing commercials in Japan. I think it's wonderful." (Boston Globe, 1980)
  • Mae Questel: "I mostly did Olive Oyl and that was a lot of fun. But everywhere I went people wanted to know about Betty Boop. They have Betty Boop T-shirts and fanclubs now. People are rediscovering her and I think it's marvelous." (Boston Globe, 1980)
  • Mae Questel: "If I showed you what I looked like years ago - I was cute as hell!" (NYT, 1989)
  • Mae Questel: "Right after they showed a Betty Boop cartoon, I'd break through a sheet of paper and I'd be in the black dress with the garter and a big red heart." (NYT, 1989)
  • Mae Questel: "Mae West never minded that I imitated her. She told me 'yer pretty good.' In fact I used to tour with her in Florida and don't ask me about the backstage goings-ons because I won't tell you." (NYT, 1989)
  • Mae Questel: "In World War II when Jack Mercer the actor was in the service, someone dressed as Popeye was hired to fill in for Popeye and was brought into the RCA studio, but he got mic fright so I stepped in and did the voice for Popeye." (NYT, 1989)
  • Mae Questel: "I was in a porn movie (Hot Resort, 1985) and I didn't know it until afterwards." (NYT, 1989)

Role(s) 

Character(s)
1931-1938 Boopalooptitle Betty Boop Silly Scandals
1931 That Old Gang of Mine Cat Mariah Cat That Old Gang of Mine
1932 Betty Boop's Mama Mother Mrs. Boop Minnie the Moocher
1932 Billy boop oop a doop Billy Boop Let Me Call You Sweetheart
1932 Lady Stopping the Show Lady Stopping the Show
1932 Fanny Brice Stopping the Show Fanny Brice Stopping the Show
1932 BettyBoopCrazyTownLady1932 (Mae Quetel) Lady Crazy Town
1932 BettyBoopsMuseumCharacterMummy1932 (Mae Questel) Mummy Betty Boop's Museum
1932 BettyBoopsMuseumCharacterLady1932 (Mae Questel) Lady Betty Boop's Museum
1933-1962 OllyOyl Olive Oyl I Eats My Spinach
1933 Babbbbbbby1 Baby Boop Is My Palm Read
1933 Queenevil2 Queen Snow White
1937 Foxxy2 Junior The Foxy Hunter
1988 Whobooped2 Betty Boop Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Boop-Boop-a-Doop Champ (1930)

Boop-Boop-a-Doop Champ Mae Questel 1930

Mae Questel, famous because she isn't Helen Kane, yet she could be, wears the blue satin frock again and later trousers and sleeveless middy of rajah silk. Almost unbelievable but it's a fact, with Miss Questel's applause there was hissing. One solution was the noise was hisses from discontented contestants - Miss Questel being the winner. 

Mae Questel, the New Helen Kane (1930)

Waitye Hoyt Jan 1930 Mae Questel - Watch Out Helen Kane She's Gonna Take Your Job

They gag and warble Coots' hits, also some others, later bringing on Mae Questel, the lass who won the tri-boro Helen Kane contest. Mae got a big ovation, many thinking she was the original Boop-Boop-a-Dooper. She took the house by storm, even after the mixed identity situation was cleared up by Coots. This kid is the real stuff, has looks, great delivery and a truckload of personality. Miss Kane, watch your treading. That's what happens for being good-natured and offering prizes for imitations. 

A Battery of Songs (1930)

Mae Questel Waite Hoyt Do Something 1930

Mae Questel, the little lady who won a Helen Kane impersonation contest in New York a few months ago, is now touring the R-K-O vaudeville circuit with no little success. It was Miss Questel you heard singing "Do Something" to Waite Hoyt, the Yankee pitcher, in a short which recently was shown at the Warner.

Radio Programs (1931)

Mae Questel Radio Impersonator 1931

8:30 - KDKA - Mae Questel, impersonator. 

Four Betty Boop Girls (1934)

4 Betty Boop Girls Paramount Group

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

Betty Boop (1935)

Bettyboopquestel1935Fox

Mae Questel the Betty Boop "voice" in the popular comedy cartoon series. She is appearing this week in person at the Fox.

Mae Questel, the Cartoon Betty Boop (1937)

Mae Questel Impersonates Mae West Greta Garbo Maurice Chevalier ZaSu Pitts 1937

Mae Questel, the cartoon Betty Boop, definitely delighted the patrons with her squealish warbling of "What's Wrong With You," "I'm Dangerous Betty Boop" and "Invitation to a Dance," in which she impersonates Marlene Dietrich, ZaSu Pitts, Mae West, Greta Garbo, Maurice Chevalier. For her bow-off, the gaggy bit "I've Got To Go."

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:

A Battery of Songs:

Zelig:

Filmography 

1930:

  • A Battery of Songs

1931:

1932:

1933:

1934:

1935:

1936:

1937:

1938:

1944:

  • The Anvil Chorus Girl
  • Spinach Packin' Popeye
  • Puppet Love
  • Pitchin' Woo at the Zoo
  • She-Sick Sailors

1945:

  • Tops in the Big Top
  • Shape Ahoy
  • For Better or Nurse
  • Mess Production

1946:

  • House Tricks?
  • Service with a Guile
  • Klondike Casanova
  • Peep in the Deep
  • Rocket to Mars
  • Rodeo Romeo
  • The Fistic Mystic
  • The Island Fling

1947:

  • Abusement Park
  • I'll Be Skiing Ya
  • Popeye and the Pirates
  • The Royal Four-Flusher
  • Wotta Night
  • Safari So Good
  • All's Fair at the Fair

1948:

  • Olive Oyl for President
  • Wigwam Whoopee
  • Pre-Hysterical Man
  • Popeye Meets Hercules
  • A Wolf in Sheik's Clothing
  • Spinach vs Hamburgers
  • Snow Place Like Home
  • Robin Hood-Winked
  • Symphony in Spinach

1949:

  • Popeye's Premiere
  • Lumberjack and Jill
  • Hot Air Aces
  • A Balmy Swami
  • Tar with a Star
  • Silly Hillbilly
  • Barking Dogs Don't Fite

1950:

  • Gym Jam
  • Beach Peach
  • Jitterbug Jive
  • Popeye Makes a Movie
  • Baby Wants Spinach
  • Quick on the Vigor
  • The Farmer and the Belle

1952

  • Lunch with a Punch
  • Swimmer Take All

1953:

  • Ancient Fistory
  • Popeye's Mirthday
  • Toreadorable
  • Baby Wants a Battle
  • Firemen's Brawl
  • Shaving Muggs

1954:

  • Floor Flusher
  • Popeye's 20th Anniversary
  • Taxi-Turvy
  • Bride and Gloom
  • Fright to the Finish
  • Private Eye Popeye

1955:

  • Cookin' with Gags
  • Nurse to Meet Ya
  • Beaus Will Be Beaus
  • Car-azy Drivers
  • Mister and Mistletoe
  • Cops Is Tops
  • A Job for a Gob

1956:

  • Hill-billing and Cooing
  • Popeye for President
  • Out to Punch
  • Assault and Flattery
  • Parlez Vous Woo
  • I Don't Scare
  • A Haul in One

1957:

  • Nearlyweds
  • The Crystal Brawl
  • Spooky Swabs

1960:

  • Hits and Missiles
  • Barbecue for Two
  • Muskels Schmuskels
  • Hoppy Jalopy
  • Dead-Eye Popeye
  • Mueller's Mad Monster
  • Caveman Capers
  • Bullfighter Bully
  • Ace of Space
  • College of Hard Knocks
  • Abdominal Snowman
  • Ski-Jump Chump
  • Irate Pirate
  • Foola-Foola Bird
  • Uranium on the Cranium
  • Two-Faced Paleface
  • Childhood Daze
  • Sheepish Sheep-Herder
  • Track Meet Cheat
  • Crystal Ball Brawl
  • Interrupted Lullaby
  • Sea No Evil
  • From Way Out
  • Seeing Double
  • Swee'pea Soup
  • Hag Way Robbery
  • The Lost City of Bubble-Lon
  • There's No Space Like Home
  • Potent Lotion
  • Astro-Nut
  • Where There's a Will
  • Take It Easel
  • I Bin Sculped
  • Fleas a Crowd
  • Popeye's Junior Headache
  • Egypt Us
  • The Big Sneeze
  • The Last Resort
  • Jeopardy Sheriff
  • Baby Phase
  • Goon with the Wind
  • Insultin' the Sultan
  • Dog-Gone Dog-Catcher
  • Voice from the Deep or See Here, Sea Hag
  • Matinee Idol Popeye
  • Beaver or Not
  • Battery Up
  • Deserted Desert
  • Skinned Divers
  • Popeye's Service Station
  • Coffee House
  • Popeye's Pep-Up Emporium
  • Bird Watcher Popeye
  • Time Marches Backwards
  • Popeye's Pet Store
  • Ballet de Spinach
  • Sea Hagracy
  • Spinach Shortage
  • Popeye and the Dragon
  • Popeye the Fireman
  • Popeye's Pizza Palace
  • Down the Hatch
  • Lighthouse Keeping
  • Popeye and the Phantom
  • Popeye's Picnic
  • Out of This World
  • Madam Salami
  • Timber Toppers
  • Skyscraper Capers
  • Private Eye Popeye
  • Little Olive Riding Hood
  • Popeye's Hypnotic Glance
  • Popeye's Trojan Horse
  • Frozen Feuds
  • Popeye's Corn-Certo
  • Westward Ho-Ho
  • Popeye's Cool Pool
  • Jeep Jeep
  • Popeye's Museum Piece
  • Golf Brawl
  • Wimpy's Lunch Wagon
  • Weather Watchers
  • Popeye and the Giant
  • Hill Billy Dilly
  • Popeye and the Magic Hat
  • Pest of the Pecos
  • The Blubbering Whaler
  • Popeye and the Spinach Stalk
  • Shoot the Chutes
  • Tiger Burger
  • Bottom Gun
  • Olive Drab and the Seven Sweapeas
  • Blinkin Beacon
  • Azteck Wreck
  • The Green Dancin' Shoes
  • Spare Dat Tree
  • The Glad Gladiator
  • The Golden Touch
  • Hamburger Fishing
  • Popeye the Popular Mechanic
  • Popeye's Folly
  • Popeye's Used Car
  • Spinachonara
  • Popeye and the Polite Dragon
  • Popeye the Ugly Ducklin.
  • Popeye's Tea Party
  • The Troll Wot Got Gruff
  • Popeye the Lifeguard
  • Popeye in the Woods
  • After the Ball Went Over
  • Popeye and Buddy Brutus
  • Popeye's Car Wash
  • Camel Aires
  • Plumbers Pipe Dream
  • Popeye and the Herring Snatcher
  • Invisible Popeye
  • The Square Egg
  • Old Salt Tale
  • Jeep Tale
  • The Super Duper Market
  • Golden-Type Fleece
  • Popeye the White Collar Man
  • Sweapea Thru the Looking Glass
  • The Black Knight
  • Jingle Jangle Jungle
  • The Day Silky Went Blozo
  • Rip Van Popeye
  • Mississippi Sissy
  • Double Cross Country Feet Race
  • Fashion Fotography
  • I Yam Wot I Yamnesia
  • Paper Pasting Pandemonium
  • Coach Popeye
  • Popeyed Columbus
  • Popeye Revere
  • Popeye in Haweye
  • Forever Ambergris
  • Popeye De Leon
  • Popeyed Fisherman
  • Popeye in the Grand Steeple Chase
  • Uncivil War
  • Popeye the Piano Mover
  • Popeye's Testimonial Dinner
  • Around the World in Eighty Ways
  • Popeye's Fixit Shop
  • Bell Hop Popeye
  • The Ghost Host
  • Strikes, Spares, an' Spinach
  • Jeep Is Jeep
  • The Spinach Scholar
  • Psychiatricks
  • Rags to Riches to Rags
  • Hair Cut-Ups
  • Poppa Popeye
  • Quick Change Olie
  • The Valley of the Goons
  • Me Quest for Poopdeck Pappy
  • Moby Hick
  • Mirror Magic
  • It Only Hurts When They Laugh
  • Wimpy the Moocher
  • Voo-Doo to You Too
  • Popeye Goes Sale-ing
  • Popeye's Travels
  • Incident at Missile City
  • Dog Catcher Popeye
  • What's News
  • Spinach Greetings
  • The Baby Contest

1961:

  • Oil's Well That Ends Well
  • Motor Knocks
  • Amusement Park
  • Duel to the Finish
  • Gem Jam
  • The Bathing Beasts
  • The Rain Breaker
  • Messin' Up the Mississippi
  • Love Birds
  • Sea Serpent
  • Boardering on Trouble
  • Aladdin's Lamp
  • Butler Up
  • The Leprechaun
  • County Fair
  • Hamburgers Aweigh
  • Popeye's Double Trouble
  • Kiddie Kapers
  • The Mark of Zero
  • Myskery Melody
  • Scairdy Cat
  • Operation Ice-Tickle
  • The Cure
  • William Won't Tell
  • Pop Goes the Whistle
  • Autographically Yours
  • A Poil for Olive Oyl
  • My Fair Olive
  • Giddy Gold
  • Strange Things Are Happening
  • The Medicine Man
  • A Mite of Trouble
  • Who's Kidding Zoo
  • Robot Popeye
  • Sneaking Peeking
  • Seer-ring Is Believer-ring
  • The Wiffle Bird's Revenge
  • Going Going Gone
  • Popeye Thumb
  • The Billionaire
  • Model Muddle
  • Which Is Witch
  • Disguise the Limit
  • Spoil Sport

1961:

  • Oil's Well That Ends Well
  • Motor Knocks
  • Amusement Park
  • Duel to the Finish
  • Gem Jam
  • The Bathing Beasts
  • The Rain Breaker
  • Messin' Up the Mississippi
  • Love Birds
  • Sea Serpent
  • Boardering on Trouble
  • Aladdin's Lamp
  • Butler Up
  • The Leprechaun
  • County Fair
  • Hamburgers Aweigh
  • Popeye's Double Trouble
  • Kiddie Kapers
  • The Mark of Zero
  • Myskery Melody
  • Scairdy Cat
  • Operation Ice-Tickle
  • The Cure
  • William Won't Tell
  • Pop Goes the Whistle
  • Autographically Yours
  • A Poil for Olive Oyl
  • My Fair Olive
  • Giddy Gold
  • Strange Things Are Happening
  • The Medicine Man
  • A Mite of Trouble
  • Who's Kidding Zoo
  • Robot Popeye
  • Sneaking Peeking
  • Seer-ring Is Believer-ring
  • The Wiffle Bird's Revenge
  • Going Going Gone
  • Popeye Thumb
  • The Billionaire
  • Model Muddle
  • Which Is Witch
  • Disguise the Limit
  • Spoil Sport
  • Have Time Will Travel
  • Intellectual Interlude
  • Partial Post
  • Weight for Me

1962:

  • Canine Caprice
  • Roger
  • Tooth Be or Not Tooth Be

1983:

  • Zelig

1985:

  • Hot Resort

1988:

1989:

  • New York Stories: Woody Allen Segment Oedipus Wrecks
  • Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

2016:

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 

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