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Ann Little the 1933 Voice of Betty Boop Is Mad at Mae Questel the Second Voice of Betty Boop Who Voiced Betty in 1931[1]


Ann Rothschild the Original Betty Boop not Mae Questel 1975

Ann Rothschild was the ORIGINAL Betty Boop, and she has a court decision to prove it, but that doesn't stop her irritation when others are given credit for the role. "I'm upset," says Ann. "Some people are beginning to think I'm a fraud."


There she was, this 77-pound, 58-inch, orange haired, blue-eyed ex-cartoon and vaudeville queen, sitting in her apartment here a few weeks ago crying and laughing with the soap opera gangs on television, when the telephone rang and a friend told her he'd heard a lady on the tube the night before claiming to be the ORIGINAL Betty Boop gal. Small balls of fire started to burn in Ann Rothchild's eyes and heart, and although she says she's "absolutely retired from show business," she decided to speak out.

"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 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. "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. Anyway, Mr. Fleischer always said I was the original Betty Boop. He even won a court case over me once."

"Of course, there were other Boop-Boop-a-Doop girls back in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Helen Kane she was one of them. When Mr. Fleischer told her she couldn't use the name Betty Boop in her acts she tried to sue him for a quarter of a million dollars but she lost the case."

"Yes, that was back in 1934. You can look up the case in the New York Supreme Court records."

"Yet, there are still people who think Helen Kane was the original Betty. Just a few weeks ago on Musical Chairs (a CBS program), someone asked a lady on the panel who the original Betty Boop was and the lady said Helen Hayes and she won the prize money."

"Then 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 time - 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 around wisp, wisp, whispering about me. It bothers me. I'm absolutely retired from show business now. I still teach tap (dancing) to one little girl, but that's all. Most of the time 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."

So you look at a copy of a letter by Mike Lacy of Rushville, Inc., who apparently is the president of the National Betty Boop Fan Club, to Tom Snyder which says:

"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 the cartoon star, Betty Boop. It is my belief that this is an iniquity to the original voice of Betty Boop. Mrs. Ann L. Rothschild of Fort Myers, has valid proof of being the first Betty Boop."

"Even though her (Mae Questel) 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."

Mrs. Rothschild came to Fort Myers in 1951 from St. Petersburg, where she operated her own Betty Boop studio for five years. She spent 20 years in show business and another 20 studying and preaching the teachings of the Unity faith. Her show business career started 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. Then of course, came the Betty Boop stint.

The name Betty Boop became a household word from 1933 to 1945 when Betty Boop cartoons and Betty Boop dolls were all the rage. Mrs. Rothschild also starred in movies from Paramount during the 1930s. But in 1945, she gave it all up to run her studio in St. Petersburg. Among her students was Carroll Baker who has since appeared in a number of Hollywood productions.

Then, she enrolled in the Unity Village school in Kansas City, Mo., and kept up correspondence courses. In 1951, she was sent to Fort Myers for on-the-job training. By 1954, she was an ordained minister and at one time hosted a weekly radio program on the  Unity faith.

Back in 1971, she was coaching a dance troupe of over 60 at Seven Lakes condominiums for a variety show. She left the pulpit 15 years ago following her marriage to her second husband, Joe Rothschild, who died six years ago.

Although she's 'absolutely retired,' Ann Rothschild fondly reminisces about her fame as Betty Boop.


Trivia:


There is an inconsistency in Little's story of being the original Betty Boop. Margie Hines was the original Betty Boop and voiced Betty from 1930 to 1932, Mae Questel was the hired in 1931 and shared the role, and she officially took over Hines' role in 1932. Little auditioned in 1932, and wasn't hired to take on the role of Betty Boop until 1933. Little was the official "Betty Boop Impersonator" for Fleischer Studios and voiced Betty in several minor cartoons. In interviews, Little often over-exaggerated her role.


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