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Mae Questel

Mae Questel

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Also Known As: Died: January 4, 1998
Born: September 13, 1908 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Bronx, New York, USA Profession: actor, voice actor, singer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Petite, with a high-pitched, rounded voice, Mae Questel was the voice behind such cartoon figures as Betty Boop, Olive Oyl and Little Audry. At age 17, the Bronx-born singer-actress won a talent contest mimicking the then-popular baby-voiced entertainer Helen Kane. An agent immediately signed Questel and before long she was appearing on the vaudeville circuit as a singer and impressionist, imitating performers from Fanny Brice to Maurice Chevalier. In 1931, Max Fleischer signed her to provide the vocals for the Kane-inspired cartoon figure Betty Boop. Over an eight year period, Questel provided the sweetly saucy child-like tones for Betty (and the animators incorporated many of Questel's mannerisms) in more than 100 shorts, including "Boop-Oop-a-Doop" (1932), "Snow White" (1933) and the Oscar-nominated "Riding the Rails" (1938). The bob-haired, saucer-eyed Betty Boop became a popular phenomenon, spawning everything from dolls to playing cards to candy to a syndicated comic strip. The provocative character, noted for her short skirts and flirtatious manner, came under fire from women's clubs in the late 1930s. Partly due to that pressure and partly because the series' popularity was waning due to...

Petite, with a high-pitched, rounded voice, Mae Questel was the voice behind such cartoon figures as Betty Boop, Olive Oyl and Little Audry. At age 17, the Bronx-born singer-actress won a talent contest mimicking the then-popular baby-voiced entertainer Helen Kane. An agent immediately signed Questel and before long she was appearing on the vaudeville circuit as a singer and impressionist, imitating performers from Fanny Brice to Maurice Chevalier. In 1931, Max Fleischer signed her to provide the vocals for the Kane-inspired cartoon figure Betty Boop. Over an eight year period, Questel provided the sweetly saucy child-like tones for Betty (and the animators incorporated many of Questel's mannerisms) in more than 100 shorts, including "Boop-Oop-a-Doop" (1932), "Snow White" (1933) and the Oscar-nominated "Riding the Rails" (1938). The bob-haired, saucer-eyed Betty Boop became a popular phenomenon, spawning everything from dolls to playing cards to candy to a syndicated comic strip. The provocative character, noted for her short skirts and flirtatious manner, came under fire from women's clubs in the late 1930s. Partly due to that pressure and partly because the series' popularity was waning due to changing tastes, Fleischer ended the Betty Boop shorts in 1939 with "Yip, Yip Yippy!". Beginning in 1933, Fleischer had also tapped Questel to lend her talents to the character of Olive Oyl in the Popeye cartoons, more than 450 of which were produced. (In the series, Questel also gave voice to Swee'pea.) During her long career as a voice actor, she also lent her distinctive abilities to such cartoon figures as Winky Dink, Little Audry and Casper, the Friendly Ghost.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 New York Stories (1989) Mother ("Oedipus Wrecks")
2.
3.
 Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) Voice Of Betty Boop
4.
 Hot Resort (1985) Mrs Labowitz
5.
 Move (1970) Mrs. Katz
6.
 Funny Girl (1968) Mrs. Strakosh
7.
 A Majority of One (1962) Mrs. Rubin
8.
 It's Only Money (1962) Cecilia Albright
10.
 Winky Dink and You (1969) Voice Of Winky Dink
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Born and raised in NYC
1925:
Won singing contest at the RKO Fordham Theatre as the girl who sounded most like the popular singer Helen Kane (date approximate)
:
Signed by an agent and began performing in vaudeville, singing and doing vocal impersonations of Fannie Brice, Marlene Dietrich and Maurice Chevalier
1930:
Played the Palace Theatre
1931:
First voiced the animated character Betty Boop
1932:
Performed on the radio show "Betty Boop's Frolics"
1933:
Began voicing the character of Olive Oyl in the Popeye cartoons
1939:
Final Boop cartoon "Yip, Yip Yippy!"
1946:
Provided the voice of "Little Audry" for the radio series
1948:
Was a panelist on the audience participation program "Stop Me If You Heard This One" (NBC)
:
Voiced the title character in the animated TV series "Winky Dink and You"
1959:
Created the role of Mrs Rubin onstage in "A Majority of One"
1961:
Reprised her stage role in the film version of "A Majority of One"
:
Voiced Casper, the Friendly Ghost and Little Audry
1968:
Had featured role in the film version of "Funny Girl"
:
Was commercial spokeswoman for Playtex and Folger's Coffee
:
Played Aunt Bluebell, the commercial spokeswoman for Scott Paper Company
1973:
Featured on the short-lived sitcom "The Corner Bar" (ABC)
1973:
Reprised Betty Boop for a syndicated cartoon series
:
Appeared on the NBC daytime drama "Somerset"
1988:
Voiced Betty Boop in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit"
1983:
Sang the song "Chamelon Days" on the soundtrack to Woody Allen's film "Zelig"
1989:
Cast as Woody Allen's mother in the "Oedipus Wrecks" segment of "New York Stories"
1989:
Final feature, "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Morris High School: New York , New York -
Columbia University: New York , New York -
Theatre Guild: New York , New York -
American Theatre Wing: New York , New York -

Notes

Questel's recording of "On the Good Ship Lollipop" as sung by Betty Boop sold more than two million copies in the 1930s.

She reportedly once told an interviewer that the voice of Olive Oyl was an attempt to imitate the actress ZaSu Pitts.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Leo Balkin. Married on December 22, 1930; divorced.
husband:
Jack E Shelby. Second husband; married on November 19, 1970.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Simon Questel.
mother:
Freida Questel.
son:
Richard Balkin. Survived her.
son:
Robert Balkin. Deceased.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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