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Thursday, December 15, 2005

QUESTEL, Mae

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Birth/Death

Birth: September 13, 1908
Death: January 4, 1998


Occupation/Title

Voice Artist, Actress
Veteran of stage, screen, and vaudeville


Bio Summary

Born Mae Kwestel in the Bronx, Questel won a contest when she was 17, and immediately signed on to do vaudeville. Animator Max Fleischer saw one of her many imitation performances of Rudy Vallee, Maurice Chevalier, and Marlene Dietrich, while he was looking for an actress to portray the voice of Betty Boop. The voice Mae used was modeled after a previous actress named Helen Kane, who started a "boop-boop-a-doop" rendition of the hit song "I Wanna Be Loved by You" on Broadway in 1928.

She is survived by three granddaughters and a son.


Early Life/Family

Before her career in vaudeville, Mae Questel performed in community and charity functions. Her parents did not approve of her profession because they didn't believe it was apropriate for a respectable girl. Professional opportunities were turned down by her grandparents and parents. She was a teacher at the time her friends had entered her into a Helen Kane impersonation contest. She had won because she had watched Kane's act before the contest began and emulated her voice better than anyone else.


Education/Training

Experience in New York career stage, radio, commercials, and cartoons.


Career Outline

She was a teacher before her vaudeville career, then became a film actress. She was soon hired by Max Fleischer to play the voice of Betty Boop. She stayed on and worked for Fleischer for 8 years (1930-1939) and starred in more than 150 cartoon shorts. In the "Popeye" cartoons, she created the voices of Olive Oyl and Sweet Pea in 1933.

In 1939, Betty Boop the character was retired, but in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" in 1988, Questel returned as the voice of Betty Boop. Some of her Broadway plays were "Dr. Social" in 1948 and "Enter Laughing" in 1963.


Comments On Style

Mae Questel had the wonderful ability to ad-lib and sing beautifully. Mae could voice both male and female characters, such as Pudgy and Olive Oyl. Her role as Betty Boop immortalized her. Her authenticity of her voice in her roles was strengthened because she remained living in the East.


Influences

Helen Kane, the Broadway actress, whom Mae Questel impersonated, along with other celebrities such as Eddie Cantor, Ruth Etting and Maurice Chevalier.


Personality

She was a natural "ham" and enjoyed performing and show business. She had a sparkling personality and her voice was clear and direct. She was happy to sign autographs with fans, was smart, and was especially adept at ad-libbing.


Anecdotes

She made a recording "On the Good Ship Lollipop" that was so popular that it sold 2 million copies.

Her Olive Oyl, originally styled after Zasu Pitts, ultimately became very "Aunt Bluebell."

Helen Kane sued Max Fleischer over the theft of her persona for his Betty Boop series. Mae Questel, along with many other witnesses, were sent by Fleischer to claim that Betty Boop was not based on Helen's character.

From 1950 through 1960 she could be heard as the Hasbro Kid, Nabisco's Buffalo Bee, the talking Fizzies Tablet, and Winky Dink.

She did commercial work as Aunt Bluebell on the Scott paper towel ads.

In one unforgettable installment of Paramount's Hollywood on Parade one-reel series, Questel, dressed as Betty Boop, was "attacked" by Bela Lugosi, who leaned menacingly toward her neck and declared "You have booped... your last... boooooop."

She played the voice of Popeye, when the original actor, Jack Mercer, went to war in the 1940s.


Miscellaneous

Mae Questel's most natural voices were very Jewish and maternal. Thus, her acting roles felt very real.

Her portrayals were very genuinine and filled with energy.

Helen Kane made a $250,000 suit against Max Fleischer, creator of Betty Boop animated cartoons. She contended that Betty Boop was based on her personality and singing style. A jury ruled against Kane.

Before her career with Max Fleischer, she developed an act she called "Mae Questel - Personality Singer of Personality Songs."


Filmography

Bubbles (1930) (uncredited) .... Mother in Checkered Dress
Dizzy Dishes (1930) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Barnacle Bill (1930) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Mysterious Mose (1930) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Silly Scandals (1931) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Bimbo's Initiation (1931) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Bimbo's Express (1931) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Kitty from Kansas City (1931) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Mask-A-Raid (1931) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Jack and the Beanstalk (1931) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Dizzy Red Riding Hood (1931) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Musical Justice (1931) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Any Rags (1932) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Boop-Oop-A-Doop (1932) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie (1932) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Swim or Sink (1932) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Minnie the Moocher (1932) (voice) (uncredited) .... Betty Boop
S.O.S. (1932) (voice) .... Betty Boop
One Hour with You (1932) (uncredited) .... Office Worker
Crazy Town (1932) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Just One More Chance (1932) (voice) .... Betty Boop
The Dancing Fool (1932) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Chess-Nuts (1932) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning (1932) (voice) .... Betty Boop
A Hunting We Will Go (1932) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Let Me Call You Sweetheart (1932) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Admission Free (1932) (voice) .... Betty Boop
The Betty Boop Limited (1932) (voice) .... Betty Boop
You Try Somebody Else (1932) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Rudy Vallee Melodies (1932) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Stopping the Show (1932) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Betty Boop's Bizzy Bee (1932) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Betty Boop, M.D. (1932) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Just a Gigolo (1932) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Betty Boop's Bamboo Isle (1932) (voice) .... Betty boop
Betty Boop's Ups and Downs (1932) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Romantic Melodies (1932) (voice) .... Betty Boop
The Musical Doctor (1932)
Betty Boop for President (1932) (voice) .... Betty Boop
I'll Be Glad When You're Dead You Rascal You (1932) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Betty Boop's Museum (1932) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Time on My Hands (1932) (voice) .... Mermaid (Betty Boop)
Betty Boop's Ker-Choo (1933) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Betty Boop's Crazy Inventions (1933) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Is My Palm Read (1933) (voice) (uncredited) .... Betty Boop
... aka Professor Bimbo (USA: alternative title)
Betty Boop's Penthouse (1933) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Snow-White (1933) (voice) (uncredited) .... Betty Boop
Popular Melodies (1933) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Betty Boop's Birthday Party (1933) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Betty Boop's May Party (1933) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Betty Boop's Big Boss (1933) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Mother Goose Land (1933) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Popeye the Sailor (1933) (voice) (uncredited) .... Betty Boop/Olive Oyl
... aka Popeye the Sailor with Betty Boop (USA)
The Old Man of the Mountain (1933) (voice) .... Betty Boop
I Heard (1933) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Morning, Noon and Night (1933) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Blow Me Down! (1933) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
Betty Boop's Halloween Party (1933) (voice) .... Betty Boop
I Eats My Spinach (1933) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
Parade of the Wooden Soldiers (1933) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Seasin's Greetinks! (1933) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
Wild Elephinks (1933) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
She Wronged Him Right (1934) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Sock-a-Bye, Baby (1934) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
Red Hot Mama (1934) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Ha! Ha! Ha! (1934) (voice) .... Betty Boop
The Man on the Flying Trapeze (1934) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
Betty in Blunderland (1934) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Can You Take It (1934) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
Betty Boop's Rise to Fame (1934) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Betty Boop's Trial (1934) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Strong to the Finich (1934) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
Betty Boop's Life Guard (1934) (voice) .... Betty Boop
... aka The Lifeguard
Shiver Me Timbers! (1934) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
Poor Cinderella (1934) (voice) .... Betty Boop
There's Something About a Soldier (1934) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Axe Me Another (1934) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
Betty Boop's Little Pal (1934) (voice) .... Betty Boop
A Dream Walking (1934) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
The Two-Alarm Fire (1934) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
Keep in Style (1934) (voice) .... Betty Boop
The Dance Contest (1934) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
When My Ship Comes In (1934) (voice) .... Betty Boop
We Aim to Please (1934) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
Baby Be Good (1935) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Beware of Barnacle Bill (1935) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
Taking the Blame (1935) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Be Kind to 'Aminals' (1935) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
Stop That Noise (1935) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Pleased to Meet Cha! (1935) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
Swat the Fly (1935) (voice) .... Betty Boop
The 'Hyp-Nut-Tist' (1935) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
The Kids in the Shoe (1935) (voice) (uncredited) .... Woman in the shoe, kids
No! No! A Thousand Times No!! (1935) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Choose Your 'Weppins' (1935) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
A Little Soap and Water (1935) (voice) .... Betty Boop
For Better or Worser (1935) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
A Language All My Own (1935) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Dizzy Divers (1935) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
You Gotta Be a Football Hero (1935) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
Judge for a Day (1935) (voice) .... Betty Boop
King of the Mardi Gras (1935) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
Making Stars (1935) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Adventures of Popeye (1935) (voice) (uncredited) .... Olive Oyl
The Spinach Overture (1935) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
Betty Boop with Henry the Funniest Living American (1935) (voice) (uncredited) .... Betty Boop
Vim, Vigor and Vitaliky (1936) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
Little Nobody (1936) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Betty Boop and the Little King (1936) (voice) .... Betty Boop
A Clean Shaven Man (1936) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
Not Now (1936) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Brotherly Love (1936) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
Betty Boop and Little Jimmy (1936) (voice) .... Betty Boop
I-Ski Love-Ski You-Ski (1936) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
We Did It (1936) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Bridge Ahoy! (1936) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
A Song a Day (1936) (voice) .... Betty Boop
More Pep (1936) (voice) .... Betty Boop
I Wanna Be a Life Guard (1936) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
You're Not Built That Way (1936) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Let's Get Movin' (1936) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
Happy You and Merry Me (1936) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Never Kick a Woman (1936) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
Training Pigeons (1936) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Popeye the Sailor with Little Swee' Pea (1936) (voice) (uncredited) .... Olive Oyl
... aka Li'l Swee' Pea (USA: reissue title)
... aka Little Swee' Pea (USA: short title)
Grampy's Indoor Outing (1936) (voice) .... Betty Boop
Hold the Wire (1936) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
Be Human (1936) (voice) .... Betty Boop
The Spinach Roadster (1936) (voice) .... Olive Oyl
Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor (1936) (voice) (uncredited) .... Olive Oyl
Making Friends (1936) (voice) .... Betty Boop
I'm in the Army Now (1936) (voice) (uncredited) .... Olive Oyl
House Cleaning Blues (1937) (voice) .... Betty Boop


Honors

Annie Award: Winsor McCay Award 1979


Related Links

A-HAA: Filmography: Betty Boop in Snow White


Bibliographic References

"Mae Questel, voice of Betty Boop and Olive Oyl, dies" - Obituary from The Houston Chronicle via the Associated Press 1998
Mae Questel:A Reminiscence, History and Perspective by Andrew J. Lederer
Filmography on the New York times - Mae Questrel Profile
Imdb listing of Mae Questel
BIO-AAA-513

Contributors To This Listing

Richard Chow


To make additions or corrections to this listing, please click on COMMENTS below...

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3 Comments:

At 7:15 PM, Blogger dwestburg said...

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At 9:25 AM, Anonymous Richard Chow said...

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At 3:38 AM, Blogger Jody said...

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