Mae Questel Biography (1908-1998)
Born September 13, 1908, in the Bronx, NY; died after suffering from Alzheimer's disease, January 4, 1998, in New York, NY. Actress.
Despite the range of acting work that Questel performed during her prolific career, she will be best remembered for her work behind the camera as the voice of cartoon characters Betty Boop and Olive Oyl. She began her career at theage of seventeen after winning a look-alike contest. The singing star that Questel resembled, Helen Kane, was known as the "boop-oop-a-doop queen." Questel landed work in vaudeville productions at the Palace Theatre and then on the RKO theater circuit. She displayed great range in her abilities to imitatepopular celebrities of that era, such as Rudy Vallee, Maurice Chevalier, Marlene Dietrich, and Kane. In the early 1930s she was hired as the new voice ofBetty Boop in cartoons. She also performed as Boop in the radio show BettyBoop's Frolics in 1932. As Betty Boop, Questel recorded "On the Good Ship Lollipop" with the famous closing "boop" line; the song proved popular withlisteners as more than two million copies were sold. In all, Questel's initial work as Boop lasted until 1939 and included 150 cartoons. Later, she wouldbe asked to reprise the role in the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? She found further voice work in the Popeye cartoons as the voice ofthe title character's girlfriend, Olive Oyl, as well as baby Sweet Pea. From1933 to 1947, Questel's voice was featured in some 450 episodes. Other voicework included Casper, the friendly ghost. In 1948 she began appearing in stage roles, including Dr. Social. Later theater roles included performances in Come Blow Your Horn, Walk Like a Lion, and Where HaveYou Been, Billy Boy? In 1990 she appeared in Betty Boop-60 Years in New York City. Her career also included films such as A Majority of One, Funny Girl, and Move. She sang the Betty Boop theme song in Woody Allen's Zelig in 1983, then appeared as Allen's mother in hisNew York Stories in 1989. On television, Questel appeared in soap operas such as Somerset and All My Children. She also became a familiar face in commercials for products like Folger's Coffee, Playtex, and Scott Paper Towels (as Aunt Bluebell). Her work in entertainment earned her various honors, including the Troupers Award for outstanding contributions.
- Birth Details
- September 13, 1908
- Bronx, New York, United States
- Death Details
- January 8, 1998
- New York, New York, United States
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES
- 1997Who's Who in America, Marquis.
- Chicago Tribune, January 11, 1998, section 4, p. 7.
- Los Angeles Times, January 9, 1998, p. A22.