Actress Mae Questel Dies: Lent Voice to Betty Boop
Associated Press Friday, January 9, 1998;
Mae Questel, 89, the stage, screen and vaudeville actress who was the childlike voice of cartoon characters Betty Boop and Olive Oyl, died at her New York home Jan. 4. She had Alzheimer's disease.
Ms. Questel played Woody Allen's intrusive, omnipresent mother in the "Oedipus Wrecks" segment of the film "New York Stories." She disappears at a magic show, only to appear as a giant looming figure in the clouds over Manhattan -- still badgering her son and discussing his personal life with the public.
She also appeared in the film version of "Funny Girl" in 1968 and in "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" in 1989. During the 1960s and 1970s, the squeaky-voiced actress appeared in paper towel television commercials as the character Aunt Bluebell.
Ms. Questel, a Bronx, N.Y., native, was discovered at 17 when she was signed to perform on the vaudeville circuit. She did imitations of popular performers such as Maurice Chevalier, Marlene Dietrich and Rudy Vallee.
After animator Max Fleischer heard one of Ms. Questel's performances, he signed her to take over the voice of Betty Boop. The sound was actually modeled on the voice of another actress, Helen Kane, who created a sensation on Broadway in 1928 with a "boop-boop-a-doop" rendition of the hit song "I Wanna Be Loved by You."
During her eight years as the voice of Betty Boop, Ms. Questel was in more than 150 cartoon shorts. Her recording of "On the Good Ship Lollipop" -- in Betty Boop's voice -- sold more than 2 million copies.
The Betty Boop character was retired in 1939, but Ms. Questel returned to the character when Betty appeared in the 1988 movie "Who Framed Roger Rabbit."
Ms. Questel also created the voices of Olive Oyl and Sweet Pea for the "Popeye" cartoons, starting in 1933 and continuing through hundreds of episodes until 1967. She also filled in from time to time as the voice of another cartoon character, Casper, the friendly ghost.
Among her Broadway plays were "Dr. Social" in 1948, "A Majority of One" in 1959 and "Enter Laughing" in 1963.
Survivors include a son and three granddaughters. The above obitiuary was taken from the Washington Post on January 9th, 1998.
Back to Mae's filmography from the Internet Movie Database