Mae Questel Helen Kane Contest 1931

Less than two years ago Mae Questel won a Helen Kane contest, and with it a brief vaudeville contract with RKO theaters in New York. Her resemblance to Miss Kane is remarkable, but the blue-eyed, vivacious girl from the Bronx since has proved that it was her talent as a mimic, and not a mere similarity of features and figure, that won first prize in the contest. Recently she inaugurated a series of programs broadcast weekly over an N.B.C network in which she imitates an amazingly large number of stellar stage and studio people. Miss Questel not long ago was re-calling the final trials in the Helen Kane contest. "The man who introduced us seemed to dwell longer on my likeness to Miss Kane than he did on the others, and the audience resented what it felt was partiality to me," she said. "The contest was to be decided on the cheers of the audience, and when I went on I thought that the announcer had killed my chances to win. I guess I was the most surprised person in the theater when I was selected."  While her mother didn't want Mae to go on the stage at first, the young woman's training fits her admirably for theatrical work. She supplemented her public school training at Walton high school in the Bronx with private instruction in elocution and dancing. She never took any singing lessons, but she always was singing popular songs. She does that now. During the war she was one of a group of little tots who appeared in the moving picture theaters when appeal for the Red Cross and Liberty loans were being made between reels. She'd sing and recite little pieces about giving until it hurt. Once she was the star performer at a concert given at the old Waldorf-Astoria hotel. She was 10 years old at the time, and no triumph she may achieve in the future can compare in real thrills with that, she says. Her first stage appearance as a professional was in the Palace theater in New York. Other performers strive a lifetime just to get to the Palace once, but she appeared there immediately after winning the Kane contest.