Mae Questel, a "ghost" voice in movies for 30 years, suddenly has been "discovered" as a real, live comedy actress. Her film debut came in A Majority of One, and now she's doing the twist with Jerry Lewis in It's Only Money.
There's hope today for those Hollywood "ghosts" wailing in their closets that lack of recognition is turning them into frustrated blobs. The singer who chirped for Natalie Wood in West Side Story and other voice dubbers for stars just have to be patient, that's all.
Mae Questel is proof that "ghosts" can materialize even if they are 5 feet 2, which Mae is, and weight "too much," which May admits. It took her 30 years to break out of her sheet, but as Mae says:"So what? They paid me a fortune for not being myself."
Mae's record in the department of being heard and not seen even beats the legendary chain-rattler bricked-in when they built a castle outside of London. She "starred" in 1,800 movies without even facing a camera, but almost everyone has heard her at one time or another.
Now Mae is being hailed as a comedy discovery with a face as mobile as a key-stone kop strapped to a log headed for a sawmill. She made her movie debut as Rosalind Russell's talkative neighbor, Mrs. Rubin, in A Majority of One, and now she's Jerry Lewis' twist dancing partner in It's Only Money. She is also providing six off-screen voices for the film. For 30 years Mae was the ghost voice of animated film cartoons. She was Betty Boop, and Little Audrey and Olive Oyl, the Sea Hag and even Swee'Pea. When cartoons went to television, Mae went with them and made even more loot in commercials. She's been everything from the voice of a cupcake to that bubbly, bubbly headache remedy.
Before television, she was all over the radio dial, often playing three different characters for Gertrude Berg's Goldbergs. That's how she happened to join Gertrude in Broadway's A Majority of One cast, then doing the movie. Born in the Bronx, she was a Little Miss Mimic at five because, she says: "My mother was a frustrated singer and dialectician."
Then she became Helen Kane's best imitator as Betty Boop in the early 30s. After a long career of being just a voice, she chuckles about becoming a physical actress with Jerry, saying: "I'm using muscles that have been slumbering since I was a baby."