Mae Questel was the first choice to voice Olive Oyl
She's also voiced another one of your favorite cartoons.
Enough about Popeye, let’s have three cheers and a can of spinach for sweet Olive Oyl. Without her, Popeye would never have a damsel to save and thus, we viewers wouldn’t have some of our favorite cartoons.
According to Popeye: An Illustrated Cultural History by Fred Grandinetti, there wasn’t a terrible need to sift through dozens of voice actors' auditions hoping for the role of Olive Oyl. Max Fleischer, who helped bring Popeye from the comic strip to the big screen, already had someone in mind to voice the character of Olive Oyl: Mae Questel.
This wasn’t Questel’s first rodeo in the cartoon world; You might be more familiar with her voice acting as Betty Boop. In fact, a Betty Boop cartoon is where Popeye would make his first appearance, so she was already familiar with the material. The book remembered Questel’s explanation of how she began to realize what exactly Olive Oyl would sound like, a process that began with examining early Popeye storyboards.
Questel stated, “I thought there is an actress that sort of reminds me of a scrawny lady that’s always using her hands and I thought, that should sound like Olive Oyl and it was a crackly kind of voice: Yoo-hooooo! Here I yamaamm-hm-hm-hm-hm!”
She continued, “Max seemed to like the voice and we used it!”
Questel wasn’t always the voice of Olive Oyl, but she has been the most consistent. For example, Questel paused voicing the character when the studio made the move to Miami and the voice actor couldn’t make the trip. However, once the studio returned to New York, Questel was right back in that vocal booth, Yoo-hoo-ing it up!
So not only do we get to enjoy the tremendous vocal stylings of Mae Questel as sweet Betty Boop, but now you can know that she had a big hand in bringing your other favorite cartoon character to life, Olive Oyl.