Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Late Great June Foray

June Foray, the legendary voice artist who provided the voice for such characters as Rocky J. Squirrel in the Rocky and Bullwinkle franchise, both Granny (originally voiced by Bea Benaderet) and Witch Hazel (also originally voiced by Bea Benaderet) and many other characters in Warner Bros. cartoons, the cat Lucifer in the Disney classic Cinderella, and many other cartoon characters, died yesterday at the age of 99.

June Foray was born June Lucille Forer on September 18 1917 in Springfield, Massachusetts. She made her radio debut in Springfield when she was only 12 years old. By the time that she was 15 years old she was regularly doing voice work in radio. Her family moved to Los Angeles two years after Miss Foray graduated from high school. It was not long before she had her own radio show, Lady Make Believe, which she not only hosted, but also wrote as well. June Foray worked extensively in radio. From 1944 to 1952 she provided the voices for Midnight the Cat and Old Grannie on The Buster Brown Program. From 1945 to 1947 she provided various voices for Smile Time. She was also regularly provided voices for The Jimmy Durante Show, CBS Radio Workshop, and The Stan Freberg Show. Her career in radio would continue after the age of Old Time Radio ended. She guest starred on Sears Radio Theatre in 1979 and then Adventures in Odyssey in 2007.

June Foray made her film debut in the Walter Lantz animated short "The Egg Cracker Suite' as the voice of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in 1943. She first worked for Warner Bros. on the short "The Unbearable Bear", providing various voices. She was also the voice of a cigarette girl in Tex Avery's classic MGM short "Red Hot Riding Hood" (1943). In addition to various shorts in the late Forties, Miss Foray also provided the voice of Lucifer the cat in the classic Disney film Cinderella (1950).

It was in the late Fifties that June Foray first provided the voice for Rocket J. Squirrel, better known simply as "Rocky". In 1959 the Jay Ward Productions TV show Rocky and His Friends debuted on ABC. It ran on ABC until 1961, whereupon it moved to NBC and was retitled The Bullwinkle Show. On NBC it ran for a single season in primetime before being moved elsewhere on the schedule. NBC cancelled the show in 1964, but it ran in reruns on various networks until 1973. June Foray would voice Rocky in various revivals of Rocky and Bullwinkle, as well as TV commercials and the 2000 feature The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. In addition to Rocky, June Foray also voiced Rocky and Bullwinkle's archenemy Natasha Fatale on the show, as well as Nell Fenwick in the Dudley Do-Right segments.

In addition to her work on Rocky and Bullwinkle, June Foray did other work on television in the Fifties. She provided voices for the animated series as The Woody Woodpecker Show, The Huckleberry Hound Show, and Mister Magoo. She also provided incidental voices for live action shows, including that of a dog on I Love Lucy, an operator on Father Knows Best, an operator on The Jack Benny Program, and the voice of a dummy on Johnny Staccato, as well a voice for Rawhide.  Miss Foray also made a rare appearance in front of the camera on television in the Fifties, appearing on The Ray Milland Show: Meet Mr. McNulty. As might expected, June Foray continued to provide voices for theatrical animated shorts. She first voiced Granny in the Bugs Bunny short "This is a Life" (1955). She first voiced Waner Bros.' Witch Hazel in the Bugs Bunny short "Broom-Stick Bunny" (1956).  In addition to her work with Warner Bros., she also provided voices for shorts produced by MGM, Walt Disney Productions, Walter Lantz, and  Hanna-Barbera Productions. Miss Foray also provided voices for animated features, including Disney's Peter Pan (1953) and the English dub of The Snow Queen (1955). She made a rare live action appearance in the feature film Sabaka (1954). She also provided incidental voices for live-action feature films, including Susan Slept Here (1954) and It's Always Fair Weather (1955).

In the Sixties June Foray continued to provide the voice of Rocky J. Squirrel. She also provided voices for other animated TV shows, including The Alvin Show, Calvin and the Colonel, George of the Jungle, Off to See the Wizard, Here Comes the Grump, and The Pink Panther Show. She provided voices for the Beetle Bailey and Krazy Kat television animated shorts. She also provided incidental voices for live action TV shows, the most famous perhaps being Talky Tina in the Twilight Zone episode "Living Doll". She also provided voices for such live action shows as The Red Skelton Show, Gilligan's Island, 12 O' Clock High, Bewitched, It's About Time, Lost in Space, The Brady Bunch, and Get Smart. She made a rare live action appearance on Green Acres. She provided the voice of Cindy Lou Who in the classic TV special How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the Rankin/Bass special Mouse on the Mayflower, Frosty the Snowman, and The Pogo Special Birthday Special. She continued to provide voices for theatrical animated shorts, as well as voices for the animated feature The Phantom Tollbooth (1970).

In the Seventies June Foray provided voices for the children's show The Curiosity Shop and the animated shows These Are the Days, The Pink Panther Laugh and a Half Hour and a Half Show, and Heathcliff. She provided voices for several TV specials, including The Thanksgiving That Almost Wasn't, The Cricket in Times Square, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, and Mowgli's Brothers. She continued to provide voices for animated shorts.

 In the Eighties June Foray regularly provided voices for various Saturday morning cartoons. She was the voice of Aunt May on Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, the voice of Jokey Smurf on The Smurfs, Grandma on Teen Wolf, Grandma Cavemom on The Flintstone Kids, and both Ma Beagle and Magica De Spell on DuckTales. She provided additional voices on such cartoons as The Incredible Hulk, Saturday Supercade, and Alvin & the Chipmunks. Miss Foray was a guest voice on The Simpsons. She also provided voices for animated television specials, including Faeries, Happily Ever After, and others. June Foray made a live action appearance as herself on the sitcom The Duck Factory. She continued to work in movie shorts, and provided voices for the feature film Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988).

In the Nineties Miss Foray again worked on several animated television cartoons. She was the voice of Grammi Gummi on The Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Granny on Tiny Toon Adventures, Martha Wilson on The All-New Dennis the Menace, and Granny on The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries. She provided additional voices for yet other television cartoons. She also provided voices on episodes of the live action sitcoms Married...With Children and Weird Science. She provided voices for the feature films Thumbelina (1994), Space Jam (1996), Mulan (1998), and The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (2000). She also continued to provide voices for animated shorts.

In the Naughts June Foray provided the voice of Granny on the animated series Baby Looney Tunes. She made a voice cameo as Rocky on Family Guy. She was also a guest voice on such animated shows as The Powerpuff Girls, Duck Dodgers, and The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack. She was the voice of Granny in Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003), Grandmother Fa in Mulan II (2004), and Mama Sasquatch in The Legend of Sasquatch (2006). She continued to provide voices for animated shorts.

In the Teens Miss Foray was the voice of Granny on The Looney Tunes Show. She was a guest voice on The Garfield Show. She continued to do voices for animated shorts. Fittingly, her last credit was as Rocky in the animated short "Rocky and Bullwinkle" (2014).

June Foray also provided voices for video games related to Warner Bros. cartoons and DuckTales, as well as the video game Lego Island. In the 1940s she recorded children's records for Capitol Records and in the Fifties she recorded comedy records with fellow voice artist Stan Freberg.  Miss Foray was also the original voice of Mattel's highly popular talking doll Chatty Cathy in the Sixties.

In additional to being the industry's foremost female voice artist, June Foray was one of animation's biggest champions. She was an early member of ASIFA-Hollywood (a branch of Association Internationale du Film d'Animation or the International Animated Film Association). As part of ASIFA-Hollywood, Miss Foray founded the Annie Awards, annual American awards for accomplishments in animation. She was also instrumental in the creation of an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

Legendary animator Chuck Jones once said, , "June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc, Mel Blanc was the male June Foray." Mr. Jones's quote shows just how good Miss Foray was as a voice artist. If she was not the greatest voice artist of all time, then she certainly numbered among them. Over the years she certainly voiced a wide variety of voices. She could do "little girl" voices, as she did with Talky Tina in the Twilight Zone episode "Living Doll" and Cindy Lou Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. She could also do old lady voices, the most famous of which was Granny in Warner Bros.' "Sylvester and Tweety" shorts. Miss Foray could even do the voices of young males. In fact, what may be her most famous character was male, Rocket J. Squirrel in the "Rocky and Bullwinkle" franchise. Over the years June Foray provided voices for an amazing array of characters, from Warner Bros.' Witch Hazel to Jokey Smurf.

Of course, June Foray wasn't simply a great voice artist. She was also one of animation's foremost champions. As noted above, she was one of ASIFA-Hollywood's earliest members and it was she who came up with the idea for the Annie Awards. As might be expected, June Foray had a legion of fans, some of them quite famous. When movie critic Leonard Maltin attended the 2007 Oscar nominees luncheon, he asked legendary director Martin Scorsese whom he was most excited to meet. Mr. Scorsese's response was "June Foray." Those fans who were fortunate enough to meet June Foray always came away with fond memories of her. Fans who met her always said the same things about her. She was a woman of class, a true lady, and one of the nicest people one could ever meet. Miss Foray leaves behind a legacy in animation that might never be matched. What is more, she was a truly great lady.

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