June Foray (1917-2017)

June Foray in 2013.

June Foray, Hollywood’s best-known female voice talent, died July 27 at the age of 99. She was best known as the voice of Rocky in Rocky and Bullwinkle (1959-1964), a role she reprised as recently as 2014 in a DreamWorks Animation short.

According to the report in Variety:

Foray was born June Lucille Forer in Springfield, Mass., and she was doing vocal work in local radio dramas by the time she was 12. She continued working in radio after her family moved to Los Angeles after she graduated from high school, following her dream of becoming an actress. She even had her own “Lady Make Believe” radio show that showcased her vocal talents, and she appeared regularly on network shows such as “Lux Radio Theater” and “The Jimmy Durante Show.”

She worked with Stan Freberg and Daws Butler on several comedy records, including the 1953 Dragnet parody ”St. George and the Dragonet”. Later she was a regular cast member of The Stan Freberg Show on CBS Radio.

Daws Butler, June Foray and Stan Freberg

She was the voice of Mattel Toys’ Chatty Cathy, and its Twilight Zone nemesis ”Talky Tina” (in the 1963 episode “A Living Doll”).

She also voiced Cindy Lou Who in Chuck Jones’ 1966 adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Mark Evanier said in his fine appreciation:

A few years ago when Earl Kress and I assisted her with her autobiography, we foolishly thought we could whip up a near-complete list of everything she’d done. Not in this world possible. I know more of June’s credits than most people and I’d be surprised if I know 10% of it.

So many she couldn’t possibly remember them all, though this shook up fan Dwight Decker when he had a chance at a San Diego Comic-Con to ask about her role as The Librarian in a Little Nemo movie and she answered that she’d never heard of the project. (She’s in the film credits.)

She was one of the earliest members of the Hollywood chapter of Association Internationale du Film d’Animation, and she created the Annie Awards, presented by ASIFA-Hollywood. The Annies created a juried award named for Foray in 1995 that honors individuals who have made significant or benevolent contributions to the art and industry of animation, and she was its first recipient.

Foray received a Daytime Emmy in 2012 for her performance as Mrs. Cauldron on Cartoon Network’s The Garfield Show. And in 2013 she was presented with an honorary Emmy by the Governors of the Academy of Television Arts & Science.

She was a panelist at LASFS’ annual Loscon in 2009.

A documentary about her life, “The One and Only June Foray,” was produced in 2013. Here is the trailer:

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10 thoughts on “June Foray (1917-2017)

  1. Losing June Foray hits hard, although at the age of 99 it’s not unexpected. (She just seemed liked she’d go on forever.)

    I’ve been enjoying her work all my life, and I’m 65.

  2. What a great talent!

    Thanks for the link to St. George and the Dragonet. That was VERY funny!

  3. She’s been a hoot every time she showed up on panels at LosCon (yes, in her 90s), and walking in and hearing her do the voices — the real voices! — was electrifying. Truly, she was among the best and smartest things in ’60s American culture, along with Theodore J. Flicker’s ‘The President’s Analyst’ and Tom Lehrer’s songs. May her memory be a blessing, and I’ll think of her fondly always.

    (ETA: And Stan Freberg! And Doctor Strangelove!)

  4. She was the best, and remained so till the end.

    I thought she’d live forever too, but that trick never works. At least we have a lot of great work to remember her by.

  5. One of the talking heads in the trailer has what he intends as a tribute, calling her “the female Mel Blanc”. From the little I know, she made Mel Blanc look limited. (There may be a Filer who doesn’t know that she also played Natasha in addition to Rocky.) And I also thank OGH for the Freberg recording; I haven’t heard nearly enough of his work.

  6. “June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc. Mel Blanc is the male June Foray.” — Chuck Jones. (And he would know.)

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