Friday, July 28, 2017

June Foray, 1917-2017, R.I.P.


I'm absolutely sick at the news that the amazing and iconic voice-over actress June Foray died on Wednesday. She was ninety-nine years old and would have turned one hundred if she'd only lived until September 18th.

I'm going to keep this tribute relatively brief and aim it at those who really care about and perhaps know the history of animation (although her work included one hell of a lot more than just cartoon voices). That way I won't fill this page with tons and tons of information.

My first exposure to her work was probably when she was portraying characters on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show like Rocket J. Squirrel, Natasha Fatale, and Nell Fenwick (as well as others). She also did multiple voices on Jay Ward's syndicated silent movie spoof program, Fractured Flickers, and voiced Ursula on another Ward production, George of the Jungle.

It wasn't until years later, as I learned more and more about showbiz history in general, that I became aware that she'd worked for many, many employers in her time, and had done the voices of characters like Cindy Lou Who (in How the Grinch stole Christmas) Granny (owner of Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird), Witch Hazel, Woody Woodpecker's nephew and niece Knothead and Splinter, Jokey Smurf, and talking doll Chatty Cathy. (She even did a take-off on Chatty Cathy called "Talky Tina" on a Twilight Zone episode.)

Among hundreds (thousands?) of others, Ms. Foray, whose autobiography was oh-so-appropriately entitled Did You Grow Up With Me, Too? -- The Autobiography of June Foray, had so many credits that it is literally impossible to list more than a small percentage of them... although people have tried. Her Wikipedia entry, for example, lists dozens of credits, but it's only a partial list.

An obituary with some great photos may be found here, and a tribute post by her friend (and one of the two co-authors of her autobiography), Mark Evanier, may be found here.

I was actually surprised that when I did an image search for photos of Ms. Foray, there were so many of the woman herself. I'd really expected more images of the characters she voiced during her career, which began in her adolescence.

With famed cartoon director Chuck Jones -- lousy shot of him -- and the prolific Mel Blanc.




This is obviously not June Foray. It's Talky Tina from the Twilight Zone episode "Living Doll."


With two more industry legends, Daws Butler and Stan Freberg.

June rarely appeared on-camera, but here's one of the few times she did, from 1955's Sabaka!

Animation director Chuck Jones said it best: "June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc. Mel Blanc is the male June Foray." As much as I respect Mel Blanc and his huge body of work, I can't help but agree.

Thanks for your time.

22 comments:

  1. Neat how she did a creepy doll version for Twilight Zone. Sure heard many a character that she worked on.

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    1. It's safe to say that, with her radio roles, cartoon voices, movie dubbings, etc., etc., etc., it would be impossible for anyone not to have encountered her work, whether knowingly or unknowingly.

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  2. It just shows how much these people need to be cherished and talked about like you did. I love Granny!! Rocky and Natasha are also great and she was just so prolific. Great tribute and she was a real looker too.

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    1. I'm glad there are so many photos of June out there!

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  3. And June fought for the rights of her fellow voice actors, too. She is credited with the establishment of the Annie Awards, as well as instrumental to the creation of the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2001.

    Thinking of others is something we could learn from June. Thanks for visiting my own form of tribute to her on my blog. :-)

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    1. Right. I didn't even attempt to list more than a few of the things she did in her eighty-five year career!

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  4. what sad she died.what amazing is the animation world especially about voices !

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  5. The great thing about blogging - the thing that Facebook, Twitter and the like can never come close to - is its ability to introduce you to subjects you wouldn't normally investigate. It opens doors to areas I would never normally enter. Who would have thought that I would read - with enjoyment and fascination - about an American voice-over artist. But I did.

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    1. So glad you enjoyed my little tribute, which admittedly left out so very much about this remarkable woman! And it's so good to have you visiting again, Alan!

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  6. I don't know what to say except that she sure was a legend, the real deal. It saddens me to hear she's no longer among us.

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  7. This is an incredible tribute to an over-the-top talented woman. I LOVED her many voices, and can't even choose a favorite. But I laughed aloud when I realized she was the voice of Nell Fenwick . . . one of my favorite Dudley Do Right episodes had her singing like a horribly untalented opera star, and Dudley was so enamored that he was singing along to encourage her—but she was singing a long "aaahhhhh" and he was singing "Shortnin' Bread." Oh my gosh, I'm laughing as I type this because I can still hear it and picture it, thanks to a wonderful VHS set we used to have when our kids were little. So sad she didn't make it to 100.

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    1. Glad you liked the tribute, although I thought it was a bit inadequate considering her incredible body of work.

      Mark Evanier wrote this about her, and I thought it was so very accurate: "She was so dear and so wonderful that a lot of people seemed to be having trouble processing the information that a woman who was 99 years and 10 months old had died, like that was impossible. I suppose some of it is that she is so omnipresent — in the shows we watch and in our minds — that it's difficult to think of yourself as living in a world where there is no June Foray."

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  8. Wow! I admit I did not know her name, but I most certainly did grow up with and love her!

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    1. There are a lot of voice-over artists whose names aren't known by the general public. I was actually surprised that so many outlets reported June Foray's passing.

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  9. The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show was probably my favorite cartoon. Thanks for the great post about June.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. The best cartoons have always been those that were written to appeal to adults as well as children. Rocky and Bullwinkle was one of those.

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    2. We watched Pinky and the Brain as a family, when the kids were young. It was hilarious to all of us.

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    3. Yep, that's exactly the type of show I'm referring to. Beany and Cecil was another.

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