You may not recognize the name “June Foray.” You may not even recognize Foray if you saw a photo of her. But considering that she was known by the nickname “The Cartoon Queen” and was often referred to as the First Lady of Animated Voicing, you’ve definitely heard her in one of the hundreds of cartoons or other works of animation she voiced over her amazing 87-year career. Foray died on July 26 at the age of 99.
Foray began working as a voice artist at age 12, doing “old lady” voices. While her early work was often uncredited, that didn’t stop Foray. When she was just 15, Foray was writing her own radio show called Lady Makebelieve, for which she provided all the voices.
As her career began to take off, Foray moved from radio to voicing cartoons. The first to come calling was Disney, which hired her to provide the voice for Lucifer the cat in the animated hit Cinderella. Most people know Foray, though, for two specific voices: Rocky the Flying Squirrel in TV’s Rocky and His Friends, which was later renamed The Bullwinkle Show, and the voice of Granny in Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons.
Besides voicing Rocky, Foray also provided the voice for Natasha in those cartoons. With Bugs Bunny and his many friends, she voiced Witch Hazel, the heel-clicking, hairpin-losing witch. Even though she was well-known by this time, Foray was uncredited in all the Warner Brothers’ cartoons because fellow voice artist Mel Blanc had it in his contract that he was the only one to be listed in the credits.
Chuck Jones, animator and director extraordinaire, once said, “June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc. Mel Blanc was the male June Foray.”
Although many of the voices Foray provided were for funny characters, there was at least one that scared audiences of all ages: she voiced the doll, Talky Tina, in the 1963 episode of The Twilight Zone called Living Doll, which starred actor Telly Savalas as the stepfather of a girl whose doll threatens to kill him. Rod Serling offered her the role after Foray provided the voice for Chatty Cathy, Mattel’s famous doll that would talk.
In 2000, Foray got her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Then in 2012 at 94, she became the oldest entertainer to be nominated for, and then win, an Emmy — for her role as Mrs. Cauldron in The Garfield Show. She even had an award named after her; The June Foray Award is given away each year by ASIFA (the U.S. branch of the International Animated Film Association) —Hollywood to someone who has contributed greatly in the field of animation.
Want to hear the great June Foray in action?
Here’s an early clip with Foray as Rocky the Flying Squirrel:
While we’re on the subject of Rocky and Bullwinkle, let’s watch a clip of Natasha, the Russian spy.
If you saw Tweety Bird, you often saw Granny — she needed to protect her little birdie from that mean Sylvester the Cat.
Bugs Bunny encountered Witch Hazel in a number of adventures. I love the laugh Foray created for her.
How could the Grinch steal Cindy Lou Who’s Christmas tree? Listen to that voice!
Eeeeekkk!!! It’s Talky Tina!
Here’s June Foray in a rare on-camera appearance in a skit with Johnny Carson on The Johnny Carson Show.
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