It is Cult Faction’s sad duty to report that legendary voice actress June Foray has passed away at the age of 99 years old. Her death was announced by her caretaker, Dave Nimitz who stated Foray had died earlier in the day at her home in Los Angeles on 26th July 2017.
“June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc, Mel Blanc was the male June Foray” – Chuck Jones
After entering radio through the WBZA Players, Foray starred in her own radio series Lady Make Believe in the late 1930s. She soon became a popular voice actress, with regular appearances on coast-to-coast network shows including Lux Radio Theater and The Jimmy Durante Show.
In the 1940s, Foray also began film work, including a few roles in live action movies, but mostly doing voice overs for animated cartoons and radio programs and occasionally dubbing films and television.
On radio, Foray did the voices of Midnight the Cat and Old Grandie the Piano on The Buster Brown Program, which starred Smilin’ Ed McConnell, from 1944 to 1952. She later did voices on the Mutual Network program Smile Time for Steve Allen. Her work in radio ultimately led her to recording for a number of children’s albums for Capitol Records.
For Walt Disney, Foray voiced Lucifer the Cat in the feature film Cinderella, Lambert’s mother in Lambert the Sheepish Lion, a mermaid in Peter Pan and Witch Hazel in the Donald Duck short Trick or Treat; decades later, Foray would be the voice of Grandmother Fa in the 1998 animated Disney film Mulan.
She also did a variety of voices in Walter Lantz’s Woody Woodpecker cartoons, including Woody’s nephew and niece, Knothead and Splinter. Impressed by her performance as Witch Hazel, in 1954 Chuck Jones invited her over to Warner Brothers Cartoons.
For Warner Brothers, she was Granny (whom she has played on vinyl records starting in 1950, before officially voicing her in Red Riding Hoodwinked, released in 1955, taking over for Bea Benaderet), owner of Tweety and Sylvester, and a series of witches, including Looney Tunes’ own Witch Hazel, with Jones as director. Like most of Warner Brothers’ voice actors at the time (with the exception of Mel Blanc), Foray was not credited for her roles in these cartoons.
She played Bubbles on The Super 6 and Cindy Lou Who, asking “Santa” why he’s taking their tree, in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. In 1960, she provided the speech for Mattel’s original “Chatty Cathy” doll; capitalizing on this, Foray also voiced the malevolent “Talky Tina” doll in the Twilight Zone episode “Living Doll”, first aired on November 1, 1963.
For Jay Ward: she played nearly every female on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, including Natasha Fatale and Nell Fenwick, as well as male lead character Rocket J. Squirrel (a.k.a. Rocky Squirrel); played Ursula on George of the Jungle; and also starred on Fractured Flickers.
In the mid-1960s, she became devoted to the preservation and promotion of animation and has since written numerous magazine articles about animation. She and a number of other animation artists had informal meetings around Hollywood in the 1960s, and later decided to formalize this as ASIFA-Hollywood, a chapter of the Association Internationale du Film d’Animation (the International Animated Film Association). She is created with coming up with the idea of the Annie Awards in 1972, awarded by ASIFA-Hollywood, having noted that there had been no awards to celebrate the field of animation.
In 1988, she was awarded the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award, then in 1995, ASIFA-Hollywood established the June Foray Award, which is awarded to “individuals who have made a significant and benevolent or charitable impact on the art and industry of animation.” Foray was the first recipient of the award.
In 2007, Foray became a contributor to ASIFA-Hollywood’s Animation Archive Project. She also had sat on the Governors’ board for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and lobbied for two decades for the Academy to establish an Academy Award for animation; the Academy created the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2001 from her petitioning.
Foray also voiced May Parker in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends from 1981-1983, as well as Raggedy Ann on several TV movies, Grandma Howard on Teen Wolf, Jokey Smurf and Mother Nature on The Smurfs, and Magica De Spell and Ma Beagle in DuckTales. At the same time, she also had a leading role voicing Grammi Gummi on Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears.
Foray guest starred only once on The Simpsons, in the season one episode “Some Enchanted Evening”, as the receptionist for the Rubber Baby Buggy Bumper Babysitting Service. This was a play on a Rocky & Bullwinkle gag years earlier in which none of the cartoon’s characters, including narrator William Conrad, was able to pronounce “rubber baby buggy bumpers” unerringly. Foray was later homaged by The Simpsons, in the season eight episode “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show”, in which the character June Bellamy is introduced as the voice behind both Itchy and Scratchy.