The world is much too quiet today with the passing of June Foray. Fortunately, she got a chance to catch a small glimpse of how much people loved her when she was the victim on December 30, 2016 of a fake news story that she had passed away.
The instant flood of sincere appreciation for all she has done and all the lives she has unselfishly touched in a positive way was overwhelming. She outlived most of her contemporaries and was one of the last survivors from the Golden Age of animation.
In June 1992, June Foray wrote the foreword for a book I had written that was never published entitled Hooked: Peter Pan on Stage and Screen. We had known each other because of our work with ASIFA-Hollywood and I was impressed by her graciousness and enthusiasm in helping out an aspiring book author.
In 1998, I got a chance to interview her on stage at the Animation Celebration at the Disney Institute in Orlando and even got a chance to do a cold reading with her in front of the audience from an animation script neither of us had previously seen.
One of the most memorable moments of my life was after we finished and she turned to me and in front of the audience said, You were pretty good. Im impressed. Once again, she was gracious and supportive even though she didnt need to be. It was just her nature to be so wonderful and I saw that same unselfishness demonstrated to so many others over the years.
She was an intelligent, articulate, talented, passionate, funny, hard working, generous and attractive petite spitfire who seemed ageless.
The title of June Forays 2009 autobiography was Did You Grow Up With Me Too? She was assisted in sharing the memories of her career by writers Mark Evanier and Earl Kress who, like everyone else, were huge Foray fans.
Actually, not everyone was a Foray fan. June was put on President Nixons infamous Enemies List and was audited by the IRS for nearly a decade for taking a stand on something she believed in. It was just another of the countless interesting anecdotes and events in her long, colorful life.
Millions of people grew up hearing Junes voice on a huge variety of animated cartoons for just about every animation studio for decades to intriguing ADR work for both men and women. For instance, she voiced several boys playing on the beach in the iconic film Jaws (1975). She is the voice of the wife of Mayor Carlos (who is being dunked in a well) in the Pirates of the Caribbean Disney theme park attraction.
Even though she made on camera appearances in including appearing in comedy sketches for thirteen weeks on Johnny Carsons Carsons Cellar televsion program, she used to joke she liked working off camera where she could earn more money in less time.
She played a Hispanic telephone operator in a 1967 episode of the television series Green Acres. She played the role of Marku Ponjoy, High Priestess of a fire cult in the film, Sabaka (1954) starring Boris Karloff.
In 1960, she provided the voice for Mattel’s original popular selling “Chatty Cathy” doll and then three years later did the voice of the evil “Talky Tina” doll in a The Twilight Zone episode (“Living Doll”).
Even the general public knows that she provided the voices for Rocky and Natasha on The Bullwinkle Show (“These cartoons weren’t for children and they weren’t for adults. They were for everyone.”), Granny and Witch Hazel in Warner Brothers cartoons, Cindy Lou Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the voice of Jokey Smurf on The Smurfs and so many others.
Her career included radio, theatrical shorts, feature films, television, record albums (particularly with Stan Freberg who said, whatever the age, whatever the accent, June could always do it.”), video games, commericals, talking toys, and other media.
Born June Lucille Forer in Springfield, Massachusetts, September 18, 1917, she got into voice-over work at the age of 12, performing in a local radio drama. She moved to Los Angeles at 17 and quickly established herself as a popular radio actress on national broadcasts. She had never been out of work for over eighty years.
She always claimed her first major animation role came in 1950, playing Lucifer the Cat in Walt Disney’s Cinderella.
“Someone at Disney heard one of the many childrens records I had done for Capitol and called me in to do the sounds of Lucifer the Cat in Cinderella, recalled June. But I never got to meet Walt.
Old issues of Radio Life magazine state that she did voices for cartoons in the 1940s. One of the earliest was probably The Unbearable Bear (1942) for Chuck Jones where she did the voice of Mrs. Bear. Her mechanically sped up voice can be heard in Walter Lantzs final Oswald the Rabbit cartoon, The Egg Cracker Suite (1943) with June as the voice of Oswald.
In Disney’s animated feature, Peter Pan, she played a mermaid. They put her in a one piece bathing suit along with Margaret Kerry and Connie Hilton and filmed them performing on a makeshift wooden set covered with tarps resembling rocks for live action reference for the animators. She did do the voice of the Squaw in the film.
In the 1960s, she became a devoted advocate for the preservation and promotion of animation. She was the leading force of ASIFA-Hollywood, including holding sales of animation cels in her backyard to raise funds for the organization which is where I first met her and Bill Scott who voiced Bullwinkle.
She also created the Annie Award (her husband coined the name) and the now famous award ceremony in 1972. In 1995, ASIFA established the June Foray Award for individuals who have made a significant and benevolent or charitable impact on the art and industry of animation. June was the first recipient.
“I talk about animation, and my career in animation, and the success that animation has finally become. Instead of being second class citizens in this world of show business, we are now attaining a dignity that should have been affording us many years ago”, she stated several years ago.
In 2012, June received her first Emmy nomination and won in the category of Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program for her role as Mrs. Cauldron on The Garfield Show. By doing so, she became at age 94, the oldest entertainer to be nominated for, and to win, an Emmy Award at the time. Just another in the many groundbreaking achievements throughout her career.
On July 7, 2000 a star bearing the name “June Foray” was unveiled on the legendary Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“I love everything I do, with all of the parts that I do, because there’s a little bit of me in all of them. We all have anger and jealousy and love and hope in our natures. We try to communicate that vocally with just sketches that you see on the screen and make it come alive and make it human. That’s what I enjoy doing”, June said in 2003.