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June Foray BiographyJune Foray was born in Springfield, Massachusetts on September 18th. Various years of birth have been given for her: 1917, 1919, 1920 and 1925. 1917 seems the most plausible year, since it was attributed to her in an interview that she did in the year 2000 (when her "Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle" movie came out).
Ms. Foray got started in the voice field at the age of 12 (at a time when she was already doing old lady voices). She had the good fortunate of having a speech teacher who also had a radio program in the local Springfield, Massachusetts area. This teacher became her mentor, and she added June to the cast of her show.
Eventually June's family moved to California, where she continued in radio. By the age of 15, she was already writing her own show for children (in which she also provided voices): "Lady Makebelieve".
June dabbled in both on-camera/physical acting and voice work, but she appeared to be particularly talented in voice characterizations, dialects and accents. Just like Daws Butler (one of her later co-stars), June was a "voice magician"! She worked steadily in radio in the 30s, 40s and into the 50s.
In the 40s (and possibly even as early as the 30s), June branched out from radio and began providing voices for cartoons. Sometime in the 40s, she also did some voices for a live action short called "Speaking of Animals". In this project, she dubbed in voices for real on-screen animals. She was to repeat this task, in the early 70s, on an episode of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color.
It was the 1950s, however, when June's star in Animation not only began to rise, but soared! In the late 40s, she, Stan Freberg, Daws Butler, Pinto Colvig (and many others) recorded hundreds of children's and adult albums for Capitol Records. Her female characterizations, on these records, ran the entire gambit: little girls, dowagers, middle-aged hags, old ladies, witches, etc., etc. And no one seemed to be able to do these same voices with the warmth, energy and sparkle that June did.
As a result of these albums, Disney sought June out, and hired her to do the voice of Lucifer the cat in "Cinderella" (1950). They were to use June many times, over the decades, into the 21st Century. Warner Brothers also heard about her, and hired her to do all of their Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts (they had previously been using Bea Benaderet). June has done many incidental characters for Warners, but her most famous voice has been that of Granny (in the Tweety and Sylvester series). Unfortunately, since Mel Blanc's contract called for exclusive voice credit on these cartoons, June never received credited for all the voices that she did.
Finally in 1957, Jay Ward, famous for the Rocky and Bullwinkle series (as well as "George of the Jungle" and "Hoppity Hooper"), met with June, over cocktails. He explained to June what he was looking for, regarding the voices of Rocky the Flying Squirrel and the villainess, Natasha Fatale. Two years later, on November 19, 1959, the showed debuted as "Rocky and His Friends" (and later changed its name to "The Bullwinkle Show" in 1961). The series ran for 5 years total.
Of course, June provided many other voices for this show; especially for the show's "side shows", such as "Fractured Fairy Tales" and "Aesop and Son". She did fewer voices for Rocky and Bullwinkle's "Peabody's Improbable History" segment, but she did participate in at least three of those episodes. After the show had been successful for a few years, Jay Ward soon added one of this series most popular segments: "Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties". June was a regular in this side show; namely as Dudley's girlfriend, Nell Fenwick.
Jay Ward showcased Ms. Foray's talent like no other producer had before; mainly because he used her exclusively for nearly all the female voices. With only a few exceptions, she did every single female voice. June missed out on doing voices for three of the show's "Fractured Fairy Tales" only because she was booked to do some recording work with Stan Freberg, and could not reschedule it. Actress Julie Bennett filled in for her, on those occasions. Also, there were a few times when Bullwinkle co-producer Bill Scott's wife, Dorothy, did voices for "Peabody's Improbable History".
After Rocky and Bullwinkle, Jay Ward produced two other cartoon series: "Hoppity Hooper" (1964) and "George of the Jungle" (1967). June was absent from the "Hoppity Hooper" series; Ward and Scott relied on the talents of actress Chris Allen instead. However, June could still be heard on this show, since recycled "Fractured Fairy Tales", "Dudley Do-Right" and "Peabody" segments aired during its run. She soon returned, however, on the "George of the Jungle" series, once again as the lone female voice artist (included on this show were the side shows of "Super Chicken" and "Tom Slick").
Jay Ward and Bill Scott made June incredibly famous, and Rocky the Flying Squirrel being her signature voice. To this day, June regularly wears a necklace, with the figure of Rocky attached to the chain.
On the "Fractured Fairy Tales", Ms. Foray did a whole montage of voices, similar to those from her Capitol Records days. Her witch voices were incredibly funny and magnificently done. Disney and Warner Brothers tapped her to provide that same voice for the character of Witch Hazel.
June lost out to Bea Benaderet, in 1960, when she auditioned to be the voice of Betty Rubble on "The Flintstones" (1960). But over the decades the Hanna-Barbera studio has availed itself of June's colorful characters many times. Animation "holiday special" powerhouse Rankin Bass also called upon June, numerous times during the 60s (for shows such as "Frosty the Snowman" and "The Little Drummer Boy"). She was also occasionally used by Walter Lantz ("Woody Woodpecker") and DePatie-Freleng (producers of "The Pink Panther" cartoon series).
In the early 70s, Ms. Foray also tried her hand at puppetry. She became the voice of an elephant, an aardvark and a giraffe on "The Curiosity Shop". Around this same time, she also recorded various voices for the road shows of Disney on Parade, which toured the United States and Europe for several years.
In the 60s and the 70s, June's voice was used, many times, to dub in voices for full-length feature live action films. Many of these are noted in her filmography at the Internet Movie Data Base. Jay Ward and Bill Scott also used her, in this endeavor, in one of their non-animated series, "Fractured Flickers" (in which June dubbed in dialogue for silent movies).
Ms. Foray has done a very small amount of on-camera work over the years; mostly as a guest on talk shows/game shows or for documentaries. In addition to what has already been listed, under Trivia, at the Internet Movie Data Base, she also had an on-screen role in the movie Sabaka (1954) and in the TV production of Death of a Salesman (1966). In the early years of Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" (1962), she also performed in a 13-week stint as a little Mexican girl. By and large, however, June prefers to record behind the scenes. She has said that, in this way, she can earn more money in less time.
Recent work includes Disney's animated Mulan films (1998 and 2004) as Grandma Fa, and "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle" (2000). See her filmography with the Internet Movie Data Base for more of her 21st Century work. At this writing, her most recent credit is a guest spot on "Duck Dodgers" (2003), on 21 January 2005.
As an afterthought, it's kind of tragic that the reigning "Queen of Cartoons" has appeared only once on America's most popular evening cartoon series, during its 16-year run: "The Simpsons" (1989). In May, 1990, Ms. Foray made her one and only vocal guest spot.
TriviaThough rarely credited, June Foray was the voice of several female characters in many Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons. The last living member of "The Great Ones", the voice actors of animation's Golden Era. Her appearance on "Green Acres" (1965) (as a Hispanic telephone operator) is her last on-screen role to date. (Not including where she appeared as herself, like documentaries, talk shows & award shows.) *She has an on-screen cameo in (movie credit number 25) Boris and Natasha. Only one person has ever voiced a character in a remake of a cartoon series where Foray had provided the voice in the original. Brittney Irvin, (billed as Britt Irvin in the series), voices the character Ursula in the 2007 George of the Jungle cartoon series, which Foray had voiced in the 1960s series. Was a former faculty member at University of Southern California.
Source provided by imdb (Copyright) - The Internet Movie Database.