If you are an animation fan you have no doubt heard the voice of one of the most skilled actors in Hollywood with one of the longest careers. June Foray had been using her voice professionally non-stop for decades.
The Springfield native who was born in 1917 had her first voice role in a Walter Lantz Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon during the golden age of animation although she actually was heard in local radio since the age of 12 and she worked in radio regularly at the age of 15. Before she died in 2017 at the age of 99, she had been continuing voice work all the way until 2014, meaning she had a career in Hollywood that outlasted most of her peers.
By the time she was in her twenties, June Foray had her own radio show and she was becoming a popular voice actor appearing regularly on such programs as The Lux Radio Theatre and The Jimmy Durante Show in the late 1940s, also appearing in live-action movies and a number of children’s albums. However her work in animation is by far her most famous.
From the post-war era to the 21st century, Foray has voiced various animated characters in cartoons, movies, shows and specials from Disney, WB, MGM, Walter Lantz, Hanna-Barbera, DePatie-Freleng, Rankin/Bass and more because everyone in the animation industry loved working with her. She worked with all three of the most prolific Looney Tunes directors voicing Witch Hazel for Chuck Jones, Miss Prissy for Robert McKimson and Granny for Friz Freleng (she would continually return to the role of Granny in shows like Tiny Toon Adventures, The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries, Baby Looney Tunes and The Looney Tunes Show). Among the animated movies she worked on are the Disney films Cinderella, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Mulan but her television filmography is the largest voicing characters in famous shows like Rocky and Bullwinkle, The Flintstones, The Smurfs and DuckTales. The first time she ever won an Emmy was for her role as Mrs. Cauldron in The Garfield Show, making her the oldest nominee and winner of the award.
Here are some of the many well-known characters she voiced:
Granny (Looney Tunes)
Witch Hazel (Looney Tunes)
Mermaid (Peter Pan)
Squaw (Peter Pan)
Splinter and Knothead (The Woody Woodpecker Show)
Rocky (Rocky and Bullwinkle)
Natasha (Rocky and Bullwinkle)
Nell Fenwick (Rocky and Bullwinkle)
Mother Magoo (Mister Magoo)
Grandma Dynamite (The Flintstones)
Tanya (The Man Called Flintstone)
Cindy Lou Who (How the Grinch Stole Christmas!)
Ursula (George of the Jungle)
Gypsy Fortune Teller (Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!)
Karen (Frosty the Snowman)
Faintly Macabre (The Phantom Tollbooth)
Jane Kangaroo (Horton Hears a Who!)
Aunt May (Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends)
Jokey Smurf (The Smurfs)
Mother Nature (The Smurfs)
Grammi Gummi (Adventures of the Gummi Bears)
Queen Bumble (My Little Pony)
Ma Beagle (DuckTales)
Magica De Spell (DuckTales)
Wheezy (Who Framed Roger Rabbit)
Lena Hyena (Who Framed Roger Rabbit)
Queen Tabitha (Thumbelina)
Grandmother Fa (Mulan)
Madame Argentina (The Powerpuff Girls)
Mrs. Cauldron (The Garfield Show)
And I left out a lot, including the fact that she was the original voice of the Chatty Cathy doll in 1960.
June Foray’s vocal work isn’t the only thing I like about her. Beginning in the mid-sixties, Foray began publicly advocating for the preservation and promotion of animation and even joined ASIFA-Hollywood alongside a number of other animation artists to officially join informal meetings about the representation of animation. ASIFA (which stands for “Association Internationale du Film d’Animation,” French for “International Animated Film Association”) was founded in 1957 by Bill Scott, Stephen Bosustow, Ward Kimball, William T. Hurtz, Les Goldman and Bill Littlejohn and ASIFA-Hollywood is the branch that gives out the Annie Awards, which June Foray was credited for having the idea for, with the intention of putting a spotlight on animation and the talent involved in creating it.
Foray even had an award named after her at the show: 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.” For decades she also lobbied for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to establish the category for animated features until it was finally introduced in 2001 with Shrek, Monsters, Inc. and Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius as the first nominees.
Not just one of the greatest actors in animation history but a champion for animation who wanted the medium to get the respect it properly deserves. I still think animation is the superior film-related artform so I applaud her and I will sincerely miss hearing her voice.