Legendary voice actor voiced Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Cindy Lou Who…
June Foray, who provided the voices of animated characters including Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Cindy Lou Who, died Wednesday, July 26, 2017, at her home in Los Angeles. She was 99.
The death was confirmed by her close friend Dave Nimitz, who wrote on Facebook, “With a heavy heart again I want to let you all know that we lost our little June today at 99 years old.”
Born Sept. 18, 1917, in Springfield, Massachusetts, Foray was one of the great voice actors who could be heard behind the animation of dozens of TV series and movies. She got her start in radio at the tender age of 12 and was working in the medium regularly by 15, eventually starring on her own radio series, “Lady Make Believe.” But cartoons would make her career.
Foray worked with the best-known cartoon studios. For Disney, she was Lucifer the Cat in “Cinderella” and Grandmother Fa in “Mulan.” She voiced a mermaid for “Peter Pan” and also worked as a mermaid model for the same film, posing along with other young women in scenes that the animators would bring to life for the movie. For Warner Brothers, she was Granny, the owner of Sylvester and Tweety, as well as Witch Hazel. Her relationship with Hanna-Barbera was strained at times: She voiced Betty Rubble in a pilot for “The Flintstones” but was not invited to provide the voice for the series and was disappointed by the decision. However, she did work on other cartoons for the studio, including “Tom and Jerry,” “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?” and “The Jetsons.”
Her voice of Cindy Lou Who for the Christmas special “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” became legendary as she asked the Grinch, “Santie Claus, why? Why are you taking our Christmas tree?” Foray was equally iconic as she voiced numerous female characters for “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show,” including villainess Natasha Fatale and damsel in distress Nell Fenwick, as well as principal character Rocket J. Squirrel.
She voiced characters for “The Smurfs,” “George of the Jungle” and “DuckTales,” and was even the first voice of Chatty Cathy, the popular talking doll produced by Mattel in the 1960s. In a clever bit of casting, “The Twilight Zone” tapped Foray to voice the evil Talky Tina doll, based on Chatty Cathy, in the 1963 episode “Living Doll.”
Foray became the oldest person to be nominated for and to win an Emmy Award in 2012, for her performance as Mrs. Cauldron on “The Garfield Show.” It was her first Emmy nomination. Her other honors include a Comic-Con Icon Award from the Scream Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Animation great Chuck Jones once noted that while the prolific Foray was often compared to fellow voice actor Mel Blanc, “June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc; Mel Blanc was the male June Foray.”
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