June Foray, the voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Natasha Fatale from The Bullwinkle Show, Granny and Witch Hazel on the Looney Tunes cartoons, and Cindy Lou Who in Chuck Jones’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, died Thursday, July 27. She was 99.
“With a heavy heart again I want to let you all know that we lost our little June today at 99 years old,” Dave Nimitz, A close friend of Foray’s, confirmed on Facebook. “She is resting peacefully now with her beloved sister Geri and Sam her brother-in-law. I’m going out of my mind with the loss and losing all three of them within the last month-and-a-half but they’re in a better place now truly cherish my time with June and in the family for the last 14 years. She is now in heaven with her family and my mother if I don’t respond right away. Please forgive me I need to disappear from Facebook for a while. Saturday we are having a private family only memorial for Sam so it’s very bittersweet for me.”
Foray was the recognizable voice of generations of animation characters.
“June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc, Mel Blanc was the male June Foray,” director Chuck Jones is credited as saying. Her first official voicing of Granny came in 1955’s Red Riding Hoodwinked.
Foray was born on September 18, 1917 in Springfield, Massachusetts. She got her first radio job when she was 12 years old, and was doing regular radio voice work by the time she was 15. She also made comedy albums with Stan Freberg.
Foray broke into film in 1950 as the voice of Lucifer the cat in Cinderella for Walt Disney Studios. She also voiced a mermaid in Peter Pan, the mother of Lambert the Sheepish Lion, Grammi Gummi on Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Grandmother Fa in Mulan in 1998.
Among her many characterizations was Nell from Dudley Do-Right, Peter Parker’s Aunt May in Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends, Foray played the milkmaid on Fractured Fairy Tales, Magica De Spell and Ma Beagle in DuckTales, Lena the Hyena and Wheezy Weasel in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) and Jokey Smurf and Mrs. Sourberry in the 1980s TV show The Smurfs. She also did voices for Curious George, Alvin & The Chipmunks, The Smurfs, DuckTales, The Real Ghostbusters, Felix The Cat, Mulan, Family Guy, The Powerpuff Girls, and Ursula in the new George of the Jungle series on Cartoon Network Britt Irvin became the first person ever to voice a character previously played by Foray when taking over the part in 2011.
Foray voice was by no means limited to cartoons. She played Talking Tina on The Twilight Zone, and did voices on shows like Get Smart. She played little Ricky’s puppy on a 1957 episode of I Love Lucy, and barked for Jerry Lewis on his 1950s single “The Puppy Dog Dream.” Foray was the voice of Betty Rubble in the pilot episode of the cartoon series The Flintstones, when Fred and Wilma had the original last name the Flagstones. She also played Grandma Howard on Teen Wolf.
The voice actress went before the camera as a Mexican telephone operator in an episode of Green Acres. She played the sock-puppet talk-show host Scary Mary on an episode of Married… with Children in 1991. She made cameo appearances in 1992’s Boris & Natasha and 2000’s The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, and as herself on an 1984 episode of The Duck Factory. Foray’s only appearance in a major film role was as a high priestess of a fire cult in Sabaka.
Foray only put in one guest appearance on The Simpsons as the receptionist for the Rubber Baby Buggy Bumper Babysitting Service in the season one episode “Some Enchanted Evening.”
June Foray was married to Bernard Barondess from 1941 to 1945, and writer/director Hobart Donavan from 1954 until he died in 1976.