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As a child in Springfield, Mass., Foray’s family would often go to movies and plays, and she “would come home and impersonate everybody,” she said. By age 6, she knew she wanted to be an actress. By 12, she started working professionally, in a local radio play; by 15, she was regularly doing voice work on the radio. At 17, the family moved to Los Angeles, and she started getting lots of work, mainly doing voices for radio, film, and (later) television. She created various characters for The Lux Radio Theatre and The Jimmy Durante Show on radio, “Witch Hazel” for Donald Duck and Bugs Bunny cartoons, “Granny” for Sylvester and Tweety cartoons, “Cindy Lou Who” in Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and various voices for The Flintstones, The Yogi Bear Show, The Woody Woodpecker Show, The Huckleberry Hound Show, and Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color — even Lost in Space. “June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc,” the famous voice of the Looney Tunes cartoons, said Chuck Jones — the writer, producer, and director of most of the classic Looney Tunes cartoons. “Mel Blanc was the male June Foray.” Foray was even the original voice of the “Chatty Cathy” doll, released in 1959 (which led to her being cast as the “Talky Tina” doll that was the nemesis of Telly Savalas in a classic 1963 Twilight Zone episode).
With all that, Foray will always be best known as “Rocket J. Squirrel” (better known as Rocky) on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show (where she also played evil spy Natasha Fatale, and the ever-innocent damsel Nell Fenwick). “I’m all mouth,” Foray laughed in the 1960s, over the wide variety of characters she voiced, usually without ever appearing on camera herself. How did she come up with Rocky’s voice? Bullwinkle creator “Jay [Ward] said he wanted Rocky to sound like a plain little boy but with a very knowledgeable sound, so I did an all-American squirrel Boy Scout.” Foray kept working, appearing in The Simpsons, Garfield and Friends, and even doing “Granny” for Looney Tunes (and reprising Rocky in a direct-to-video Rocky and Bullwinkle short) as late as 2014, when she was 96 years old. She died July 26, at 99.
From This is True for 29 July 2017
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