June Foray got started in the voice field at the age of 12, when her speech teacher, who also had a radio program in the local Springfield, Massachusetts area, added June to the cast of her show. By the age of 15, she was writing and hosting her own show for children, “Lady Makebelieve”, in which she also provided all the voices, including old lady voices. Although, Foray dabbled in on-camera acting, she was particularly talented in voice characterizations, dialects and accents. She worked steadily in radio in the 30s, 40s and into the 50s, as the female “voice magician”. Foray, Stan Freberg, Daws Butler, Pinto Colvig (and many others) recorded hundreds of children’s albums for Capitol Records. To the right is a photo of June at a recording session with Stan Freberg and Daws Butler.
Even before she left radio and records, Foray branched out into voices for cartoons. Her first cartoon voice was Lucifer the cat, in Disney’s 1950 animated feature, “Cinderella”. Disney used Foray many times over the decades, well into the 21st Century. Warner Brothers also hired her to do all of their Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts. But, perhaps Foray’s most famous voices have been Granny, in the Tweety and Sylvester series, and Rocky and Natasha in Jay Ward’s Rocky and Bullwinkle series. She seems now to be the only remaining “Great One” from the golden age of voice talents … and she’s still working.
But, what many people don’t know about June Foray, is her tireless work behind-the-scenes, in support of animation and short films, though her stewardship in the Motion Picture Academy and ASIFA, the International Society of Animation. In our interview, we devote a good portion to this lesser known side of Foray’s work.
This episode is sponsored by The UPA Legacy Project.