June Foray, who supplied the voices of Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Natasha Fatale and Nell Fenwick on the classic “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show,” is set to receive the Comic-Con Icon Award at the 2011 Scream Awards, which will be taped Saturday evening at Universal Studios and will premiere Tuesday at 9 p.m. on Spike TV.
The Scream Awards — which honor all things sci-fi, fantasy, horror and comic books — will also present special awards to the “Harry Potter” films, Robert Downey Jr., Nicolas Cage and Paul Reubens.
Foray’s career has spanned radio, theatrical shorts, feature films, albums, video games, talking dolls and TV. She provided the voice of Talking Tina, who kills Telly Savalas on the “Living Doll” episode of “The Twilight Zone.” The diminutive Foray, who is all of 4 feet 11 inches, has done animation voices for Disney, the Woody Woodpecker cartoons, “The Flintstones,” “Tom and Jerry,” “The Smurfs,” “George of the Jungle,” “Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and “The Jetsons,” to name a few. The Annie Awards, which honor the best in animation, created the June Foray Award in 1995. It’s given to “individuals who have made a significant and benevolent or charitable impact on the arts and the industry of animation.”
Foray, 94, recently spoke with Hero Complex contributor Susan King about the Scream honor and her career.
SK: Congratulations on receiving the Comic-Con Icon Award. Is it a lifetime achievement honor?
JF: Yes, that’s correct. It’s for my contributions to animation and the arts. It’s very exciting.
SK: You’re still working at 94!
JF: I am still doing Granny on “The Looney Tunes Show,” and I am Mrs. Cauldron on “The Garfield Show.” So I’m still going. Isn’t it incredible?
SK: You must still get a kick out of your work.
JF: Oh yes, in fact, if I didn’t work, what would I do? It is what I have done since I was 12 years old.
SK: When did you discover you had a gift to do voices?
JF: When I was 6 years old, I told my mother and father that I wanted to be an actor, and they laughed at me. But they were very esoteric people, and they took me to plays and movies [while growing up in Springfield, Mass.] They took us to see all of these wonderful actors. I would impersonate them.
My mother gave me dancing lessons, which I hated. Fortunately, I got pneumonia sitting by an open window, so I couldn’t take dancing lessons any more. She was a very active pianist and singer, so she said, “You are going to take piano lessons.” I hated that. Fortunately, my brother broke my finger playing baseball with me in the backyard, so I couldn’t play piano any more.
My parents finally said, “OK, we will get you elocution lessons.” [Eventually], the teacher said, “I can’t teach you any more; you are better than I am.” It sounds immodest. I don’t mean it to.
SK: No, you were just gifted.
JF: When I was 15, I called [the local radio station]. They had a new dramatic show, and I said I think I can do all of [these voices]. They hired me, and that’s when I started in radio. When I came out to California…
SK: How old were you?
JF: I was 17.
I had a big radio show with Steve Allen called “Smile Time.” It was every morning for five days of the week. This was in the 1940s. Steve Allen had just come up from Arizona, and he had this show with another actor and they needed a girl who could do a lot of voices. I auditioned for them and they hired me immediately. I did “The Jimmy Durante Show” every week. I did “Lux Radio Theatre.” I worked on everything that was on radio.
Then Disney called, and I started with Disney doing the cat in “Cinderella.”
JF: Lucifer! That’s how I started in animation.
SK: Didn’t you dub actors in movies and TV?
JF: I did a lot of ADR work. I replaced a lot of people. They called me “One-Take Foray.”
SK: How did you hook up with “Rocky and Bullwinkle” creator Jay Ward?
JF: My agent called and said there is a man called Jay Ward who wants to meet you for lunch. He has an idea for a TV show. I said, “Why not?” I met him at the Tail ‘o the Cock when it was on La Cienega. When I met him and Bill Scott [head writer, voice of Bullwinkle] for the first time, they were having martinis. They wanted me to have one. I said, “I’m sorry I don’t drink at lunch.” They said, “Come on, we are having one.” So I had one and they started telling me about this idea they had about a moose and a squirrel. I thought it was a cockeyed idea, but after the second martini I thought it was wonderful. A week later we did a demo, and then I forgot about it. Then about a year later my agent called and said, “Remember those guys that you had lunch with that had the idea of a moose and a squirrel? They are ready to go.” That was 1958.
— Susan King
RECENT AND RELATED