June Foray was born June Lucille Forer on September 18, 1917 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Her parents were Morris Forer and Ida Robinson Forer. Her mother was a piano teacher and June desired to be a dancer. But a bout with Pneumonia changed that. Her mastery of thousands of voices started when her Springfield, Massachusetts speech teacher cast her in a radio program doing "old lady" voices. That began her radio career. She continued in radio even when her family relocated to Los Angeles, California where her uncle was living. There she created her own show at age 15 entitled "Lady Makebelieve". Soon she was a radio star with regular appearances on coast to coast radio shows like Lux Radio Theater, Buster Brown Hour, The Jimmy Durante Show, and Smile Time with Steve Allen. This brought her steady work and a contract recording for Capitol Records hundreds of children and adult albums.
June was a tiny woman who had a huge impact on animation. In the early 1940's she branched out into providing voices for cartoons. Her early work including voices for Disney in Cinderella and shorts such as Lambert the Sheepish Lion's mom and Witch Hazel in the Donald short Trick or Treat. Her work for Warner Brothers is legendary; but she never got an end credit for it until the 90's because Mel Blanc had exclusivity. Her hundreds of voices brought to life Witch Hazel to Tweety Bird's Granny for Chuck Jones, Cindy Lou Who, and Rikki Tikki Tavi to only name a few. For Walter Lantz she did voices including Woody's niece and nephew, For Hannah and Barbara she voiced in Scooby Do, The Jetsons, and the Flintstones, and for Jay Ward she was Rocket J. Rocket in Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Natasha the Russian Spy, Fractured Fairytales, etc. She was the only one Jay Ward wanted to do his voices. Do you remember the Chatty Cathy Doll? That was June's voice when you pulled the string!
Besides her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and her moniker as the oldest actor (94) to receive an Emmy (for Mrs. Cauldron on The Garfield Show), it is June's love of ASIFA Hollywood that she will be forever remembered. ASIFA Hollywood honored her by creating the June Foray Award in 1995. It is a juried award given to individuals in recognition of a significant and benevolent or charitable impact on the art and industry of animation.
Nancy Miles, Co-Founder of the Animation Hall of Fame, recounts: "My first hint of this talented lady came when my mentor, Phil Duncan, mentioned she supplied the voice of Disney's Lucifer (which he had drawn) the Cat in Cinderella. But imagine my surprise when I found out she voiced my childhood favorite Jay Ward's Rocky the Flying Squirrel. I had always pictured a young boy!"
"My friend the late animator Larry Lauria and she were very close during his days with Chuck Jones. It was he who got me my Jay Ward artwork through her. She was one of the instigators of ASIFA's cel sale. She would work tirelessly getting people to donate artwork to raise money for ASIFA in the 80's and 90's. I was president of the Washington DC Animation Art Collectors Club and she came to Alexandria, VA to do a script reading of a Rocky and Bullwinkle segment at a local animation art store. I was thrilled to thank her in person and meet such a wonderful artist. I only got to meet her once again when she voiced Mulan's grandmother and came to a showing in Orlando, Florida where Larry was running the Disney Institute Animation Art Program."
She has left a huge void in the world of voiceovers and dialects and will be sorely missed in the animation world.
We express our deepest condolences to her family and friends.