June Foray, the voice of Rocky The Flying Squirrel, Granny from Looney Tunes, and literally hundreds of other beloved animated characters, has died. Heralded as “the first lady” and the “queen” of voice acting, Foray’s career in film and TV stretched for 71 years and more than 300 credits, embodying everyone from Magica De Spell to Dorothy from The Wizard Of Oz. As reported by Variety, Foray was 99.
Originally working in radio—and on comedy albums with Stan Freberg—Foray broke into film in 1950, when she voiced Lucifer the cat in Disney’s Cinderella. From there, it would probably be easier to list the beloved animated series she didn’t appear on: Her versatile voice showed up in The Flintstones, Peter Pan, Mister Magoo, dozens of Looney Tunes shorts—with director Chuck Jones supposedly once noting that “June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc, Mel Blanc was the male June Foray”—The Twilight Zone (where she voiced murderous doll Talky Tina), Woody Woodpecker, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Get Smart, Curious George, Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends, Alvin & The Chipmunks, The Smurfs, DuckTales, The Real Ghostbusters, Tiny Toon Adventures, Gummi Bears, Garfield And Friends, Rugrats, Felix The Cat, Mulan, Family Guy, The Powerpuff Girls, and, of course, Rocky And His Friends (and its 2000 film version). At the risk of belaboring the point, it’s safe to say: If you have even a passing interest in the last century of animation, you’re familiar with Foray’s work.
(We should probably also note at this point that, while Foray did appear on The Simpsons, it was in the first-season episode “Some Enchanted Evening”, and not as June Bellamy—of “terrible strain on the animator’s wrists” fame—in “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochy Show.” Although the character was designed as an homage to her, she was voiced by Tress MacNeille.)
Outside of her extensive work as a voice actress, Foray was also a tireless champion for animation. She was one of the founders (and multiple-time winner) of the Annie Awards, which recognize excellence in animation, and helped push for animated films to be recognized by the Oscars.
Foray received her first and only Emmy nomination in 2012, for The Garfield Show. When she won, she became the oldest entertainer, at 94, to be nominated for or win an Emmy. Foray gave her final performance in 2014, reprising her role as Rocky for a new animated short. (Tom Kenny played Bullwinkle, taking over for the late Bill Scott; he expressed his admiration for Foray to us a few years ago, calling her “a very scrappy, ballsy lady. Somebody who could definitely walk into a room full of wisecrackin’, three-martini-lunch, dudes in 1950-whatever or 1960-whatever, and hold her own.”)
Foray’s long-time friend Dave Nimitz reported her death on Facebook.