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Remembering Animation Legend June Foray (1917-2017)

Remembering Animation Legend June Foray (1917-2017)

We’ve had to say goodbye to some truly legendary and beloved figures in entertainment recently, and it’s always a sad and somber affair. Their profound contributions to the cultural zeitgeist and to the childhoods of many people cannot be overstated. This is especially true for iconic voice actor June Foray, who passed away this week at the age of 99, just two months before her 100th birthday. Foray’s voice acting career dates all the way back to radio shows in the 1930s and her first bit of animation came with an Oswald the Lucky Rabbit short in 1943. Some 300 acting credits later, and you almost couldn’t have an animated project without her.

Foray is perhaps best known for playing various matronly characters, most notably Granny, the owner of Sylvester and Tweety, in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts, taking over the role from fellow Warner Bros voice staple Bea Benaderet in 1955’s Red Riding Hoodwinked. She voiced the character ever since, in film and television. Foray also provided the voice for Witch Hazel, the cackling witch who would cause havoc for Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck in Halloween and horror-themed shorts.

For Disney, she played characters ranging from Lucifer in 1950’s Cinderella all the way to Grandmother Fa in 1998’s Mulan. She was also a staple of the Disney Afternoon television lineup in the ’80s and ’90s, voicing the benevolent Grammi Gummi in The Adventures of the Gummi Bears and both of Duckburg’s great female villains, crime boss Ma Beagle and the fantastically devilish Magica De Spell, in DuckTales.

There are also a great many people who grew up hearing Foray’s voice as iconic characters in Jay Ward’s various Rocky and Bullwinkle projects, as the titular Rocket J. Squirrel and the husky-voiced villain Natasha Fatale opposite Boris Badenov, voiced by fellow animation titan, Paul Frees.

It would be a Herculean task to try to speak about every single one of Foray’s iconic roles, let alone the ones that you definitely know but might not even realize she voiced. Over the years she gave life to the likes of Cindy Lou Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Aunt May in the ’80s Spider-Man, Raggedy Ann in a series of shorts, Jokey Smurf on The Smurfs, and more additional voices than you could possibly imagine. She’s been in everything, and did it beautifully for close to 70 years.

Chuck Jones, the most famous animator and director ever to come out of the Looney Tunes bunch, once said of June Foray: “June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc, Mel Blanc was the male June Foray.” There’s no truer statement on the life and career of a woman whose name should be known to everyone.

Featured Image: Mitch Haddad © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved

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