June Foray didn’t get a lot of work at Hanna-Barbera, despite being the top female voice actress around, and having voiced for Joe Barbera in the waning days of the MGM cartoon studio when he and Bill Hanna were producers. Maybe it was a matter of cost; Daws Butler was getting more than scale, according to cartoon producer and H-B expert Mark Evanier, so the acting budget may have been tapped out. Or maybe they just didn’t need her; Daws and Don Messick generally handled the women’s voices in falsetto until Jean Vander Pyl was hired in 1959.
At H-B, June appeared in ‘Bear on a Picnic’ in the first season of The Huckleberry Hound Show (1958). She won, then lost, the role of Betty on The Flintstones (and got a paltry few incidental roles as a kind of consolation). And that was pretty well it until The Smurfs came along some years later.
It’s not like she needed the work. Her talent kept her constantly in demand. And it’s nice to see that she was getting a little bit of publicity back in the day when cartoon voice actors didn’t get a lot of credit.
Here are a couple of newspaper articles, both from 1957. Remember, this was before Rocky and His Friends, the show where she gained her most famous role (and weekly screen credit). First, a feature piece from the San Fernando Living page of the Van Nuys News, dated October 17th. The reference to “Trick or Treet” has me stumped; I thought it was referring to the Warners cartoon “Trick or Tweet,” but that didn’t come out until 1959 (see the comment section for the answer). The photo is a standard publicity shot; I wish had a better copy than a scan of a photocopy of a newspaper.
Valley Girl ‘Unseen Voice’ In Radio, Video Shows
By ARTHUR EDDY
To millions of television and radio fans, June Foray is a voice detached from a body, so to speak.
By way of explanation, it means that Miss Foray is the girl that just about everybody hears but seldom sees.
Most of her work is off-camera, as, to a large extent, her career is concentrated upon recording voices for radio and television commercials, radio programs and cartoons.
Lives in Reseda
Miss Foray, who gets her mail in Reseda, is probably Hollywood’s most outstanding specialist in imitating all sorts of voices and sounds, ranging from a baby to a witch. And this rather unconventional profession earns her an income which could arouse envy of many a big-business tycoon.
In terms of size, Miss Foray is rather a small package of charming humanity. She is about five feet tall and weighs in the neighborhood of 97 pounds, even after her daily luncheon at the Vine St Brown Derby. But she’s packed solidly with talent.
After making her professional debut as a child in radio in her home town, Springfield, Mass., Miss Foray eventually penetrated to Hollywood. Her Hollywood debut occurred with “Lady Make Believe” radio program which she produced and starred in.
For five years Capitol records employed her talents as she recorded voices for more than 100 albums, including those slanted at children. With the popular Stan Freberg, she did all the female voices on the best-selling record “St. George and the Dragonette” and other items in the same entertainment area. More recently she has regularly appeared on Freberg’s radio show via CBS.
In the cartoon field, she has impersonated characters in the “Woody Woodpecker,” “Bugs Bunny” and other series. For the fabulous Walt Disney, Miss Foray has recorded voices for “Disneyland,” “Mickey Mouse Club Theatre,” “Trick or Treet,” “Cinderella,” “Peter Pan” and other projects.
Soap to Jello
It’s almost impossible to tune in your radio or television set without hearing the Foray voice extoll the virtues of such products as Helene Curtis, Schlitz, Mars Bars, Dial Soap, Boron, Snowdrift, Budweiser Beer, Randini, Pet Milk, Jello, Pillsbury, Hormel Frankfurts, Western Airlines.
June and her husband, Hobart Donovan, the writer, are lavish hosts in their Reseda home and are planning a new domicile (they recently bought a lot) in Woodland Hills which will afford them greater entertainment potentialities.
Cat and Dog
Their household includes Henry, a rather independent Thomas cat, and Katrinka, a Dachshund, who is strictly a lady.
Miss Foray occasionally finds time to indulge in her new hobbies, which are painting in oils, photography and gardening.
Incidentally, Husband Hobart excells in the culinary as well as the literary arts, especially in collaboration with barbecue facilities.
The United Press also thought the mystery voice-behind-the-show was a good angle for an April 7th story about Shirley Temple’s TV show. Perhaps the biggest revelation is June played the voice of a can of Bud, which would be as far against type as possible.
June Foray Generally Is Unseen
By RON BURTON
United Press Staff Correspondent
HOLLYWOOD (UP)—You can call June Foray “mousey” and get away with it. In fact, she’ll probably be flattered.
Miss Foray has “played” numerous roles in her theatrical career. They include animals such as mice, chickens, dogs, owls, cats, rabbits, cows, skunks, crows, pigeons, mules, pigs, monkeys and parrots—to name a few. She’s also played houses, chairs, cars, trains, lamps and, for TV commercials, a candy bar, a piece of soap and even a can of beer.
And at some times she has voiced characters such as Cinderella and Pinocchio.
Miss Foray is many voices to many people. Her voice has been dubbed in for so many animals and inanimate creatures hat she can't recall how many there have been. There have been hundreds of cartoons in which her voice has been heard, more than 1,000 radio plays and TV shows and about 300 record albums.
“I guess it’s my fate, generally speaking, to be heard but not seen,” she said. “However, I have appeared as a human on some TV shows — Ed Sullivan, Red Skelton and Johnny Carson. It’s very satisfying for the ego to be seen, but for sheer joy, dubbing voices is to me the greatest.”
She thinks she’s done about 200 mice dubbings. The latest mouse — her character preference, by the way, in animal vocalizing—will be heard April 18 in the “Shirley Temple Story book” TV series. The film by Screen Gems is “Land of Green Ginger,” and Miss Foray analyzed the character before deciding to play it.
“I can’t do a male mouse the same as I’d play a female,” she said. “And the suave city mouse—the guy who eats Roquefort—he’s nothing like his poor old unsophisticated country cousin. Then, of course, there are field mice, timid mice, bold mice, altruistic mice and selfish mice and old mice and young mice—each one calls for a different voice treatment.
“My latest mouse is a ‘feisty,’ forceful type of mouse. I know it’s hard to project forcefulness in a thin, squeaky voice, but it can be done. One trick is to emphasize key words like ‘Go!’ if you want to do it effectively.”
Miss Foray has never studied the habits of mice even she does like to play them.
“Gosh, I might have to look at some of them, and they terrify me,” she explained.
Isn’t that great? Free tips from one of the greats. And there probably isn’t a voice actress who fans today adore more than June Foray.