Monday, 17 September 2012

Hokey (Birthday Cake) Smoke!

The world loves June Foray. The world loves a party. So why not put them both together?

That’s what happened yesterday as Stu Shostak and Jeanine Kasun threw a 95th birthday party for one of the finest voice artists in history (two days early, but who cares?). Among the people there was Fred Frees, the son of Solomon Hersh Frees who appeared with June as Boris opposite her Natasha in the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. Oh, yes, S.H. is better known to us as Paul. Perhaps he didn’t want to be confused with Green Stamps.

June’s early Hanna-Barbera cartoon career was limited to one appearance on a Yogi Bear cartoon on “The Huckleberry Hound Show” in 1958 before she won the role of Betty Rubble then had it inexplicably taken away. Anyone who frequents this blog must be familiar with her career so I don’t need to geek out and write some kind of list, though I will point out a guest shot on “Teen-Age Trials” starring Jerry Dunphy some 59 years ago (I presume it was a local Los Angeles TV show).

We’ve had June Foray Day on the Yowp and Tralfaz blogs already this year, but they didn’t include this cover story from Tele Vues magazine from the Independent Press-Telegram of Long Beach, California. It’s from June 11, 1962.

Bert’s Eye View
TV and Radio Editor

June Foray is a girl who goes around talking to herself—and gets paid for it.
On NBC's Sunday “Bullwinkle” TV show, for example, she’s Rocky the Squirrel and Natasha.
The hero squirrel and villainess Natasha frequently are involved in verbal tilts but June never has the bushy-tail sounding like the sinistress.
On the same show, she's also Nell Fenwick in the “Dudley Du-Right of the Mounties” segment.
She supplies the feminine voices for CBS’s “The Alvin Show” and many of the falsetto tones for ABC's “Calvin and the Colonel.”
For Walt Disney, she’s Grandma Duck and Witch Hazel.
She has been, in fact, about 150 “voice-overs” and each character has been a little “different.”
HER FAVORITE VOICES are those that she does on commercials.
“I get paid more money in residuals (repeats),” she said. "And they're always doing something different with commercials."
The real June Foray, a petite, 4-feet, 11-inch-tall, 95-pound doll, smiled engagingly.
“I had quite a challenge with one commercial last year,” she said. “I did an empty peanut-butter jar.”
So how does an empty peanut-butter jar sound—old, blase, young, vigorous?
“I tried it halfway between a straight voice and a Tallulah (Bankhead),” said June. “They seemed to like it.”
Another which the sponsors “liked” was the radio voice June used to sexily plug a fertilizer. You know the one: “So-and-so is the word for fertilizer.”
The advertisement comes across like an invitation from the world’s most glamorous girl to a midnight rendezvous for two, you and Miss Sexy.
And anybody with common sense knows that midnight is a poor time to fertilize your lawn.
FOR THE SEXY VOICE, June used low, breathy tones; Low tones, according to June, are necessary to transmit glamour over the radio.
“Marilyn Monroe, who has a real high voice, would come over flat on radio,” she said.
On television, except for a few rare exceptions, June has been seen and not heard.
“I’m little,” she said. “There aren’t many seeing parts for little girls.”
It’s the TV audience’s visual loss. The small package comes in a pretty container.
BUT JUNE, who made her radio debut when she was six years old and has been working steadily since she was twelve, has found that there can be recognition even for the unseen.
A doctor recently gave her a prescription for a sore throat.
During the course of his examination, he learned why June felt it was so urgent the throat should be healed quickly.
When the doctor left, he told June:
“I’m going to be a big man in my house when they find out I treated Rocky and Natasha.”
June, with her cartoon voices, has “treated” millions of children. The knowledge of the pleasure she’s given them is worth more than her residual payments.
“They may not stop me at Hollywood and Vine to ask for my autograph,” she added, “but I’m the star in my own neighborhood.”

The birthday party was far from June’s first honour. The first one may have been by Los Angeles City Council on May 1, 1963, as reported by Pasadena’s Independent newspaper the following day.

L.A. Council Resolution Pays Tribute to June Foray
Blonde June Foray, “the Lady of Many Voices,” was honored by the Los Angeles city council yesterday for “her contributions of voice characterizations to the entertainment world and for her participation in many community activities.”
The resolution, unanimously adopted by the Council, was presented to the petite performer by Councilwoman Rosalind Wyman, who described Miss Foray as “a person who
is often heard, but seldom seen.”
Her voice has been heard by millions in such shows as “Bugs Bunny,” “Woody Woodpecker,” “The Bullwinkle Show,” “Disneyland,” “Mickey Mouse Club,” “Cinderella,” and “Peter Pan.”
Miss Foray lives in Woodland Hills.

Courtesy of Stu Shostak, here’s a clip from June’s party. In the background you’ll see another trouper—Rose Marie of “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”


  1. That was sweet (the video of the Birthday)
    Thanks for the reminisces.

  2. Happy Birthday Miss Foray, and thank you for making me laugh. "Boris we must get moose and squirrel..."

    Scott in Torrance CA.

  3. Yowp, thanks for the great birthday video. 95 years old and still going strong. One of the all time greats. Thank God she is still with us. What incredible memories her character voices bring to mind. A million laughs. Happy Birthday June. Many happy returns of the day!

  4. June Foray was born on September 16, 1918