June Foray, voice of Rocky the Fly­ing Squir­rel, dead

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OBITUARIES - BY TERRY WAL­LACE

Ac­tress June Foray, who gave voice to Rocky the Fly­ing Squir­rel and hun­dreds of other cartoon char­ac­ters and was some­times known as the ``fe­male Mel Blanc,’’ has died in a Los An­ge­les hospi­tal. She was 99.

Foray died Wed­nes­day at West Hills Hospi­tal in Los An­ge­les of car­diac ar­rest, but she had been in frag­ile health since a car ac­ci­dent two years ago, niece Robin Thaler said Thurs­day.

Foray was the best-known woman among the voice per­form­ers who con­trib­uted so much to the clas­sic car­toons of Warner Bros., Dis­ney, HannaBar­bera and other stu­dios. She had a galaxy of ways to cre­ate funny but be­liev­able char­ac­ters, but could also be warm and wise in Dis­ney’s “Mu­lan’’ or, in a mem­o­rable “Twi­light Zone’’ episode, chill­ing.

She had over 300 cred­its as a voice ac­tress, most re­cently do­ing one last turn as Rocky in a 2014 short.

Born in Spring­field, Mas­sachusetts, Foray was a teenager when she moved with her par­ents to Los An­ge­les. She had be­gun per­form­ing in ra­dio as a child in Mas­sachusetts and, once in Hol­ly­wood, be­came ac­tive in ma­jor ra­dio pro­grams such as “The Jimmy Du­rante Show.’’ She later called old-time ra­dio a great train­ing ground, forc­ing her to learn to be ver­sa­tile and quick-think­ing.

Among the leg­ends she worked with were Chuck Jones and the other famed Warner’s an­i­ma­tors; Jay Ward, cre­ator of “Rocky and Bull­win­kle’’; Rod Ser­ling, cre­ator of “The Twi­light Zone’’; ra­dio and record­ing satirist Stan Fre­berg; and such cartoon voice tal­ents as Daws But­ler (Huck­le­berry Hound) and Blanc (Bugs Bunny, Sylvester).

In his 1989 mem­oir, “Chuck Amuck,’’ Jones noted “the highly tal­ented and ver­sa­tile Mel Blanc’’ did voices for Bugs, Daffy, Porky, Tweety, Yosemite Sam and oth­ers, “ex­cept fe­male voices, which were done by the equally tal­ented June Foray.’’

Per­haps in­evitably, Rocky — with his trade­mark ex­cla­ma­tion “Hokey Smoke!’’ — was Foray’s favourite.

“Ev­ery­body asks me that,’’ she said in a 2000 As­so­ci­ated Press in­ter­view. “I think the fans kind of an­swer that for me. Ev­ery­body loves Rocky. I get let­ters from Bel­gium, Ger­many, all over. Peo­ple don’t think of him as a squir­rel. They think of him as a per­son. And he’s a good lit­tle per­son.’’

The diminu­tive Foray wore a gold Rocky pen­dent around her neck that she de­lighted in point­ing out to peo­ple.

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