June Foray, voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel, dead
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.