Remembering June Foray

June Foray at the microphone, recording one of her thousand characters.

This is a post I knew I’d be writing eventually, but I was dreading it. I’ve been an admirer of the tiny giant, June Foray, from the time I was able to read the end credits on the cartoons. She was not only one of the greatest voice actors ever, she was also a wonderful, warm and gracious lady. Last week, she passed away at the age of 99.
I met her a handful of times, but never in any way that was meaningful or memorable enough for her to ever remember me or think of me as anything other than just another in her endless line of fans, and that was just fine, because she treated all her fans as people she liked and wanted to meet.

Mark Evanier wrote a nice tribute for June the day she passed away, giving a lot more information about her career (and then another and another), so I’ll refer you to his site. Go on, read his posts, then come back. I’ll wait.

“Talky Tina,” the murderous doll from that memorable Twilight Zone episode, is just one of the voices June provided for TV. Amusingly, she was also the voice for Mattel’s original Chatty Cathy doll that inspired this episode.

The first time I met June was at San Diego Comic Con in 1981. A fan asked her if she would do both Rocky and Natasha for her, and June responded that she could do both in one sentence, immediately following up with “Hokey Smokes, that’s easy, dahlink,” effortlessly transitioning from one to the other so smoothly there was no way to tell where it changed.

Eventually, I joined CAPS, the Comic Art Professional Society, and was delighted to discover that June was a member. She didn’t attend meetings, but I saw her at a few of the CAPS banquets over the years, and each time she seemed to be even more tiny, while her smile got bigger. Even if she never knew my name, she always said hello and shook my hand and engaged in a little chit-chat.

A signed poster of June with many of the characters she played.

The last time I saw her was at the funeral for Earl Kress, a wonderful writer (Animaniacs, Pinky & the Brain, Dave the Barbarian, Kim Possible, etc.) and even better person that I had been given the opportunity to befriend through the cartoonists’ lunch dates that I’d been invited to. As we made our way from the graveside, I happened to be walking close to June; she asked me how I knew Earl, and we talked for a bit about him. Despite the solemnity of the day, June was her usual gracious self, and made my day a lot brighter.
Less than two months from now, June would have turned 100. A century of June Foray was not enough. Rest in peace, dear lady.

2 Comments

  1. Jeff Nettleton

    June Foray was one of those names you learned as a kid, because you wanted to know who brought life into those cartoon characters you love (once you understood someone did that). You saw he name on everything (except Warner Bros, but you knew it was her, after she took over Granny, from Bea Benaderet). So much joy, from such a wonderful woman.

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