Sunday, 30 July 2017


My obituary of June Foray, the voice-over artist who was most famously the voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Natasha Fatale, is on line at the Guardian now; you can link to it here. It should be in the paper paper tomorrow.

It appears pretty much as written. I'm not sure why they describe WBZA radio in Springfield, where Foray got her start, as a 'music station', in the 1930s it was a radio station, producing and broadcasting all kinds of programmes: any station with its own WBZA Players was obviously producing drama. I couldn't find out whether BZA's programmes went out on thr NBC Blue Network; the station was leased by Westinghouse to NBC, and was a sister station of Boston's WBZ. Reading other accounts of her early life it was difficult to get an exact chronology of which programmes she did where.

It was tempting to throw in lots of the great stuff from Rocky & Bullwinkle, George of The Jungle, and Dudley Do-Right, or to trace the series' roots back to Jay Ward and Alex Anderson's Crusader Rabbit, where Crusader and Ragland T Tiger were prototypes for Rocky and Bullwinkle (and Dudley Nightshade for Snidley Whiplash). I hadn't been aware of Mel Blanc's exclusivity on voice credits on the Warners' cartoons; it was a shame. That's Chuck Jones (left) and Blanc with June.

There were some connections I didn't include, like Bill Scott, the voice of Bullwinkle, who worked with Foray on Speaking Of Animals. Or the stuff she did with Stan Freberg, a comic genius of radio, advertising and records. That's her on the right, in between Daws Butler and Freberg. When she performed on Carson's Cellar she was doing skits and sketches, playing the Imogene Coca role from Sid Caesar's show, and she was funny. It was before my time, but you can find a bit of it on the You Tube. I remember the Talky Tina episode of Twilight Zone (but didn't recall Telly Salvalas!). I don't remember the High Priestess Sabaka, and I watched Andy's Gang as a kid, and loved Gunga ('such is so, sahib') and Rama ('ayee Gunga!'). I will have to search out that movie. It even has Boris Karloff! And the one role I wish I had mentioned was voicing Wheezy, the zoot-suit hyena in Roger Rabbit.

She was a pro, she worked constantly, always gave the client what they wanted and moved on. She also made great efforts on behalf of her fellow workers in voice and animation, and that was something she should be admired for doing. That's her posed with (left to right) Tex Avery, Chuck Jones, Fritz Freleng and Bob Babbitt. While I was researching the obit, I read a couple of pieces about her by Mark Evanier, whom I remembered as a comic fan and then writer, and who co-wrote her biography. I got the image of a tiny dynamo always in motion or on voice. It was that image I held with me as I wrote the obit. RIP.

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