A few years ago, we were vacationing with friends at Put-In-Bay. A number of foreign exchange students work there as part of their college experience. At one restaurant, we had the good fortune to have a waitress who was from Romania. After hearing her accent for just a few seconds, each of us immediately associated it with Natasha, from “Rocky and Bullwinkle.”
She was puzzled, but a good sport, when we asked her to say, “Moose and squirrel.” We left her a good tip, because the accent was absolutely perfect and took us back to our youth in a split second. The actual voice of Natasha on that Saturday morning cartoon show was provided by June Foray, an amazing voice actress for decades. Ms. Foray also provided the voice for one of the lead players — Rocky, the flying squirrel.
June Foray passed away a couple of weeks ago, just two months shy of her 100th birthday. What a career she had and how many voices of beloved characters she provided! In addition to Rocky and Natasha, she was also the granny in all the Tweety-bird cartoons.
If you’re too young to remember these folks, you might have seen the 1966 animated version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Boris Karloff provided the voice for the Grinch, himself, though let me digress to tell you that Mr. Karloff did not sing the words to You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch. That song, a holiday classic (in my opinion), was sung by the talented Thurl Ravenscroft. He was uncredited for the film, so many thought that Boris Karloff did sing it. Mr. Ravenscroft spent over 50 years voicing another character that delighted us. Though also uncredited, he was the man behind Tony the Tiger’s proclamation, “they’re grrrrrr-eat!”
But back to June Foray. She was also featured in the Grinch movie, as the voice of little Cindy Lou Who, who was no more than two. Her line, “Why, Santie Claus, why? Why are you taking our Christmas tree?” is one of my favorites.
The voices behind animation through the years have been amazing, and it’s not unusual for one person to provide a number of different voices. Most of us know Mel Blanc and grew up hearing him perform Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety, Sylvester, Foghorn Leghorn, and Barney Rubble, among many others. Many of the female voices were uncredited in those early days of television, so June Foray’s talents weren’t widely known. She did ultimately receive a star on the Hollywood walk of fame, however.
Her talents weren’t limited to Saturday morning cartoons. She provided voices for a number of movies well into the early 2000s. She was the voice of the Chatty Cathy doll that debuted in 1960. She also voiced the evil “talky Tina” doll in a Twilight Zone episode in 1963.
With her passing, we are missing an amazing voice here on earth. It’s good to know we have captured her many characters for future generations.
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Sue is a retired public servant who volunteers at the Hospice store (For All Seasons) in Troy and teaches part-time at Urbana University. She keeps busy taking care of husband, house, and pets. She and her husband have an adult son who lives in Troy.