Saturday, August 5, 2017

R.I.P. June Foray.



We celebrate the career of June Foray, “The First Lady of Voice Acting”, who passed away on July 26, 2017, at the age of 99. 

There’s almost nothing I could add to the many deserved tributes already out there, save picturing some of Ms. Foray's many, many characters that were particularly special to me, and ending with three oddities from my “Sixties TV Wheelhouse”. 

But first, here is June Foray’s amazing list of credits at IMDB. 


Oh, my… Now, where do we begin… Don't answer that, it's obvious!  

Hokey Smoke!  With Rocky the Flying Squirrel, of course!  


From the original TV series ROCKY AND HIS FRIENDS (1959) and THE BULLWINKLE SHOW (1961) and its many syndicated mash-ups that have been seen ever since!  

And, if you (even on occasion) "hear voices" while reading comic books, You've no doubt "heard" June Foray speak for Rocky, sultry Pottsylvanian spy Natasha Fatale, and Dudley Do Right's gal Nell Fenwick in comics ranging from classic and original Dell...


...To modern IDW...  

...With a new series in 2017 from American Mythology. 

Back to characters immortalized by June Foray...

Granny, from Tweety and Sylvester...


...Taking over the role from Bea Benaderet, the character was briefly redesigned for Ms. Foray (above), before returning to her "original" look, which remains to this day.   


"Witch Hazel" for Disney...


...And "Witch Hazel" for Warner Bros. 


Woody Woodpecker's nephew and niece, Knothead and Splinter.


Grandma Dynamite and other characters on The Flintstones... 


...Including the original version of Betty Rubble from the short pilot film "The Flagstones".  Oddly, Bea Benaderet would be cast as Betty for the series, so Bea Benaderet and June Foray essentially "traded characters"... Granny for Betty Rubble!  How 'bout that!  


Little Cindy-Lou Who.  


...And, on DuckTales (...the animated series I now refer to as "DuckTales Classic", as opposed to "New DuckTales" 2017), both Magica De Spell and Ma Beagle!



The original Mattel "Chatty Cathy" talking doll...

...and its evil counterpart from The Twilight Zone, "Talky-Tina"...

...Who was clearly the forerunner of "Chucky"!  


Now, as promised, three oddities from my "Sixties TV Wheelhouse" that feature June Foray...

Uncredited, Ms. Foray voiced Gundemar, a well-mannered and refined talking dragon (!) on the LOST IN SPACE episode "The Questing Beast" (1967).  

Gundemar is the quarry of an aged, bumbling, and quixotic knight, played superbly with alternating bluster and pathos by Hans Conried... 

...in effect, reuniting (...if only by ADR) Nell Fenwick and Snidely Whiplash, who was voiced by Conried! 


June Foray was also the "announcer voice" of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964-1968), as the DVD collection reveals.  


If it's not clear enough to read: "13) THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN AFFAIR - Play with original STATION BREAK ANNOUNCEMENTS by JUNE FORAY".  Who would wanna play this WITHOUT them?! 

Finally, June Foray joined host Hans Conreid and fellow Rocky and Bullwinkle voice actors Paul Frees and Bill Scott for producer Jay Ward's FRACTURED FLICKERS, a short-lived, early sixties prime time TV series where these talented performers would "voice" silent movie clips with funny and satirical dialogue, almost never having anything to do with the original films.  


There was also a regular segment where Hans Conried would interview a celebrity guest, as noted below.  


...Yes, I actually watched this as a little kid!  And will admit to owning the DVD!  Actually, it's great fun - especially for Jay Ward / Rocky and Bullwinkle fans like myself!  ...And for people who just plain like WRITING COMIC DIALOGUE, also like myself!  

Thank you, June Foray, for all of the wonderful characters you brought to life - in voices we will hear forever! 

17 comments:

Debbie Anne said...

June also was featured in quite a few Tom and Jerry cartoons in the mid-50's as the lady of the house (and yet another witch, in The Flying Sorceress), as well as laughing and gasping and making other sounds for Jerry Mouse when Chuck Jones took over the series from Gene Deitch in the 60's (and did a few new recordings of the maid from the original Hanna and Barbera Tom and Jerry films for TV).
She can also be heard in quite a few episodes of the Alvin Show, as Mrs. Frumpington, Daisy Bell and Buffalo Gal to name a few (the last two even ended up on the album "The Chipmunk Songbook"). She'd be back with Alvin in the 80's as Mrs. Claus in the Chuck Jones designed A Chipmunk Christmas. She also was Jokey Smurf and Mother Nature on The Smurfs. June also was in the first series episode of the Simpsons, as the manager of The Rubber Baby Buggy Bumper Babysitting Service and the operator when Lisa called Springfield's Most Wanted to report the Babysitter Bandit.
(I told you my head is full of trivia!)
We'll miss June Foray, but we'll sure have a lot to remember her by.

Adel Khan said...

Joe, I was waiting for your tribute to June Foray. She was the last link to that classic era of animation to depart. My earliest recollection was hearing her as Magica DeSpell in the original DUCKTALES at either the age of two or three.

It was not until years later I recognized her voice in the Marquis Chimps version of Cinderella in the Three Stooges compilation film STOP, LOOK, AND LAUGH. It is one of the most bizarre sources that I discovered who she was.

It elicited Rocket J. Squirrel’s phrase “That voice. Where have I heard that voice before?” I detected that one of the voices sounded eerily as Daffy Duck’s battle-axe wife “Honeybunch” in QUACKODILE TEARS (1962). I asked either my father or sister who that voice was and that was the first time I learned of who June Foray was.

In grade six when I had to write an article on the historical accuracies in MULAN. I stumbled on the IMBD page I was surprised that she was still active.

No matter what television shows, movie, or commercial it was an unexpected treat hearing June Foray. I was taken aback when viewing the BEWITCHED episode, “The Baby Talks” providing Tabatha’s voice.

As a child, I always thought she originated the roles of Granny, Mrs. Prissy, and Witch Hazel. Little did I know that she continued the voices from her stalwart Bea Benaderet. It takes a talented actor or actress to not only match a voice from her precursor but to make the role their own is a massive feat. June was successful on both counts. Throughout the nineties, while the voice artists for the major Warner were rotating there was one Granny.

Out of June’s career, her performances that stood out are the DUCKTALES episode, “Hero For Hire” I could feel the timbre of her delivery as the shrewd Ma Beagle yelling at her children. The Inspector short, “Unsafe and Seine” where she plays a woman at a pub who flirts with Sergeant Deux-Deux. She conveyed the femme fatale with a fervor that was paired perfectly with the attractive design of the character.

In fact, her pronunciation of certain words is regularly used by my father and I. When we say “marriage” it is in the same vein as Millicent in RABBIT ROMEO (1958). Her repertoire of vocal performances was diverse it’s hard to imagine that Ma Beagle and sweet Nell Fenwick was voiced by the same person.

Thank you, June to how your delightful voices have been apart of numerous childhoods.

Elaine said...

I revere the voice work of Ms. Foray, so don't take this as anything negative about her! On Feathery Society, I wrote at one point that I couldn't like any of the Classic DuckTales episodes with Magica, because I was so put off by her Russian accent. She's Italian, dammit! (Not that June Foray had any say in that choice....) One person then commented, Did someone get her mixed up with Natasha from Rocky & Bullwinkle, ha ha? I don't think he realized that the two were voiced by the same person!

Others commented that it's not a Russian accent, it's a generic European accent. Well, maybe a generic Slavic accent! Natasha and Boris the Pottsylvanians were certainly meant to be Russian stand-ins, though I don't know what the thought was about Magica. The Wikipedia page for Natasha says she speaks in a "fake-Russian accent," while the entry for Magica in the DuckTales character list says Foray uses "a similar Eastern European accent to that of Natasha Fatale from Rocky & Bullwinkle."

Marc Whinston said...

She completely changed her industry. You might even call it a Foray Transform!"

Joe Torcivia said...

You might at that, Marc… You might at that!

Though, I might give some consideration to calling it a… “Trans-FORAY-tion”!

Joe Torcivia said...

Deb and Adel:

One of the things I’d hoped to see in these comments would be all of you sharing your recollections of the many, many (…and, did I say “many”?) characters given “voice-life” by June Foray. ‘Cause I’m sure not gonna be able to do this all by myself!

Deb sez: “(I told you my head is full of trivia!)”

…Deb, ALL our heads are “…full of trivia!” It’s a pre-requisite for commenting on this Blog! …If you’re only “half full”, you *are* allowed to READ, but not COMMENT! NO trivia, at all? Just MOVE ON! Sorry, but them’s the rules!

Adel sez: “That voice. Where have I heard that voice before?”

The answer is very simple, Adel… EVERYWHERE! …And great use of one of Rocky’s classic phrases! Love it!

Joe Torcivia said...

Elaine:

Certainly, “nothing negative” taken! As a Carl Barks purist, myself, it initially struck me wrong that Magica was not characterized as Italian, as she had been in two and a half decades of comics by the time “DuckTales Classic” had begun. To some degree, it still does – and likely always will be a small burr – but I’ve become accustomed to it, and just enjoy it for what it is. And “it is” June Foray, after all!

For what it’s worth, at least for me, that was mitigated by the masterstroke of casting Flintheart Glomgold with Hal Smith’s gravelly Scottish accent. Gyro bothered me MUCH more! I always heard a more “Harvey Korman / Great Gazoo” type of “head-voice” for him. More “prissy”, and less “down-home”.

I seriously doubt that June Foray was aware of this (…or was MADE aware of this) when the decision to duplicate the “Natasha” voice for Magica was made. Perhaps the producers were either unaware or just thought that it was worth it to have June Foray (by then, a legend) as part of the semi-regular cast.

Thad Komorowski said...

June's very first animation role was for her friend Chuck Jones' "Unbearable Bear"; she's the disgruntled Mrs. Bear. Her delivery of Mrs. Bear snoring and talking in her sleep is pretty complex stuff for a beginner.

I'm not too hot on her portrayal of Magica, but as Joe wrote, that's all down to lazy line directors. I'm sure she could've concocted something more satisfying under spirited leadership, ala Sarah Berner's "Russian doing an Italian accent" as Mama Buzzard under Bob Clampett.

Joe Torcivia said...

Thad:

I just watched “The Unbearable Bear” again before commenting. Not only was it a great “rookie role” for June Foray, but (as I’ve long felt, and now reconfirmed) it is also the greatest Sniffles cartoon of all!

I think the perfect voice for Magica (even if we had to do without any Italian accent) would have been Tress MacNielle’s voice for “Cicre” (oddly, Magica’s sort of “hero”) in the excellent “DuckTales Classic” episode “Home Sweet Homer”! I guess Tress MacNielle would be the “heir apparent” to June Foray, if one must be named – as we are wont to do. She certainly is talented enough, and are HER CREDITS ever extensive!

scarecrow33 said...

I confess I was satisfied with her Magica voice, because I was delighted to find that she was still doing voices by that late date!

Here are few more of my favorites: I don't think anyone has mentioned Raggedy Ann, which character she portrayed in at least two Chuck Jones specials. And I second the reference to her voice of baby Tabatha in the "Bewitched" episode "Baby's First Paragraph", one of my all-time favorites. June also did the puppy barks for Little Ricky's dog in "I Love Lucy."

And let's not forget her substitute voice work for the HBR Records label. She did the voice of Creepella Gruesome (essentially channeling her Natasha voice) on the "Monster Shindig" album, the voice of Boo-Boo on the "Yogi Bear" album (her Boo-Boo voice was a little sub-par, but she made up for it with a dynamic performance as Little Red Riding Hood), and played one of the "meeces" (Dixie, with Pixie played by Dick Beals) on the album "Mr. Jinks Tells the Story of Cinderella".

The latter album is a real tour-de-force for June--she plays Cinderella, the Stepmother, both Step-sisters, and the Fairy Godmother. She and Paul Frees, who is the substitute voice for Jinks, play off of each other to perfection all throughout the album, especially one scene where Cinderella gets pulled over by a cop for speeding on a pumpkin. They also performed together brilliantly on the "Monster Shindig" album, while she played off Allan Melvin, another versatile voice artist, for the "Yogi Bear" album. One could complain about the fact that Daws Butler and Don Messick were not on hand for the "Mr. Jinks" "Yogi" or "Shindig" albums--but it just doesn't get any better than having Paul Frees and June Foray as fill-ins, however you look at it. It's like substituting gold with gold...or perhaps refined gold with gold that's even more refined.

In these three albums, June's amazing versatility is demonstrated to excellent effect. They provide a wonderful example of her range.

I also like how she exuded such warmth in her filmed interviews. She appeared to appreciate genuinely the enthusiasm of her fans, seemed willing and open to discuss her voice work. And in the interviews she always came across as a dear and special friend...which she was to her legions of fans.

Joe Torcivia said...

Scarecrow:

Little Ricky’s DOG? Now, *that* I gotta hear! …And, I’m sure I DID hear it over the years, without realizing!

I’m certain those records are as charming as you say, but one thing just seems odd… June Foray as Boo-Boo? Paul Frees as Mister Jinks? If they (…whomever “they” were) could afford to hire June Foray and Paul Frees (not exactly NOBODIES in the voice-acting biz), why could they not use Daws Butler and Don Messick?

I may not have liked it when “substitutes”. were used for those records – which we actually hungered-for back in those days of extremely limited media – but I understood, as least from a later perspective, why it may have been more cost-prohibitive to use the ACTUAL and authentic voice performers. …But, if you COULD use June Foray and Paul Frees – and for characters they were NOT associated with – that’s a whole different matter. Wouldn’t you say? …The strange ways things used to work back in the day sometimes boggles the modern-media-saturated-mind!

Sergio Goncalves said...

Wow. I've long known that June Foray was the voice of Granny, Witch Hazel, Jokey Smurf, Mother Nature, and other characters with which I confess to being less familiar. But y'all have taught me that she was an even bigger legend than I realized. And her voice work on Tom and Jerry makes her an even more special part of my life than I realized!

Needless to say, RIP June Foray. You'll be missed but never forgotten.

Her and Paul Frees's roles as substitutes for H-B Records is odd indeed. If Daws Butler and Don Messick had to be substituted for whatever reason, why on Earth spring for such prestigious talent? Esp. for a kids' record? It doesn't sound like a move Bill Hanna would have made... Well, gang, looks like we've got another mystery on our hands!

As to Magica de Spell's Russian accent, my guess is that a Russian accent simply sounded more menacing and sinster than an Italian accent, esp. considering that the (first) Cold War was still going on and that most DuckTales viewers wouldn't have known about Magica's Italian origins and thus wouldn't have understood the rationale for an Italian accent.

Joe Torcivia said...

Sergio:

If “DuckTales Classic” would go as far as to USE Magica at all, why not be “all-in” on the TYPE of character she was?

Then again, the series cast Glomgold as being a “fellow Scot” (…making him even MORE of an “Anti-Scrooge”) to McDuck before even Don Rosa did! And that turned out to be a nice “enhancement” of the character. Even if Barks implied it, in the three times he used Glomgold, I never noticed it. …And, in the first of those three stories, “The Second Richest Duck”, in UNCLE SCROOGE # 15 (1956), he set up Glomgold to be Scrooge’s “evil twin” in every way… so maybe the Scottish origins were also implied.

Gyro’s voice in “DuckTales Classic” rang much less true than Magica’s, for the reasons I cite above! The only possible rationale I can come up with for that is: “…He’s a CHICKEN, so let’s give him a sort of “barnyard” voice!

Debbie Anne said...

Barks may not have said so in words, but looking at Glomgold's original character design, it does seem implied that Glomgold could be Scottish like Scrooge. His hat looks stereotypically Scottish, and his walking stick looks like something someone might have used while walking in the Scottish countryside. Just as McDuck emigrated to the US, who's to say that Ol' Flinty didn't emigrate to South Africa from Scotland? (Yes, this is all speculation on my part.)

Joe Torcivia said...

Deb:

It may indeed be “all speculation” on your part, but it is VERY REASONABLE speculation!

Carl Barks appeared to position Glomgold as Scrooge’s equal-but-opposite in every way observable to the comic book reader. But, since comic books are not wired for sound (…And wouldn’t that CHANGE the entire experience if they were? I mean Gyro might REALLY have sounded like a “barnyard chicken”!), we were all left to determine Glomgold’s Scottish connection, or lack thereof, for ourselves – in the absence of any actual reference by Barks in his dialogue or narrative captions.

Though I first saw Flintheart Glomgold as what would appear to have been a typical “one-shot adversary” in the original publication of Barks’ later “So Far and No Safari” (UNCLE SCROOGE # 61 Cover Date: January, 1966), it wouldn’t be until the FIRST Gold Key reprint of “The Second Richest Duck” (UNCLE SCROOGE # 89 Cover Date: October, 1970) that I realized he was intended as more than that – let alone my discovery of Barks’ SEQUEL to that story, “The Money Champ”, in (of all places) an issue of WALT DISNEY COMICS DIGEST!

But, when I heard Flinty’s Scottish voice on “DuckTales Classic”, courtesy of Hal Smith, it made perfect sense as something Carl Barks never “filled-in” explicitly enough for it to register with me.

South Africa was a land of great natural resources and opportunity for Glomgold to amass his (perpetually second largest) fortune in relative isolation, and remain beneath Scrooge’s sometimes tunnel-visioned awareness. At least, South Africa was likely not in the news in the 1950s, when Barks created Glomgold, for the reasons it would later be – making this a well-thought-out plot element on the part of Barks.

In that vein, I often wondered if the decision on the part of “DuckTales Classic” to make Glomgold explicitly Scottish, and place his base of operations in the USA, was PRECISELY BECAUSE of the way South Africa was viewed by 1987, vs. 1956. …And yay for Disney, if so!

Regardless of the reason, the character of Flintheart Glomgold was “enhanced” by something that (for all we know) his creator may have intended all along.

TC said...

Like Adel, I was waiting for a TIAH tribute to Ms. Foray, and you did not disappoint.

And, yes, when reading a comic based on an animated cartoon, one is likely to "hear" the voice actor in the "mind's ear." Mel Blanc for Bugs and Daffy, Daws Butler for Yogi Bear, and June Foray for Rocky, Nell, Natasha, and Granny.

She will be missed, but we should be grateful for her long career and her huge body of work.

Technically, Magica should have had an Italian accent, but I was never really bothered by her Slavic accent on Duck Tales. Hollywood uses certain accents and dialects to define characters, regardless of nationality. So femmes fatales, even if not Russian or Hungarian, sound like, "Look, Boris dahlink! Iss moose and squorrel!"

Similarly, gangsters have Brooklyn accents, and rural/rustic characters (farmers, sheriffs) have Southern accents. (On Bob Newhart's 1980's sitcom, the redneck character Larry had a Southern accent, although the show was set in New England. Conversely, on the old Andy Griffith Show, state troopers usually had New York accents, although the series was set in North Carolina.)

I think a Don Rosa story may have described Glomgold as a Boer (Dutch ancestry), but, afair, Barks was never specific. His headgear, a tam o' shanter, hints at Scottish descent, and I know of no reason why Flintheart could not have gone from Scotland to South Africa to mine for gold.

And of course, as with Appalachian for a "country bumpkin," Slavic for a seductive villainess, and Brooklyn for a gangster, a Scottish accent is cartoon shorthand for a greedy miser.

Joe Torcivia said...

Thank you for the kind words, TC!

I don’t have the precise dates, but my recollections have “DuckTales Classic” and Don Rosa’s debut story “Son of the Sun”, which featured Flintheart Glomgold, first appearing at about the same time in 1987.

Therefore, neither could have influenced the other in making Glomgold a Scot. Probably just a twin-coincidence… or “co-twin-cidence”, if you will.

Funny about that “voices/comics thing”, it just kicks in automatically, and always has. It makes the reading experience all the richer!