June Foray, an animated TV legend who was the voice behind Rocky the flying squirrel, from “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show,” died Thursday at the wise age of 99.
Foray set the standard of the animated TV voice, landing iconic gigs such as “Looney Tunes'” Witch Hazel, Nell from “Dudley Do-Right,” Granny in Saturday morning must-see “Tweety and Sylvester,” and Cindy-Lou Who in Chuck Jones’ Christmas classic, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
Foray’s close friend confirmed her death via Facebook, stating, “With a heavy heart again I want to let you all know that we lost our little June today at 99 years old.”
June was the first lady to make a Hollywood career solely of voice acting and served as one of the founding members of Hollywood animation organization ASIFA (International Animated Film Association). She was the brains behind the creation of the annual Annie Awards for voice actors and is credited as being the driving force for the implementation of the Oscars’ animated feature category.
In the 1970s, Foray sought to make her mark on the burgeoning award show scene, noting it failed to recognize the merits of animated voice actors.
“I was thinking that there were the Grammys, the Tonys, the Oscars, but nobody recognizes animation,” Foray told Variety magazine.
Leaders in the animated films industry responded to Foray’s death accordingly.
“We are all saddened by the news of June’s passing,” said ASIFA-Hollywood executive director Frank Gladstone, who noted that she would have celebrated her 100th birthday in September. “Although it didn’t come as a shock, it has really taken us back a bit.”
Recently-elected Academy board member and animation veteran, Tom Sito said of Foray: “She was a mainstay of the animation community in Hollywood and the queen of voice talent.”
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