June Foray, the iconic voice of Rocky and Natasha in the popular and memorable “Rocky and Bullwinkle Show,” died on Wednesday. She was 99.
Foray got her start in voice work at age 12, when she performed on a local radio drama. She voiced characters in film and TV for decades in a pioneering career.
Known as the “Cartoon Queen,” she’s most famous for her voicings of Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Natasha Fatale on the “Rocky” cartoon show.
“The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show” dished out satire and humor that was appreciated by adults as well as kids.
It was a topical show when it ran from 1959 to 1964, during the height of the Cold War.
Characters included Rocket J. Squirrel and his sidekick, Bullwinkle the Moose, squaring off with Russian spy foes Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, and they are famous to this day among baby boomers who were glued to their TVs during the ’60s.
Foray said Rocky was her favorite role.
“I admired the people who wrote it, who performed with me, and who produced it, and so I love it,” she said.
Her death was first announced on Facebook by her close friend Dave Nimitz and was confirmed by the International Animated Film Society.
“With a heavy heart again I want to let you all know that we lost our little June today,” Nimitz wrote. “She is resting peacefully now.”
Voice actors, including Bob Bergen, the current voice of Porky Pig, heaped praise on Foray and her vibrant life on social media.
Foray, whose real name was June Lucille Forer, was born on September 18, 1917, in Springfield, Massachusetts, according to IMDB.
At 17, Foray moved to Los Angeles to pursue her career, and in 1950, she landed the role of Lucifer the Cat in “Cinderella.” Her versatile and comic style helped land her both male and female animation roles; Rocky, for example, spoke with a cheery young boy’s voice and Natasha’s lines were deep and husky.
Foray also helped launch the Hollywood chapter of the International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood, in the 1960s with other animation professionals, including producer Les Goldman, animator Bill Littlejohn and animator Carl Bell.
At age 94, Foray won an Emmy for her role as Mrs. Cauldron on “The Garfield Show,” making her the oldest entertainer to win the award, according to an obituary released by the society.
She was also awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2000, the society said.
Foray continued to work late in life, reprising her role as Rocky in director Gary Trousdale’s short “Rocky and Bullwinkle,” released by DreamWorks Animation in 2014. In a 2013 interview with Variety, Foray said: “I’m still going. It keeps you thinking young. My body is old, but I think the same as I did when I was 20 years old.”
Foray is credited with coming up with the idea for the Annie Awards, which started out as a dinner honoring the year’s best in animation in 1972, and she presided over what has become a gala event in the animation industry every year since. The Annies created a juried award named for Foray in 1995 that honors individuals who have made significant or benevolent contributions to the art and industry of animation, and she was its first recipient.