June Foray, the Annie Awards founder who voiced Rocky the Flying Squirrel from the iconic animated series The Bullwinkle Show, has died, two months shy of her centenary. Dave Nimitz, a close friend of Foray, confirmed her death on Facebook, writing, “With a heavy heart again I want to let you all know that we lost our little June today at 99 years old.” The cause of death has yet to be announced.
Foray was born September 18, 1917 in Springfield, MA. At 12 years old, her vocal talents landed her first job in a local radio drama and by age 15, she was doing regular radio voice work.
In addition to Rocky, Foray voiced Natasha from the series as well as many other classic animated characters including Looney Tunes’ Witch Hazel, Nell from Dudley Do-Right Granny from the Tweety and Sylvester cartoons, Cindy Lou Who How the Grinch Stole Christmas as well as Mother Magoo in the Mister Magoo series. She also provided the voice of the demonic doll Talky Tina in an episode of The Twilight Zone titled “Living Doll” in 1963. Her performance as Mrs. Cauldron on The Garfield Show earned her a Daytime Emmy in 2012.
On the big-screen, she provided the voice of Lucifer the Cat in Cinderella as well as a mermaid in Peter Pan. She worked well into the 21st century, reprising her role as Rocky in 2000’s The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle starring Robert De Niro and can be heard in the 2014 DreamWorks short Rocky and Bullwinkle.
A trailblazer in voice-over work, Foray was the mind behind the Annie Awards, which recognizes achievements in animation. The event started as a dinner in 1972 and grew into a gala that still takes place today. In 1995, the Annies created a juried award named after Foray that recognizes individuals who have made significant or benevolent contributions to the art and industry of animation, and she was its first recipient.
She was an avid supporter of animation and tirelessly lobbied to have animated films recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. A documentary about her life, The One and Only June Foray, was produced in 2013.
Foray was married to Bernard Barondess from 1941 to 1945. She was then married to writer and director Hobart Donavan, from 1954 until his death in 1976.