- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 27, 2017

June Foray, an accomplished voice actor perhaps best known for voicing Rocky the Squirrel in the 1960s cartoon series “Rocky and Bullwinkle,” has died, Variety reported Wednesday. She would have turned 100 years old in September.

According to her Internet Movie Database (IMdB) profile, Foray boasted 308 acting credits to her name in a Hollywood career that spans back to 1943. Her last acting credit was a reprise of her Rocky the Squirrel role in a 2014 animated short.

Foray was instrumental in pushing Hollywood to respect the artistic contributions of the animated side of the motion-picture and television industries, Variety said. Instrumental in starting the Annie Awards to recognize artistic talent in the animated arts, she was a founding member of ASIFA-Hollywood, a Burbank-based nonprofit that works to “promote and encourage the art and craft of animation.”

“[W]e are mourning the passing of animation’s best friend,” ASIFA-Hollywood president Jerry Beck said Thursday in a statement posted on the group’s Facebook page. “She has touched so many lives — her voice was so many classic cartoon characters — her efforts to create Asifa, to maintain the Academy’s Oscar for Best Animated Short — and her leadership in crafting the category of Best Animated Feature. She was one of a kind. A trail blazer, a great talent and a truly wonderful person. We will never forget her.”

Foray got her start at just 12 years of age, lending her voice to drama programs at her local radio station, Variety said. She continued her work in show business after her family moved to Los Angeles, appearing on various network shows including the “Jimmy Durante Show.”

Foray broke into voicing cartoons in the 1950s, with her role as Lucifer the cat in the 1950 Disney animated feature “Cinderella,” Variety said.

Other cartoon characters she famously voiced included Granny in the Sylvester the Cat cartoons, Natasha from “Rocky and Bullwinkle” and Grandmother Fa in 1998’s Disney feature “Mulan.”

But other fans might best remember her for being the creepy voice of “Talky Tina,” a murderous doll in a 1963 episode of “The Twilight Zone.”

Foray got that gig because she had been the original voice for popular 1950s toy doll “Chatty Cathy,” she said in an interview recorded years ago for the Archive of American Television. And it long remained a role of hers that threw plenty of people for a loop.

“I felt so privileged working on that,” Foray said in the interview. “It’s apparently a very favorite episode among a lot of people and when I tell them I’m ‘Talky Tina,’ [they reply] ‘Are you really that bad?’ Yes I was, but not personally.”

“I love everything I do with all of the parts that I do because there’s a little bit of me in all of them,” Foray once said, according to her IMdB profile. “We all have anger and jealousy and love and hope in our natures. We try to communicate that vocally with just sketches that you see on the screen and make it come alive and make it human.”

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