June Foray Interview
(Voice of Rocky, the flying squirrel)
Here is the voice that
launched a thousand characters including Lena Hyena in Roger Rabbit, Fairy Queen
in Thumbelina, Ma Beagle in Ducktales, Grammi Gummi Granny in the Sylvester and
Tweety mysteries, Mama Brickolini for Lego Land, Grandma Fa in The Legend of
But, most people identify her as the voice of Rocky, the flying squirrel, Natasha,
Nell, fairy godmothers, witches, and princesses on Bullwinkle and Ursula-George
of the Jungle.
T.V. shows such as Entertainment Tonight, Extra, Show Biz Today, Joan Rivers,
Maury Povich, Robin Leach, CBS, NBC, and ABC have all done profiles of her.
Because of her fame as a voice actress and her long-standing love for animation,
she has been invited to speak on this art form all over the world -- Russia,
France, Croatia, Japan, England, Australia, New Zealand, and of course all across
We're pleased to present a rather unique interview, with a rather unique individual,
Ms. June Foray.
Q: June, at what age did you discover you could throw your
voice or come up with different sounding character voices?
A: When I was about six. My mother and father were artistic people. My mother
was a singer and a pianist. They enjoyed the opera and the theater and movies.
And so they would take us kids to all of the wonderful functions at the Bijou
Theater in Springfield, Massachusetts. I wanted to be a stage actress. Then
I could come home and impersonate all these people I had seen in the movies.
I was an omnivorous reader as well. So, I memorized a lot of classics. The
little old lady that I do actually with Tweety and Sylvester, I memorized lines
from "The Old Woman Shows Her Medals." If s a play by James M. Barri. Oh my
goodness, I just did so many impersonations of stars, and read Shakespeare
and Oscar Wilde and "The
Importance of Being Ernest." It was a very exciting life
Q: There really is no type of training for what you do is
there? You just do it.
A: Well, I think its inherent in you, when you're born. However, my mother
and father finally did hire some wonderful teachers. At 12 years old, the best
teacher I had Mrs. Larson said, "I can't teach you anymore, you're much more
versatile than I." But, she had a radio show and so I was on her radio show
when I was 12. Then when I was 15 I became a professional actress, in radio.
Q: You were born in what city?
A: Springfield, Massachusetts.
Q: And you made your way to Los Angeles eventually?
A: My mother and father came to Los Angeles.
Q: You got work in radio there?
A: Yes, and I started writing children's stories as well when I as 19,20 and
21. As a matter of fact, five of them are out on radio cassette right now. "Tall
and Small Tales" by June Foray. I narrate and I wrote them. They were charming,
innocent fantasy stories, that I wrote when I was very young.
Q: This is a brand new release?
A: Yes. It's out at Borders bookshops. It's also on the Internet. I had recorded
six for Ted Turner and they sent me a $10.00 advance, however, the option
ran out because Time-Warner bought Turner, and most of the people there were
let go, because of the new organization. So, I own them again and can keep
the $10,000. (Laughs) I have some people who might be interested in animating
some of them or publish them as books instead of simply audio cassettes.
Q: Since you are billed as star of stage, t.v. and film, what
t.v. shows and movies did you appear in?
A: I'd been on camera with Johnny Carson. I did 13 weeks with Johnny Carson.
Q: What did you do with him?
A: We just did a marvelous variety show. That's before he became The Tonite
Show host. It was called Carson's Cellar. I was on it every week, doing funny
bits and solo bits, and crazy commercial. It was fun doing that. The last
thing I did on camera was Green Acres. I played a little Mexican girl in
that. I was very funny.
Q: Can you name some of the stars you met in radio in the
A: Oh, Vincent Price, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Jimmy Durante, Danny Thomas.
Q: What do you think of the Beavis and Butthead show? I'm
talking about their characters and voices.
A: You're putting me on the spot.
A: I thought their movie was great. I was surprised. I was amazed. The movie
had a good story line. The animation was good. So, I can't criticize them
Q: Now, I would've thought it was a man doing the voice of
Rocky, not a woman.
A: I know.
Q: Just as I would've thought it was a man doing the voice
of Bart Simpson, not a woman. How does the selection process work? Did both
men and women audition for this voice part of Rocky?
A: No, I had already been working at Disney and Warner Bros, doing a multiplicity
of voices. Jay Ward and Bill Scott had this wonderful idea of a moose and a
squirrel. My agent called and said, "Have you ever heard of Jay Ward?" and
I said "no." He said, "Well, he wants to take you to lunch." So I met Bill
and Jay at a restaurant on La Cienega Blvd that is no longer in existence.
However, Jay know precisely whom he wanted. He didn't want anybody else. So,
nobody ever auditioned for Jay. He just said, "I want June Foray." He knew
precisely what he wanted.
Q: I would imagine that if s a pretty crowded field today.
A: Yes. Everybody wants to do voice-overs. It pays well. Of course, there are
innumerable series on now of animation. Unfortunately, some of the stars
are coming in. I don't care anymore, although I'm still working. But, some
of the people that's all they do is voice-overs. They don't have the background
of the years that I've had. They've got to build up to that. Then, the stars
who are making a lot of money on camera are coming in and going some of the
voices. And, I feel sad about that.
Q: How long of a day did you have to put in when you were
doing the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show?
A: Oh, we didn't spend over 2 hours recording because we would do 5 segments
in a night or late afternoon. Jay wanted to keep his office hours in the daytime,
so we usually recorded about 5 or 6, and we just stayeffor2hours. We would
do5Bullwinkles in one session, or 5 Fractured Fairy Tales. Or 5 Dudley Do-Rights.
You know they were only 3 minutes and 10 seconds or 3 minutes and 15 seconds.
Most of the time was taken up kidding around and laughing and having a good
time. And then Jay would say, "Well, I guess we better start recording." And
so, it didn't take us very long.
Q: Are you surprised that the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show didn't
enjoy a longer t.v. run? It was quite popular eern in the beginning, wasn't
A: Yes. It was amazing that it didn't become a cult the way it is now. But,
people who were young and listening to it, are listening to it again, realizing
the sophistication and the brilliance of the writing. It was a happy marriage
between the concept and the writing and the acting. The animation of course
was extremely simple.
Q: Are you receiving royalties from the Rocky and Bullwinkle
A: No. It was a buy-out. We didn't realize at the time it would be like this,
otherwise we wouldn't have sold it out. It was a buy-out for six plays, and
that was it. My God, it's so popular, it's even going into Europe. I got fan
mail from Germany! It's incredible.
Q: You travel all over the world lecturing. What do you talk
A: I talk about animation, and my career in animation, and the success that
animation has finally become. Instead of being second class citizens in this
world of show budiness, we are now attaining a dignity that should have been
affording us many years ago.
© Gary James All Rights Reserved