Ever wonder who provides the many and varied voices for the animated characters we see in cartoons? There are a number of actors doing voice-over work, of course, but few are as versatile as June Foray.
For nearly 40 years Foray has done voices for everything from Disney features to Warner Bros. shorts to Saturday morning cartoons, and currently can be heard in no fewer than four TV series - "Smurfs," "Gummi Bears" and "Slimer & the Real Ghostbusters" on Saturday mornings, along with the daily "Duck Tales." She also did two characters in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit."But Foray is still perhaps best known for a TV series from the early '60s that is still being rerun in Salt Lake City, "Rocky and His Friends," which later became "The Bullwinkle Show." Foray was Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Bullwinkle Moose's straightman, as well as the evil spy Natasha Fatale, and various other characters.
"Rocky and Bullwinkle" was created by Jay Ward, and a program of some of Ward's best humorous pieces, including "Rocky and Bullwinkle," "Fractured Fairy Tales," "Fractured Flickers," "Dudley Do-Right," "George of the Jungle," etc., will play during the United States Film Festival in Park City.
Foray will introduce the Friday morning program.
"Jay is a very private man," Foray said, explaining why Ward himself would not be in attendance. "He's full of fun and fantastic ideas, a very perceptive man and a very sophisticated man. Years ago he was very dauntless and would do anything to get some PR for the show, but now he's matured and done all of this. He has his race horses and his kids and grandkids."
Foray said her becoming a voice actress was the natural evolution of her childhood love of acting. As a youngster she used to bark at all the dogs in the neighborhood, and she was still a child when she became a professional. "I was doing radio by the time I was 12, and when I was 17 I wrote and acted in a 15-minute show three times a week called `Lady Make-Believe.' "
Eventually she went to Capitol Records to do some voice work and there met two other voice actors, Stan Freberg and Daws Butler, who would go on to achieve fame in their own rights.
Shortly thereafter she was asked by Disney to do animated characters and before she knew it, "I had inadvertently become a voice-over actress."
One thing literally led to another, as with a raspy-voiced witch she did in a Donald Duck Halloween cartoon. "Chuck Jones over at Warner's saw the `Witch Hazel' short and in 1954 called me to do `Broomstick Bunny,' so I did Witch Hazel over there too. Then Fritz Freleng (also at Warner's) asked me to do Granny in the `Tweetie & Sylvester' cartoons, and I was doing a lot of little old ladies after that.
It was in 1958 that Foray was introduced to Jay Ward, who outlined his "Rocky and His Friends" concept. She expressed an interest, and they did a pilot TV program to try to sell it to a network. Foray said she had virtually forgotten about it a year later when she got a call from her agent. "He said, `Remember that fellow that took you to lunch - Jay Ward? Well, they're ready to go.' "
Many of the shows Foray has worked on have come and gone, but "Rocky" and "Bullwinkle" have maintained a remarkable popularity.
"The Saturday morning things are just for children," she explained. " `Bullwinkle' was directed the way the Warner's cartoons were done. Whatever made Jay laugh we went with. There was no condescension. It was like two plateaus - children liked the action and the look of the characters, the concept and the voices, but it was the parents who got the jokes. Now those kids are older and they get the jokes too. I guess we've corrupted another generation."
Foray said she appreciates that some of the shows she works on, "Smurfs," "Gummi Bears" and "Duck Tails," attempt some education value in the stories they tell, but she concedes that these are still shows made strictly for children.
Egyptian: "Powwow Highway," 10 a.m.; "84 Charlie Mopic," 1 p.m.; "Heathers," 4 p.m.; "Two-Lane Blacktop," 7 p.m.; "Thelonious Monk," 10 p.m.
Holiday I: "Salute to Jay Ward," 10:30 a.m.; "Morgan's Cake," 1:30 p.m.; "Motel," 4:30 p.m.; "La Ofrenda," 7:30 p.m.; "Rogues Gallery," 10:30 p.m.
Holiday II: "The Tempest," 10:15 a.m.; "Apartment Zero," 1:15 p.m.; "Let's Get Lost," 4:15 p.m.; "sex, lies and videotape," 7:15 p.m.; "Clownhouse," 10:15 p.m.
Holiday III: "Letters from the Park," 10 a.m.; "That's Adequate," 1 p.m.; "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie," 4 p.m.; "Of Men and Angels," 7 p.m.; "Shadows," 10 p.m.
Prospector: "Cheap Shots," 10 a.m.; "Lodz Ghetto," 1 p.m.; "True Love," 4 p.m.; "The Big Dis," 7 p.m.; "Heavy Petting," 10 p.m.
Elks Building: Seminar: "Video Presales," 4 p.m.
Sundance: "Miracle Mile," 7 p.m.
Egyptian: "Prisoners of Inertia," 10 a.m.; "sex, lies and videotape," 4 p.m.; "The Big Picture," 4 p.m.; "Heathers," 7 p.m.; "Miracle Mile," 10 p.m.
Holiday I: "One A.M." & "A Day's Pleasure," 10:30 a.m.; "Isadora Duncan," 1:30 p.m.; "Salute to Jay Ward, Program II," 4:30 p.m.; "Coming Out" & "Coverup," 7:30 p.m.; "Motel," 10:30 p.m.
Holiday II: "The Laserman," 10:15 a.m.; "The Summer of Miss Forbes," 1:15 p.m.; "Comic Book Confidential," 4:15 p.m.; "True Love," 7:15 p.m.; "Love Streams," 10:15 p.m.
Holiday III: "Husbands," 10 a.m.; "Some Girls," 1 p.m.; "Lodz Ghetto," 4 p.m.; "Apartment Zero," 7 p.m.; "Funny," 10 p.m.
Prospector: "Journey to Spirit Island," 10 a.m.; Seminar: "Have Independents Lost Their Social Conscience?" 1 p.m.; "84 Charlie Mopic," 4 p.m.; "Dead Man Out," 7 p.m.; "Heavy Petting," 10 p.m.
Sundance: "Powwow Highway," 7 p.m.