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Voice Actress June Foray Dies At 99 (Photos)

| by Michael Howard
Flowers on casketFlowers on casket

June Foray, the prolific voice actress best known for voicing Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Natasha Fatale on "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show," has passed away at the age of 99, less than two months before her 100th birthday.

The actress' death was confirmed on Facebook by her friend Dave Nimitz.

"With a heavy heart again I want to let you all know that we lost our little June today at 99 years old," he wrote, according to Variety.

Foray was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, on Sept. 18, 1917. She performed voice work on the radio as a teenager. After graduating from high school, she moved to Los Angeles with her family, where she hosted her own radio show called "Lady Make Believe."

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"I had wanted to be on the stage," she once said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "But the radio intrigued me even at 12, so when I was 15, I had the hubris to go to the radio station and say, 'Look, I’m a good actress and I can do all these parts. Will you let me join your drama group?' And they did."

She got her big break when Disney contacted her and asked her to voice a cat.

"Well, I could do anything," Foray said in an interview with Variety. "So he hired me as Lucifer the cat in 'Cinderella,' and then I started to work for Disney."

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Known as the "first lady of voice acting," Foray provided the voice for hundreds of animated characters throughout her career, including Granny in the "Tweety and Sylvester" show, Witch Hazel in Looney Tunes shorts, Nell from "Dudley Do-Right," and Cindy Lou Who from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Foray was also one of the original members of the animation organization ASIFA-Hollywood and played a role in creating the Best Animated Feature category at the Academy Awards.

ASIFA President Jerry Beck issued the following statement, according to Variety:

On behalf of ASIFA-Hollywood, of which June was a founder, we are mourning the passing of animation’s best friend. She has touched so many lives: with her voice that of so many classic cartoon character, 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 trailblazer, a great talent and a truly wonderful person. We will never forget her.

The Annie Award, which honors excellence in the field of animation, is considered Foray's brainchild. In 1995 the Annies created an award in Foray's honor that recognizes individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to animation.

Foray continued to work into her 90s.

"I’m still going," she told Variety in 2013. "It keeps you thinking young. My body is old, but I think the same as I did when I was 20 years old."

Foray was married to Bernard Barondess from 1941 to 1945, and to Hobart Donavan from 1954 until his death in 1976. She did not have any children.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter / Photo Credits: Don LaVange/Flickr, WireImage via Daily Mail, Daily Mail

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