If there was anyone on the face of the Earth who could possibly have the distinction of winning an Emmy award for the first time at age 94, it would be June Foray.
And she did it tonight.
She won for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program.
One would think that she would have been nominated long before this. After all, her career pre-dates the Emmys. It even pre-dates network television, considering her years on radio. The trouble is she’s a voice-over artist, working off-camera in commercials and guesting with cartoon ensembles, and that doesn’t really fit any of the Emmy categories.
There is no possible way you have spent your life without hearing June’s voice. Interestingly, her roles that everyone remembers today are not found in a nice little biography in an Associated Press story of November 3, 1967—Witch Hazel for at least two cartoon studios; Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Natasha and Nell Fenwick for the Jay Ward studios; Talky Tina on “The Twilight Zone.” Oh, and Cindy Lou Who in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” I’m sure you have your own favourites.
Remarkable Vocal Range
June Foray Specializes In Dubbing For Babies, Birds, Stars - Witches, Too
By GENE HANDSAKER
HOLLYWOOD (AP) – She’s a tiny thing, with auburn hair, sparkling eyes and a remarkable vocal range—for babies and birds to sexy dames, doting grandmas and cackling witches.
For 20 years a frequent cry from Hollywood producers with feminine-voice problems has been, “Get June Foray.”
She earns $250 an hour and 11 probably Hollywood’s top woman practitioner of the obscure trade listed in her modest 2 lines in the Motion Picture Almanac: voice specialist.
Good On Imitations
Ann Sheridan died before she could rerecord dialogue for her last television show that extraneous noises had ruined in the sound track.
Miss Foray, after listening carefully to Miss Sheridan’s voice, did the rerecording matching the words to Ann’s lip movements.
“Sometimes the producer will add dialogue after the star has gone, say, to Europe,” said June. “It’s cheaper and quicker to have me do it than bring her back.
“And a lot of young actresses whom I can’t mention do a lousy job and they call me in to pull them out of the soup by replacing their voices. How did they get the job in the first place? Because they look good.”
Its Constant Effort
On a “Rawhide” she rerecorded the entire dialogue of one week’s guest star. It taxes Miss Foray, who works almost constantly, to remember all the voices she supplies, especially in television.
“I’m Axis Sally in ‘12 O’clock High,’ Knothead and Splinter on ‘Woody Woodpecker,’ and I’m all over the dial on the Saturday cartoon shows.”
Her voice changes as she describes various roles: “I do French girls, Cockney accents, Svenska, and ah do Suth’n dialects.”
The secret is “having a good ear and flexible vocal cords.”
Born in Springfield, Mass., Miss Foray came to Hollywood with her parents at 17 and started a local radio show, writing and playing all the parts, then graduated to network radio.
She lives in suburban Woodland Hills with her writer husband, Hobart Donavan; two terrifying friendly great Danes weighing a combined 345 pounds and a withdrawn, 14-year-old cat named Henry.
Miss Foray supplies nearly all the witches’ voices used in Hollywood. Pat Buttram once asked her to do one over the telephone when he had a local radio program.
“When I got through doing that cackling, hee-hee-hee voice,” she recalls, “there were 15 people standing around the phone booth wondering what this nut was doing.”
When you think of June, you don t think of her subbing in for other actors. The TV Scout column of October 10, 1960 revealed she did it for Sherry Jackson in a episode of “Surfside Six” to make the character sound sexier. Here’s another Associated Press piece from January 24, 1960.
Seldom-Seen Actress Gets Top Salary
By JAMES BACON
AP Movie-TV Writer
HOLLYWOOD (AP)—One of the best paid actresses in Hollywood is seldom seen on the screen.
She is attractive June Foray, who dubs voices for other actresses—sometimes the leading lady.
In one film, a well known actress was cast opposite a deep-voiced male star.
“When the picture was completed,” June recalls, “the producers found that audiences would have laughed the leading lady right out of the theater. Her voice was way too high and squeaky for the lower registers of the male star.
“I was called in to dub the whole picture.”
June makes plenty from movies and television but her biggest income is from commercials on radio.
“I make as much for a half hour’s work on a radio commercial as I could for a full day’s work as a visible actress,” she says. “Sure, it does something to your ego but when those residual checks start coming in every time the commercial is replayed, your ego is soothed so nicely.
“At those prices, I can’t afford to be seen on the screen."
You can read a couple of other old newspaper stories about her HERE and HERE.
In honour of June’s Emmy win, here she is in an interview with the Archive of American Television, in snippets discussing her career. There are 11 of them; I hope they’ll play one after the other.