Saturday 1 April 2023

Hens, A Witch and Fertilizer

What’s that, you say? I haven’t written about June Foray for a while?

Yes, you’re right.

If you’re akin to me, whenever you hear her voice, happiness and maybe even excitement pours over you, and you exclaim “It’s June Foray!” A simple pleasure in life, it is, but a pleasure nonetheless. I’ve always liked her work.

I unexpectedly caught her on a broadcast of the Henry Morgan variety show on ABC which emanated from the West Coast (Morgan was based in New York). She wasn’t credited, but you can’t miss June Foray.

Here’s an article on her we haven’t passed along before. It’s from the July 9, 1959 edition of the Valley Times. This is around the time Jay Ward was plying her with martinis to convince her to be part of the cast of a cartoon series in the works about a moose and squirrel. It sums up much of her career to date, though it skips past her work on radio with Steve Allen and on television with Johnny Carson, before both of them became huge TV stars.

Tiny Actress In Big Voice Roles

The radio script called for several men’s voices and several women’s voices, so the producer called for several men but only one woman.
She was June Foray of Woodland Hills, an unusually talented actress who easily can produce the voices for any age-any type female any age-any character for which the script might call.
As an example of her artistry, Miss Foray once conducted a three-minute conversation with herself on radio and did such an able job that the listeners never even suspected that they weren’t listening to two women.
It's rather incongruous to imagine a big, screeching voice of a hideous old witch coming from a woman as tiny as Miss Foray, who, if she emerged soaking wet from her new swimming pool, wouldn’t weigh 100 pounds.
Yet, she can accurately mimic sounds ranging from sultry Tahitian beauties to friendly cats, such as she’s doing now, furnishing the voice for “Clementine, the talking cat,” in Jerry Lewis’s new Paramount picture, "Visit to a Small Planet."
Through another of her movie accomplishments, Miss Foray has endeared herself to movie-goers with her portrayal of “Granny” in the Warner Brothers cartoon series, “Tweety.”
Dabbles In Paint
Miss Foray loves to dabble with oil paints in doing portraits and with house paints as she and her writer-husband, Hobart Donovan, portray do-it-yourselfers around their new Woodland Hills home. She began her professional career as a child radio actress in her home town of Springfield, Mass.
Coming to Hollywood, Miss Foray met Donovan, whom she married in 1955 when he was producer-writer-director of the popular NBC “Smilin’ Ed McConnell” radio show in 1945.
Then followed weekly live performances for seven years with the Smilin’ Ed show, during which time Miss Foray did all the female parts, sharing the microphone with Hans Conreid [sic], William Conrad, John Dehner and Marvin Miller, among others.
Five-Year Contract
Signing a five-year contract with Capitol records, lending her talents to those of Mel Blanc, Stan Freberg, Daws Butler, and Pinto Colvig, the voice for "Goofy, Miss Foray continued her interesting career which includes appearances on the radio programs of Bob Hope, Jimmy Durante and the late Fanny Brice.
It was during her stay with Capitol that she did all the female voices on Stan Freberg’s recording of “St. George and the Dragonette.”
Miss Foray’s talents constantly are in demand for radio and TV commercials and she has worked for the Disney Studios in such features as “Cinderella,” in which she portrayed “Lucifer, the Cat,” and in “Peter Pan,” doing the parts of the old Indian squaw and two of the three mermaids.
Owns Pets
Since she does so many impersonations of cats and dogs in her work, it’s only natural that she owns a cat and two dogs.
“Our cat is a very independent ‘Thomas’ named Henry,” Miss Foray said. “One of the dogs is a dachshund named Katrina, and the other is a great big champion mongrel named Mulligan. We call him Mulligan because he’s such a delightful mixture. My husband and I just love him.”
And the public just loves Miss Foray, because she’s such a delightful mixture of the voices it knows so well.

A very brief look at some newspaper stories for 1959 reveals Foray voiced a mouse in a Shirley Temple Storybook episode, voiced Adam Cain on 77 Sunset Strip, provided voices for some Red Cross public service announcements, and looped dialogue for a heroine with the wrong accent on Rawhide (at $150 for two hours). There were several voices for Bar-Sep Productions’ The Sun Sets in Hell. June was part of the English-language dubbing team for the Russian animated feature The Snow Queen.

She found time to appear on You Asked For It and on the local L.A. TV Red Rowe Show. Oh, and she was also involved with the Hollywood Chapter of AFTRA.

Then there were commercials. Let’s find out about one campaign from The Hollywood Reporter of Jan. 29, 1959. The column on the right is from Broadcasting magazine, May 18, 1959.

IT ISN’T THE PRINCIPLE—IT’S THE MONEY OF THE THING . . . There’s been plenty of amused comment re that anonymous, sultry-sexy voice on radio’s Bandini fertilizer commercials . . . But this doesn’t bother June Foray (yep, it’s she) who’s even more amused at actors who “snobbishly” turn down blurb offers . . . Actually, June has turned down straight thesping roles, rather than lose a blurb commitment . . . Reason? . . . “Money!” says the petite 95-pounder, “And when acting ceases to be a business, I’ll get out of it! I rarely make less than four figures for a filmed TV commercial, just a couple of hundred for three days week on a drama . . . And yet some actors I know, many of them momentarily strapped, actually instruct their agents never to submit them for commercial jobs!”
June points to Stan Freberg, Mel Blanc and Gloria Wood as three examples of performers who’ve gained, rather than lost, dignity from their blurb chores . . . “All of us can spot the ‘actor’ who’s grudgingly accepted a blurb job. His condescending air is bad enough but his deaf ear is too much—this on a one-minute commercial that many times costs as much as a half-hour film! . . . As for ‘name’ stars who fear loss of prestige, what the difference between a printed endorsement with their picture in a magazine ad and a spoken product-push on air?” . . . Parting June Jab: “For my first radio commercial, I got five dollars and all the cod liver oil I could drink—Now I can buy my own cod liver oil and even pick up the tab for the boys in the back room!”

What about Warner Bros. cartoons released in 1959 (remember, voice sessions could have been done a year earlier)?

Apes of Wrath, directed by Friz Freleng

Really Scent, directed by Abe Levitow

A Broken Leghorn, directed by Bob McKimson

A Witch's Tangled Hare, directed by Abe Levitow

Unnatural History, directed by Abe Levitow

Tweet Dreams, directed by Friz Freleng

People Are Bunny, directed by Bob McKimson

Oh, yes, we referred to a moose and squirrel cartoon show that debuted in 1959. Here’s an all-too-short interview where June talks about it.


  1. I just recently saw June providing the uncredited voice of baby Tabitha Stevens in Bewitched (season 2's "Baby's First Paragraph"; also Alice Pearce's last appearance).

  2. R.I.P. June, you will always remain the best voice actress ever. 😭