June Foray, who voiced the titular flying squirrel in the Rocky and Bullwinkle franchise, died on Wednesday. She was 99.
Dave Nimitz, a close friend of Foray, announced the news on Facebook. “She is resting peacefully now with her beloved sister Geri and Sam her brother-in-law,” he wrote. “I’m going out of my mind with the loss and losing all three of them within the last month-and-a-half, but they’re in a better place now. Truly cherish my time with June and in the family for the last 14 years.”
Born Sep. 18, 1917, in Springfield, Massachusetts, Foray also voiced the Rocky and Bullwinkle villain Natasha Fatale from the duo Boris and Natasha, as well as a trove of other animated characters. Grandmother Fa in Disney’s Mulan, Granny on Sylvester and Tweety, Witch Hazel on Looney Tunes, Aunt May in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends from the 1980s, and even Lucifer the cat in Disney’s Cinderella are all her characters, among hundreds more.
She reprised the voice of Rocky throughout the franchise, as well as for an episode of Family Guy and a short film attached to the Mr. Peabody & Sherman Blu-ray.
“On behalf of ASIFA-Hollywood, which June was a founder of, we are mourning the passing of animation’s best friend,” Jerry Beck, president of ASIFA, said in a statement. “She has touched so many lives — her voice was so many classic cartoon characters — 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 trail blazer, a great talent, and a truly wonderful person. We will never forget her.”
Another notch on Foray’s legacy is the Annie Awards, recognizing achievements in animation. “We had dancing,” she recalled of the first 1972 ceremony. “We had a live orchestra and everybody was just enthralled. It was something that had never happened before, especially here in Los Angeles. Maybe at the film festivals in Europe they had things like that, but we never had anything in Los Angeles, and here we are, the hub of animation. So it was extremely encouraging.”