June Foray, the voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel in “The Bullwinkle Show” is dead at the age of 99. She also played the voice of Cold War Russian spy Natasha Fatale (partner to the nefarious Boris).
Popularly known as “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show,” the animated series “The Bullwinkle Show” first aired on November 19, 1959 under the original title “Rocky and His Friends.” The show ran for five seasons, and the title was changed to “The Bullwinkle Show” for the last three seasons. The show has been labeled other names for syndication and DVD, such as “The Rocky Show” and “The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends.”
“The Bullwinkle Show” appealed to adults as well as kids for its satirical humor and subtle political jokes. Famous bits in the series included “Fractured Fairy Tales,” “Peabody’s Improbable History” and “Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties.” (Foray also played Nell Fenwick, Dudley Do-Right’s damsel-in-distress.)
Despite the show ending in 1964, “The Bullwinkle Show” remained on television in syndication until as late as 2016. Children of the 70s and 80s in particular grew up on the show, which in part perhaps inspired the films “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle,” “Dudley Do-Right,” and “Mr. Peabody & Sherman.”
“The Bullwinkle Show” has had such an impact on American culture that in 2013, it was ranked the sixth Greatest TV Cartoon of All Time by TV Guide.
“I always have loved animated shows and cartoons, and I find The Rocky and Bullwinkle/The Bullwinkle Show one of the best there was. The animation is a tad on the primitive side, but it can have an appealing look to it,” wrote one reviewer on IMDB in 2011. “What makes the show are the characters and the writing. The characters are timeless, not just Rocky and Bullwinkle, Rocky being adorable and Bullwinkle hilarious, but support characters like Boris and Natasha. The writing is superb, with a satirical edge that is both sarcastic and subtle while managing to be laugh-out-loud funny.”
In addition to her voice acting on “The Bullwinkle Show,” June Foray also played Granny in the “Tweety and Sylvester” cartoons and the endearing character Cindy Lou Who in the Chuck Jones Christmas classic “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
Foray also founded the annual Annie Awards that reward excellence in animation, and she was an original member of the animation organization ASIFA-Hollywood. She helped in the creation of the Oscar category for animated feature.
“On behalf of ASIFA-Hollywood, of which June was a founder, we are mourning the passing of animation’s best friend,” said ASIFA president Jerry Beck. “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.”
Image Source: JD Hancock/Flickr