May 25, 2001
I am reminded of a few cartoons, that June Foray has voiced, over the years, which have injected some beautiful scenes from nature, and the great outdoors. Though I, personally, like just about ALL of her work, I think the animation which combines her voice, and the beauty of Mother Nature, is some of the most charming work that she has done. June Foray, herself, is such an artist, that it seems appropos, that her voice would compliment, so well, the artistry of nature and the wilderness.
I have seen quite a few of the Fractured Fairy Tales, from her Rocky and Bullwinkle days, which took place in a thickly wooded forest (or even in an enchanted, magical forest). Such a nice background for Ms. Foray’s superb characterizations.
I also remember a nature scene, in France, in which I have seen and heard June’s voice used. It was in a Warner Bros. cartoon, in which she was the Narrator, of a story that took place in the beautiful French countryside (and the French Wine Country). She, of course, spoke in a French accent. She used a soft, charming, feminine voice, to go with this accent.
I think that one of my very favorite nature scenes, that she has done, was at the very end of a Tom Slick episode, from the old George of the Jungle series of the late 60s. Tom Slick was an auto racer, who talked exactly like Dudley Do-Right. June played his girlfriend, Marigold who, ironically spoke exactly like Dudley Do-Right’s girlfriend, Nell Fenwick. At the tail end of this episode, we saw a bit of a departure, from the normal fast-paced, fast action tempo of Tom Slick. Being a cartoon about drag racing, it is quite rare, that this cartoon had a more peaceful, slow pace. At any rate, Tom and Marigold (June) were closing out the episode, delivering their last lines in front of a beautiful, deep sunset.
It is true that June’s Marigold/Nell Fenwick voice has never been my very favorite voice, among her vast collection of characterizations. However, when paired with beautiful scenes from nature, I do think that, in that sense, that is one of my very favorites. This sweet, dainty, gentile, feminine voice (with a kind of soprano pitch) compliments, so well: a deep, brilliant, toasted sunset……..the beauty of a forest, filled with endless tall green trees………or a deep, green, rolling meadow, sprinkled with magnificent, colorful wildflowers.
In the last year or two, there have been a number of nights (especially summer nights) when I have sat out on my porch, and enjoyed the moon (especially the full moon or the kind of “finger nail”/paper moon), the beautiful seranading of the crickets and the frogs, the stars and the heavenly breeze. Of course, I found the overall darkness very soothing too.
On some of these occasions, these smooth, starry nights would jog my memory to some of the nature scenes, that June had done (especially those accompanied by her charming, feminine, soprano voice). I realized that I could not recall any cartoons, that she had ever voiced, which included a beautiful evening scene, like the one that I was gazing out on, from my porch. I also thought, to myself, that some of the most beautiful scenes, of nature, period, are those which one can behold at night. I told myself how neat……..how charming, it would be, to see and hear June do her Marigold/Nell voice, for an animated version of what I was looking at, from my porch.
Later on, when my sister got married, in the Las Vegas area, and we had the reception at a picnic area of the nearby Red Rock Canyon park, I pictured this same area at night (we were there in the afternoon)…….and I was reminded of how much more beautiful a scene, this Red Rock Canyon area was, than my front porch.
There were cottonwood trees, here, which made the most beautiful sound, when the wind blew through their round, dried, leaves (they were green, despite the fact that they were dry). How wonderful this rustling sound was, coupled with the cool of the day (Red Rock Canyon was probably about 20 degrees cooler than downtown Las Vegas)!
There was also an entire assortment of canyons, and rocks, in front of us………Many of the rocky configurations looked like they were falling all over the place (which seemed to suggest that there had been a lot of earthquakes, here, years and years ago). We were all there, long enough, to see the sunset, and hear
Southern Nevada’s own chorus of crickets…………
As I began to picture this scene, at night, I realized that the only things that we would miss, in the darkness, would be the piercing, blue, Nevada sky and the vast array of God’s brilliant colors, naturally painted on the various rocks (“a banquet for the eyes!”, to borrow a line from the late W.C. Fields). As far as those nicely splashed colors, were concerned, there is also a unique and charming beauty in viewing these same foothills and canyons in silhouette form……..or completely black………
That day, at Red Rock Canyon, changed completely how I view the night sky, whenever I sit on my own porch now. Many an evening, has passed, when my mind flashes back, to that same picnic area, where we were that day. I find myself envisioning, how it must look, at nightfall…….and how it must feel, with the desert breeze……..and how it must sound, with the crickets, locusts, and other desert insects, animals and birds……..
I found myself picturing June, doing her gentile voice, in an even prettier animated late night scene (prettier than just the setting of my own home). I pictured her doing this voice, not just in a valley or corner of Red Rock Canyon, Nevada, but in an area much closer to me……..the Big Bend Valley, in Southwest Texas………..I pictured her voice, in a cartoon set in one of Big Bend’s canyons, along the Rio Grande: the Santa Elena or Boquillas Canyons……….and I imagined the incredible array of twinkling and sparkling stars, in this scene………stars so brilliant, and amazing, compared to those of any typical
Recently I read the transcript, of a live talk/question/answer session, that June gave, in August of 1998, at Walt Disney Productions. One of the members of the audience told June, that she was in the process of trying to start her own animation studio. She asked June:
“Will you do voices for my cartoons, once I get them off the ground?”.
June jokingly responded, in her Russian character voice, Natasha:
“Eet depends on how much you pay me, DAHLING!“
As I read that, I thought to myself, what a shame that I am not in the process of starting an animation studio…….I would try to hire June, to voice a nocturnal scene, like the one that I have been talking about……….How charming and neat a story that would be with her gleaming, priceless and QUAINT characterizations, which cannot really be found elsewhere.
Of course I have only scratched the surface, or tapped the tip of the ice berg, by alluding to June’s soprano rendition of Marigold and Nell Fenwick. There are so many thoughts, which could be written, about the incredibly endless coterie of women, who come out of the mouth of Ms. Foray (see some of our other articles, on June for more details on her characterizations).
There is one other, of her voices, however, which I have failed to allude to very often (and this voice is not that big of a stretch from her Marigold/Nell voice): that of her little girls. June has used this voice on many an occasion: as Grettel (in a Hansel and Grettel Fractured Fairy Tale), as the little blond-haired deck hand, on Cap’n Crunch’s ship (on those old cereal commercials), as Cindy Lou Who (in How the Grinch Stole Christmas), and also to fool a contestant, on the 70s game show, Truth or Consequences (she actually did trick a contestant, who was making phone calls, for host, Bob Barker, into thinking that she really was a little girl on the phone).
As a very brief digression, from my train of thought, I would like to say a few words, vis á vis June’s work in the Fractured Fairy Tales. I had mentioned, in a piece that I wrote, on Daws Butler, that if the Grimm brothers had lived to see and hear Daws breath life, into so many of their famous characters, they would most assuredly be proud, and thrilled, at the justice that he had done their work. I am sure that we are safe to assume that they would feel exactly the same way, about the sparkle, charm and warmth, that June has contributed, to many of their female characters.
At any rate, when my mind would occasionally stumble on June, on some of those soothing, moonlit nights, I would think not just of her voice, being used in a nocturnal cartoon, but also about something else……….I wondered, sometimes, if June happened to be looking out, at the same night sky, as I was………….and if she was enjoying the peacefulness, and beauty, of the natural darkness, at that exact same moment.
I thought a lot, too, about how June was (and is) the only gifted voice artist left, from all the really great, quality work, that Jay Ward and Bill Scott put out, over the years (going back as long ago as 1959). I also thought about some of her achievements, dating all the way back to the 30s and the 40s.
I have been very happy to read, over the last year or so, that not only is she still quite active, in her profession, but she appears to still be a ball of energy and is living life to its fullest. It is my sincere hope, that the many blessings, treasures and triumphs, that have fallen into June’s path, over the decades, will be so very nicely enhanced, and magnified, through many, many more years, as one of the last living, legends, from the classic era of Animation.