June Foray: On the Doorstep of 1974……….

(Trivia on June Foray)

Just a few weeks, before 1974, according to her “holiday letter” to me, June Foray:

  • Still had the pleasure of enjoying her mother’s company: By this time her mother was most likely about 80 years of age. June described her mother as still “very much alive”……kind of a foreshadowing, I would say, of June, herself, in the 21st Century……..Very much a spunky, active, senior citizen……..the perennial role model of aging gracefully……..and never slowing down with achievements and living life to its fullest. Back on the doorstep of 1974 she wrote to me: “I’m always on the go!!”. Perhaps that is the secret to a long, healthy, happy life……..
  • Had lost her father, about fifteen years earlier: The timing of her father’s death tragically preceded her work in Rocky and Bullwinkle, by about one year. How sad that he never got to see her accomplishments, on that series
  • Claimed to have one brother and one sister
  • Though she never had any children, she proudly claimed to be the mother of two Great Danes, whom she said that she and her husband truly adored: Interestingly enough there is a parallel between her life and Paul Frees’ life, in this respect. Paul Frees, in his own letter, claimed to never have had any children, but he said: “Our child is an apricot poodle, named Boogsy!”
  • Mentioned about her husband, Hobart Donovan, the writer:
    1. He wrote originally for radio
    2. Then movies
    3. Then television
    4. Was only writing novels by that time
    5. Published a youth book, around this time, called Desert Stallion, about an Arabian boy and his horse. June said that, if I liked horses, it would be a charmer for me
    6. For the record, Hobart Donovan died in 1976
  • She appeared to be highly-educated, perhaps almost completely self-educated, after high school: Her history tends to point to the fact that she probably never had time to go to college. She started in radio, at age 12, sometime around 1930, and her career never slowed down, after that. She became more and more in demand over the years. Nevertheless, she stated that she read and memorized many of the great classics, from Literature, which helped her career in voice. Reading and memorizing the classics helped make her an “omnivorous reader.” She stated that much of her waking time was spent reading………mostly non-fiction. For the record she got started in radio, at age 12, because one of her teachers, in Speech, had a local radio show, at the time, and invited June to participate in that show……..The rest was history (and this was in Springfield, MA………not California………on the WBZA radio station………After she moved to California, she continued in this medium of entertainment).June mentioned that she was doing old ladies, even when she was 12. She also credited her teachers, from the time that she was 6 years old, for helping her to refine her talent in the “voice category”.
  • June had visited Walter Tetley, in the hospital, a couple years earlier, after his motorcycle accident
  • She carved out a place in American History, for herself, by starting the Great Meat Boycott of 1973:She wrote:

    “In case you didn’t know, I’m the June Foray Donovan who started the Great Meat Boycott, last April, and went to Washington D.C. to testify before the Joint Economic Committee, conducted by Senator Hubert Humphrey. I was on the television news so many times that I am surprised that you did not see me.”

    I do remember, in the spring of 1973, seeing the covers of Newsweek and Time magazines, in my social studies class, proclaiming (even screaming): Don’t Eat Meat!! (sometimes picturing the charicature of an angry housewife, protesting). I did not see June, on TV, but I didn’t watch the news much, at age 13.

  • Chris Allen, who voiced Jay Ward’s cartoon frog, “Hoppity Hooper”, from the series of the same name, wrote to me, about June, in her own April 1974 letter:

    “June has been involved with some very important consumer education projects and civic problems, in her local area.”

    So although many people have long been aware of June’s role in the ‘ 73 Meat Boycott (I have noticed that this has been well documented, on the internet), perhaps few folks knew of her community involvement in consumer education and civics matters. All of this bolsters, what I have already said, in trivia point # 6, above, about how highly educated and intelligent she was……..college or no college, she educated not only herself……..but many others in the process.

  • Had done some on-camera work, in recent years, including in January, 1974:She did a TV guest spot, on Bob Barker’s Truth or Consequences game show, which aired in January, 1974. Bob Barker introduced her stating that, she had appeared on his programs, many times, over the years. She also said that she had been on The Today Show and The David Frost Show around 1971 or 1972. For the record……..See June Foray in one of the only movies, that she ever made with a speaking part!!! RENT THE 1954 MOVIE, SABAKA!! SABAKA was a movie, which took place in India. One of her co-stars was Boris Karloff. She played the character of Marku Ponjoy, the high priestess of Sabaka.Her filmography also alludes to a part, that she played, in the 1966 televised version of Arthur Millers’s play, Death of a Salesman.
  • June was able to increase her stature with what she termed “clunky platform shoes:” Though surely she did not wear such shoes, all the time, June did mention, in her letter, that wearing such shoes did elevate her 4’11” height to 5′ 1.5″. She joked with me, in her letter: “How come at 14 you’re taller than I ?!?”
  • Mentioned that an audition tape, for voice work, should never be more than 5 minutes in length. I continued to read this statement, from her, in interviews over the years. I am sure that she is absolutely correct, about this. I will say, however, that 5 minutes never seemed like very much time, at all, to showcase one’s talents and versatility.
  • Mentioned that she loved visiting Kenya, East Africa, so very much, in July 1973, that she planned to visit it again, the following summer:She commented that Africa was so very beautiful. She
    added that she would visiting it, again, after she attended a film festival, in Zagreb, Yugoslavia. I was very impressed since Yugoslavia was behind the Iron Curtain……..and not exactly a very popular country to visit, among Americans who went to Communist countries back then. I would have liked to have visited it myself !
  • Paul Frees said, in his own letter to me, about June:“June Foray is a very lovely woman” and “When you have a talent, like June Foray, you are ageless!!……..Her voice will just go on, forever, and will always be ageless!………”
  • June closed her letter to me stating:

    “Brian, my boy, I feel that I’ve been at the typewriter for hours and still haven’t already answered all the questions, that you asked. But have patience with me. When you write next, I promise that I shall be more informative and shan’t make you wait so long.”

    I really liked the way she threw in the word “shan’t”……. It reminded me of the “classiness”, that I have always come to associate with June Foray. But anyway, over the years, she never did write again, despite the fact that she said this. I tried, several times, over the years, to correspond with her, and she never did follow through. It definitely was not the same, as writing to the Great Daws Butler, who welcomed my letters, and wrote several times.

    Be that as it may, however, my admiration for June, her many accomplishments, her incredible stamina and wonderful achievements, have not been diminished very much, by that fact. I still hold her up as a Wonderful Icon, in the Animation Field……..and I am very glad that she is still with us, at the Dawning of the 21st Century!

    I might add that, I wish that she had been awarded that Star, on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, long, long before she was (in the year 2000). No one deserved it more………no one, of her great stature, should have had to wait so long, to get that Star……….

Post Script to the Trivia:

June enclosed, in her letter to me, an official 1973 “Prepared Biography” on her career/life. It appeared to have been compiled by her agent, at the time:

  • Though busy, professionally, Ms. Foray finds time to indulge in her hobbies, including:
    1. Portrait Painting
    2. Sewing
    3. Writing Articles
  • At the time of her letter, Ms. Foray was a Foster Parent to a Chinese child, Wong Mei Kay, living in Hong Kong
  • Though mentioned briefly, in June of the Jungle, about her involvement with Disney on Parade, the biography alluded to the fact that:
    1. She recorded the voice of the Wicked Stepmother and Snow White, for the 1971 version of Disney on Parade
    2. She was then called, by Disney, to do the voice of many famous characters, in the 1972 and 1973 versions of Disney on Parade, then touring both the U.S. and Europe.
    3. In 1973 she had just recorded the voice of Mrs. Darling, for the road show of Peter Pan
  • Her biography alludes to the fact that, like Walter Tetley, she recorded hundreds of children’s and adults’ albums for Capitol Records……..This was a big part of what helped her to become discovered, by many of today’s Animation studios.
  • Some of the movies, from the 60s and the 70s, for which she did dubbing or special voice effects were:
    1. Doctors’ Wives
    2. Hospital
    3. Love Machine
    4. McHugh (with John Wayne)
    5. The Secret of Santa Vittoria
    6. The Little People
    7. The Counterfeit Man
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