This story was published in Radio Recall, the journal of the Metropolitan Washington Old-Time Radio Club, published six times per year.
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THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JUNE FORAY:
DID YOU GROW UP WITH ME, TOO?
By June Foray
with Mark Evanier and Earl Kress
foreword by Leonard Maltin
162 pp; $19.95
Bear Manor Media
PO Box 71426
Albany, Georgia 31706
Book Review by Michael J. Hayde
(From Radio Recall, December 2009)
You may not recognize the name, but you’ve heard of June Foray. Or rather, you’ve HEARD June Foray. Old-Time Radio fans know her from The Stan Freberg Show, not to mention her appearances on Freberg’s comedy records – as well as a handful of children’s disks - on the Capitol label. If you were a little girl during the late 1950’s, perhaps you recall pulling a string and hearing June in your “Chatty Cathy” doll – and if you’re a Twilight Zone buff, you’ve heard her as “Talky Tina,” the homicidal version of “Chatty Cathy.”
But Ms. Foray’s chief claim to fame is in animated cartoons, both classic and modern. She voiced Witch Hazel, occasional nemesis to Bugs Bunny; took over the role of Granny, Tweety Pie’s elderly owner, from Bea Benederet; and is best known as Rocket J. Squirrel, bosom buddy of Bullwinkle the Moose on television’s Rocky and His Friends. In later years, she’s voiced characters for Garfield and Friends, The Smurfs, and the recent Disney feature Mulan.
In breezy, conversational style, Ms. Foray tells all in Did You Grow Up With Me, Too? – a title that speaks to the greeting she receives most often from fans. The book is succinct, yet packed with fascinating tales about growing up in Springfield, Massachusetts; moving to Los Angeles and discovering acting; being hired to “loop” (overdub) dialogue for less-loquacious actresses; local and network radio gigs and finally, inevitably, doing voice work in cartoons.
Perhaps because her collaborators are two animation writers, the cartoon work takes center stage in Ms. Foray’s memoir. But there’s plenty here to delight the OTR fan, particularly the memories of the comical Mr. Freberg, not to mention Mel Blanc, her male counterpart at Warner Brothers Cartoons. Refreshingly, her childhood and personal life were decidedly non-controversial; she married once and the union lasted until her husband’s passing. Best of all, she remains in demand – a rarity in a youth-driven business.
Most OTR hobbyists are well aware of their pet medium’s omnipresence in cartoons of the era. June Foray is one of those who prospered in both worlds, and Did You Grow Up With Me, Too? is not without wit or charm, making for enjoyable reading. If there’s any flaw, it’s that the book ends all too soon. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially since the principal subject is still going strong. The Autobiography of June Foray is a worthy addition to any OTR library.