The Emmys are all about honoring television's most talented actors: the stars whose faces evoke the dynamic characters we love, hate, or love to hate. But some of the most revered actors don't have a familiar face at all. Thus is the case with one of TV's most iconic and prolific voice actors of all time, June Foray, who's known as "The First Lady of Cartoon Voices."
But this year, Foray, 95, will certainly not be forgotten. The Emmy winner will be the recipient of the Creative Arts Emmys' prestigious Governors Award. She sat down with Theo Von, host of Yahoo's "The Yo Show," in her home — which she calls "a museum" dedicated to cartoons — to discuss her 80-year career and the most memorable characters she's voiced, namely Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Natasha Fatale on "The Bullwinkle Show," which aired from 1959 to 1964.
When asked how she came up with Rocky's voice, Foray admitted, "I have no idea." So how did the iconic role get going? She got a call from Jay Ward's team (Ward produced numerous animated series, including "Rocky & Bullwinkle" and "Dudley Do-Right") informing Foray that he wanted her in his new show. And she thought, "What the heck, a free lunch is a free lunch."
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While he was expecting her to do the Rocky voice at the lunch table, she held out until the following week, when she showed up at the studio for a test run. That's when she first did her cute-voiced character, but surprisingly, she didn't hear back from Ward for a year!
"I thought, well, I had a free lunch, and it was fun. A year later, I get a call [that] we're ready to go," she said. And the rest is animated history.
Just last year, Foray won the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program for her contributions to "The Garfield Show," making her the oldest entertainer to win an Emmy. But that's news to Foray! When Von shared that fact with her, she replied, "Am I? I didn't know that. Oh my goodness. Well, I'm flattered."
As for her thoughts on winning the coveted Governors Award: "I feel so grateful that I was able to do what people would like to listen to."
Watch Foray discuss her voiceover work for animation and television:
More of Foray's acclaimed roles include Cindy Lou Who in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!"; Granny, the owner of Tweety and Sylvester, on "The Bugs Bunny Show"; and Jokey Smurf on "The Smurfs."
Bruce Rosenblum, chairperson and CEO of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, spoke highly of Foray's impact on the industry and why she deserves this illustrious award: "Each year, the Board of Governors recognizes a person or organization whose contributions to our industry will forever live on. June Foray absolutely embodies everything that this honor represents. A legend and a pioneer, June is not only in a class of her own, but she literally created that class. There is simply no one more deserving of this honor."
The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will air Saturday, 9/21 at 9 PM on FXX.