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Artist gives a ‘voice’ to Rocky, other toons

Characters range from childlike to menacing, chilling

SHARE Artist gives a ‘voice’ to Rocky, other toons

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. — June Foray can be the voice of reason as Rocky the Flying Squirrel, the cartoon companion to lovably dopey Bullwinkle Moose.

Foray can be the voice of childlike bewilderment as Cindy Lou Who asking the Grinch why he is taking away the family Christmas tree.

And Foray can be the voice of menace. Seated in her home surrounded by souvenirs of the dozens of cartoon voices she has done over the decades, Foray launches into the memorably chilling dialogue she once recorded for a "Twilight Zone" episode about a maniacal talking doll.

"I'm Talky Tina," Foray utters in a girlish but threatening tone, "and I'm going to kill you."

The last survivor of the voice talents who originated "Rocky and Bullwinkle" on television in the late 1950s, Foray reprises her role as the can-do squirrel in the big-screen adaptation "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle," which opens Friday.

Foray, 74, saw the finished film and found it "completely reminiscent of our series. It had the wit and humor, the good story with a beginning, middle and end, which some movies don't have. It had all the charm of Rocky and Bullwinkle. And Rocky's the same as ever."

The original "Rocky and Bullwinkle" aired in 326 short installments as part of a series featuring other cartoon creations by Jay Ward. A sharp Cold War spoof, the cartoon pitted the moose and squirrel against the bumbling spies Boris and Natasha and their boss, Fearless Leader.

The movie lifts Rocky and Bullwinkle into the real world as computer-animated characters. Boris, Natasha and Fearless Leader appear in the flesh, played by Jason Alexander, Rene Russo and Robert De Niro.

Foray took particular interest in how Russo handled Natasha's comically Soviet accent. Besides the voice of Rocky, Foray had also done Natasha for the cartoon.

"She did a really good job," says Foray, whose own voice carries a trace of Rocky's plucky tone. "She captured Natasha very, very well."

Born in Springfield, Mass., Foray moved with her parents as a teenager to Los Angeles, where she began working on radio programs.

She did voices for the animated movies "Cinderella" and "Peter Pan" in the 1950s, eventually hooking up with Ward and Bill Scott, who originated the voice of Bullwinkle. Ward and Scott died in the 1980s; for the movie, Bullwinkle's voice was done by Keith Scott, who is unrelated to Bill Scott.

Foray did voices for other Ward series, including "Dudley Do-Right" and "George of the Jungle," as well as "The Simpsons" pilot, "Mulan," "The Smurfs," "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" and Cindy Lou in "The Grinch That Stole Christmas." Her Warner Bros. cartoon credits include Witch Hazel and Tweety's Granny.

On July 7, Foray is getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, right next to Ward's.

Her home is filled with posters, stuffed animals and caricatures of her many characters. It is clear from the number of Rocky and Bullwinkle items, though, who is her favorite.

"Everybody asks me that," said Foray, who wears a golden pendant of Rocky sculpted by one of her nieces. "I think the fans kind of answer that for me. Everybody loves Rocky. I get letters from Belgium, Germany, all over. People don't think of him as a squirrel. They think of him as a person. And he's a good little person."