Jew of the Week: June Foray

June Lucille Forer (1917-2017) was born in Massachusetts to a Ukrainian-Jewish father and a mother with Lithuanian-Jewish and French-Canadian ancestry. From a young age, she dreamed of being an actress. At 12, she was cast to voice a character in a radio drama. By 15, she had become a regular radio voice actress, and two years later moved to Los Angeles. She soon had her very own radio show, and was known across America as “June Foray”. A decade later, she started working in film, and went on to voice countless beloved characters, including Lucifer the Cat in Cinderella, Witch Hazel in Looney Tunes, as well as Granny (owner of Tweety and Sylvester), Grandmother Fa in Mulan, Aunt May in Spider-Man, and Cindy Lou Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Perhaps most famously, she was Rocky the Flying Squirrel (of Rocky and Bullwinkle), and voiced characters in Peter Pan, Woody Woodpecker, Tom and Jerry, Scooby-Doo, The Jetsons, The Flintstones, George of the Jungle, The Smurfs, and The Twilight Zone. Foray also appeared as a guest on The Simpsons, Family Guy, and many other shows. All in all, Foray worked on 19 radio programs, nearly 100 TV shows, and over 100 films. She also appeared in 9 video games, voiced many talking toys, recorded several children’s music albums, and wrote two books. Foray won an Emmy Award for her work, and played a key role in establishing the Annie Awards (for achievement in animation) and creating the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in the Oscars. In fact, she was an Academy board member for 26 years, as well as governor of the Academy for a time. She founded the International Animated Film Society (which later named an award in her honour), and taught voice acting at the University of Southern California. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was featured in a 2013 documentary about her life called The One and Only June Foray. Foray worked well into her 90s, once saying, “My body is old, but I think the same as I did when I was 20 years old.” Sadly, Foray passed away last week, just shy of her 100th birthday. She has been called the “actress of a thousand voices” and “the First Lady of Voice Acting”. Click here to see a compilation of her voices.

Words of the Week

You cannot add more minutes to the day, but you can utilize each one to the fullest.
– Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Jews of the Week: the Guggenheims

Meyer Guggenheim, with (top to bottom) Daniel, Solomon, Simon, and Benjamin

Meyer Guggenheim (1828-1905) was born in Switzerland to a traditional Ashkenazi Jewish family. At 19, he set out on his own and journeyed to the United States. After working in various shops in Philadelphia, Guggenheim opened up his own company, importing Swiss embroidery. Business went well, and he soon searched for new opportunities. In 1881, Guggenheim invested $5000 in two Colorado silver mines, and quickly realized their incredible potential. He sold all his other ventures and put all of his money into mining and smelting. With the help of his seven sons, Guggenheim quickly expanded across the US. By 1901, the family controlled the largest metal-processing plants in the US, and also owned mines in Mexico, Bolivia, Chile, and the Congo. In 1922, various disputes led to the Guggenheims being kicked out of their largest company by its own board. Soon, they sold off all of their mines. The family would invest elsewhere, and the fortune vacillated over the decades. In 1999, it ceased to be a strictly family affair with the opening of Guggenheim Partners. Today, the firm has 2300 employees, and controls $260 billion in assets worldwide (including the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, purchased for a record $2.15 billion in cash).

After the elder Guggenheim’s passing, his son Daniel Guggenheim (1856-1930) took over the business. By 1918, he raised the family fortune to as much as $300 million, making them among the wealthiest people in the world, as well as among the most generous philanthropists. Daniel’s son was a World War I pilot, inspiring Daniel to invest considerably in aviation technology. To this day, the most prestigious prize in aeronautics is the Daniel Guggenheim Medal. Another son, Solomon Guggenheim (1861-1949), was a patron of the arts and an avid collector. He established New York’s world-famous Guggenheim Museum. Meanwhile, Simon Guggenheim (1867-1941) served as a US senator. He established a fund in honour of his deceased son that has granted over 15,000 scholarships to date, totalling over $250 million! His $80,000 donation (equivalent to $2.5 million today) to a Colorado school was, at the time, the largest private grant ever made to a state institution. Benjamin Guggenheim (1865-1912) worked for the family business out of Paris, and in 1912 boarded the Titanic to head back home. When the iceberg hit, he was offered a place among the first women being evacuated, but rejected, saying “No woman shall remain unsaved because I was a coward.” One survivor reported that “after having helped the rescue of women and children, [he] got dressed, a rose at his buttonhole, to die.” His body was never recovered.

Words of the Week

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.
– Plato