September 2, 2008

The "in a world" voiceover guy...

... is no longer in the world.

Movie trailers will never be the same. What a voice!

Don LaFontaine. RIP.

ADDED:

37 comments:

Peter V. Bella said...

I saw an interview with him awhile back. He set things up so he could do most of his work from home and jsut send it out. He kept up with all the cutting edge technology. He seemed like a great guy, just the average Joe who did well. He claimed to have done very well and worked very hard to achieve his success.

goesh said...

His voice could etch stone, sad news indeed.

Seven Machos said...

In a world where there is a giant vortex and Sarah Palin is at its center...

Ron said...

On my blog, I have him as a "Saint of The House of Fun."

here's my post

jroosh said...

I think his best work was the GEICO commercial.

john said...

Ya, Ya, I liked him too. Nice to pay tribute, occasionally when it doesn't interfere with real news.

Break's over, guys. Now its back to the All-Sarah-All-The-Time show. Have you counted Excitable Andy's string of "Sarah-poorly-vetted" posts? Gotta be over 50 now.

Independent George said...

I hope that, in time, film buffs remember him the same way football fans remember John Facenda.

SteveR said...

John Facenda.. wow greatness, I am glad to have live it in real time.

XWL said...

His best work was on just about any foreign film released in the 90s.

Seems the studios felt, that even though foreign language filmgoers are a small self selecting group, that they didn't want to be reminded there would be subtitles, so in the trailers, no dialogue, just Mr. LaFontaine describing the inner lives and general milieu of the characters they hoped you'd be tempted to see.

Big Hollywood effects fests, they just show you the best explosions (and the lead star's throwaway one liner), but with foreign films, they relied on his voice (and usually one or two really hot foreign women featured in some form of undress) to sell the picture.

I bet Will Arnett will be expected to pick up much of the slack. He has trouble not sounding sardonic, though. LaFontaine managed to make the cheesiest copy sound sincere, that's a very special and unusual talent.

(plenty of people have great pipes, but not all of them can sell what they're saying convincingly, LaFontaine foremost was a great salesman)

Paul Snively said...

This is awful news. My wife, who does voiceover work in Los Angeles also, is going to be inconsolable.

My prayer is that Don LaFontaine is in a world where "in a world where..." always enraptures.

Cedarford said...

Good work, good life when you think how with a few well-chosen, well-sounding words, he enhanced so many peoples entertaiment experience and even made watching ads a little more bearable.

It sound like a small thing, but he had his moment of influencing emotion on billions of occasions, in hundreds of millions of people's lives. That cumulatively adds up to a lot of influence and good feelings.

I'm glad Don LaFontaine finally got his day in front of the camera in the GEICO commercial, my favorite next to the James Lipton one lampooning his and his actor interviewee's pomposities.

When I first saw it, replete with the magical music score that began as he talked...puffing up the accident into something you Wanted-to-Watch-Happen ...I laughed and said to people: "Wow! Thats the guy! I've heard him hundreds of times....!"

Good luck in the hereafter, Don LaFontaine, and come Judgement Day, God could do well to use you as his intro man to the saints and sinners at the End.

"In a world where we all have waited for......"

vbspurs said...

NO! There have only been two more iconic voices in American history:

1. John Facenda - The NFL Presents narrator. I think this is what God sounds like.

2. James Earl Jones - Highly praised character actor and voice of Darth Vader. Also voices "This is CNN" with that deep growl of his.

3. And poor Don LaFontaine, whose name I didn't know until today. He went much too young.

RIP!

...I guess now we're left with Bill Kurtis, and Morgan Freeman as the most rivetting American voices around.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

I hope that, in time, film buffs remember him the same way football fans remember John Facenda.

Nice! Someone else remembered him too. :)

I had to Google for a while for his name. I had no idea he had died...I thought he was maybe too old for work.

vbspurs said...

This is awful news. My wife, who does voiceover work in Los Angeles also, is going to be inconsolable.

Very nicely said, Paul.

Since we're talking of voiceover work, when you arrive at the old GaleĆ£o airport in Rio de Janeiro (no called Tom Jobim airport), this is the voice that will greet you as she announces the flights.

Iris Lettieri

(Let it load)

What do you guys think?

Cheers,
Victoria

Independent George said...

Victoria - He's probably not as well known to anyone but fans of the History Channel, but Edward Hermann is terrific. He did "Russia: Land of the Tsars", "Ape to Man", "The Littel Ice Age", and lots more whose titles escape me at the moment.

Ron said...

Victoria - He's probably not as well known to anyone but fans of the History Channel, but Edward Hermann is terrific. He did "Russia: Land of the Tsars", "Ape to Man", "The Littel Ice Age", and lots more whose titles escape me at the moment.

What? Ed Hermann has played FDR in movies more than once, and spent years on "Gilmore Girls" as Lauren Graham's father. He's quite good!

vbspurs said...

Edward Hermann is terrific, IG! Good pickup on FDR, Ron.

I think the mini-series he and America's second most distinguished theatre actress (after Gena Rowlands), Jane Alexander, made together as FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt was sublime.

Hermann also does a lot of voiceover work for the History Channel. My recent favourite was his narration of the American Revolution.

Cheers,
Victoria

ricpic said...

My philosophy is that you really have to believe what you're reading...

Isn't that the key to doing anything well? Whatever you're doing at the moment you're doing it be there 100%.

chickenlittle said...

Another great American commercial voice belonged to Thurl Ravenscroft.

He was the voice of Tony the Tiger (They're GRREEAATT!). He also sang "You're a mean one Mr. Grinch" in the children's classic. Because he was uncredited in that, many (myself included) assumed it was Boris Karloff's voice.

Plus what a cool and unusual first name- Thurl!

blake said...

Definitely one of the greats.

vbspurs said...

Wow, Thurl. Fantastic!

How about Bert Parks, the Miss American pageant and animated cartoon voiceover guy?

And of course, the late great Isaac "Chef" Hayes.

I'm also reminded of "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown", the Almodovar film which centres around two voiceover artists...and err, their wacky wacky romantic problems.

Paul Zrimsek said...

It always amazed me that ONE MAN did all those trailers.

Ron said...

I was introduced in a line of fans to June Foray (the voice of Rocky the flying squirrel) by a close friend of mine. At first I drew a blank on the name, I knew it, but how?...then she did the Rocky voice for me. And the fanboys in the line we were waiting were unfazed and unimpressed! My Woody Allen-Marshall McCluhan moment.

Palladian said...

Since we're remembering great disembodied voices, don't forget the late Jane Barbe.

We're sorry, your call cannot be completed as dialed. Please check the number and dial again... [wav audio file]

Will said...

Here's Don La Fontaine and a bunch of other VO guys hamming it up and showing off their chops.

Rest in Peace, Don.

blake said...

Great voice actors--like great face actors--come in two basic styles.

You've got the Mel Blanc type, man of a thousand voices, you just don't recognize from character-to-character, until you get a very fine ear (or they hit what Maurice Le Marche--voice of The Brain--refers to as "the wall", when they just run out of variants).

And in that regard, Mel Blanc wasn't where the modern guys, like Maurice and Billy West and Dan Castellanata are: It's easy to spot Mel Blanc's characters after a while.

Then you have the guys who are more like Movie Stars, who just have one great, but highly recognizable voice, no matter how much acting they do. (Patrick Warburton for all his wonderful inflections still is always recognizable).

Women will often have one highly recognizable voice in one register (EG Daly's "Buttercup", Pamela Adlon's "Bobby Hill", Tara Strong "Bubbles", June Foray's "Rocky") and then be able to switch registers for a completely different and often unrecognizable set of voices.

And then there's Frank Welker, who's most famous for Freddy Jones of Scooby Doo fame--one of the great voices because it doesn't sound like a voice (but it is! the real Welker sounds nothing like Freddy). Frank is most often used these days for special and animal effects, and is known to be able to do a flock a birds, by himself, no electronic enhancement.

Ah yes, some people dream of being actors, I dream of being a voice actor.....

XWL said...

Ah yes, some people dream of being actors, I dream of being a voice actor.....

That's just cause you can wear shorts or sweats to work every day.

Any job you never have to dress in anything more formal than a bathrobe (assuming you can swing a home studio set up), is a damn fine job.

blake said...

Actually, I'm working now (in between posts) and I'm not even wearing pants.

What?

I thought that was the whole point!

Ron said...

Actually, I'm working now (in between posts) and I'm not even wearing pants.

What?

I thought that was the whole point!


Aha! Here we have a philosophic conundrum in the Haus of Alt...Are men with shorts worse than men with no pants at all?

:)

blake said...

It's all context, Ron.

I'm not outside. My blinds are discretely drawn.

And I throw on a dressing gown when the FedEx fellow requires a signature.

Decorum, first.

kimsch said...

When the Great America amusement park opened way back when in Gurnee, Illinois, Mel Blanc was there on opening day. It was amazing to see him standing there and all those voices coming out of his mouth.

Don Pardoe is still alive - he's 90 now and still doing SNL.

Ron said...

I would love to see Joan Fontaine and her sister Olivia DeHavaland reenact the Kirk-Kahn scenes from Star Trek II..."From Hell's heart I stab at thee..."

right-o, Vic? ;)

vbspurs said...

Ron's and other's awesome commentaries on this little gem of a thread reminds me of:

The woman who voiced Disney Classic, "Snow White", Adriana Caselotti.

I saw her on a Best of Carson DVD saying that it didn't matter to her that she hadn't appeared in any other films as notable as Snow White.

Some actresses have acted in 100s of films she said. But I acted in an all-time world classic.

Bravo.

Check out this DVD featurette giving background information on all the voice actors of that film.

Tibore said...

LaFontaine's dead. Sad now. :(

The man took a single talent and turned it into a singular career. Plus, from what I read, he was genuinely a fine fellow. He'll be missed.

Joe said...

At least we still have Will Lyman.

Jeff Gee said...

Thurl Ravonscroft wasn't just a great voice over guy, he was a great singer, too. And way more than "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch." Last year WFMU posted 35 songs by him-- including "The Kitty Cat Parade," which you will absolutely want to put into heavy rotation on your iPod...

vbspurs said...

And after Day 1 of the RNC, I'm reminded we also have Fred Thompson.

His voiceover for the 2004 version still sends chills down my spine.