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In a world...
September 1, 2008 10:37 PM   Subscribe

Said to be the busiest actor in Hollywood -- ever, Don LaFontaine was this generation's most prolific announcer, in the traditional sense of the word, lending his voice to all the major American television networks, and redefining the movie trailer. LaFontaine has died of complications from a collapsed lung at 68.

A typical Fox promo featuring his distinctive voiceover.

In the last decade or so, LaFontaine came to be recognized as the man and the name behind the voice, and was not above self-parody.

Don tells his story.

Previously. (via)
posted by evilcolonel (94 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by Pope Guilty at 10:42 PM on September 1, 2008


In a world...
posted by blue_beetle at 10:43 PM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


This link is the best...

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posted by schyler523 at 10:46 PM on September 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


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posted by dhammond at 10:46 PM on September 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


Duluth native. Minnesota is the center of everything in the world right now.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:49 PM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


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:'(
posted by Talez at 10:50 PM on September 1, 2008


Don LaFontaine is finally free from a world he never made.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:51 PM on September 1, 2008 [13 favorites]


Pablo Francisco does an imitation stand up routine.
posted by schyler523 at 10:52 PM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by brundlefly at 11:08 PM on September 1, 2008


Aw, nuts. :(
posted by katillathehun at 11:12 PM on September 1, 2008



posted by ALongDecember at 11:13 PM on September 1, 2008



Besides his famous "In a world..." stuff, his amazing voice was far more a part of entertainment culture than many realize, since the late 60s. (He also did The Godfather Pt. 2 trailer in 1974). He will be sorely missed.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 11:14 PM on September 1, 2008


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posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:18 PM on September 1, 2008


I always loved this ABC interview, where you find out he didn't just say things like "In a world...," he wrote them.
posted by ALongDecember at 11:19 PM on September 1, 2008


. x 5000
posted by scody at 11:20 PM on September 1, 2008


This was linked from the last post, but this is a version with much better audio:

5 Guys In A Limo.

Boy, it's sad to lose that guy. A voice so omnipresent that it almost defined his time.
posted by Malor at 11:25 PM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by wanderingmind at 11:27 PM on September 1, 2008


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posted by doctor_negative at 11:31 PM on September 1, 2008


The American movie trailer is going to be different now; he dominates the field so heavily. Essentially, if a big budget movie's trailer doesn't use him, it probably doesn't use voice-over. He will be missed.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:58 PM on September 1, 2008


o (too big for a .)
posted by pjern at 12:09 AM on September 2, 2008


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posted by Tacodog at 12:20 AM on September 2, 2008


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posted by h00py at 12:26 AM on September 2, 2008


-- one man stood alone -- ready to take on any challenge -- a savior of lost causes -- yet he remained unknown to all but a few -- this man -- was known as -- the voice
posted by dhartung at 12:42 AM on September 2, 2008


Bookhouse: Not quite true. His style has been widely imitated (see 5 guys video).
posted by dhartung at 12:45 AM on September 2, 2008


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posted by Iridic at 1:05 AM on September 2, 2008


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posted by Donnie VandenBos at 1:06 AM on September 2, 2008


The other 4 guys in that limo, along with hundreds of other Voice-Over professionals, mourn him tonight, but can look forward to calls from their agents in the morning as the 'Voice Biz' just opened up a little bit. (And trailer producers, after automatically calling LaFontaine for literally decades, are going "Oh, shit, we have to do AUDITIONS now?") Maybe I'm not showing enough respect, but I will actually enjoy hearing some different voices on movie trailers and TV promos. (Disclaimer: I've had some friends in the 'Voice Biz' including a couple who got out of it during the era of LaFontaine Domination)
posted by wendell at 1:25 AM on September 2, 2008


And trailer producers, after automatically calling LaFontaine for literally decades, are going "Oh, shit, we have to do AUDITIONS now?"

Not quite. Miguel Ferrer's been doing a lot of voiceovers these days.

I'm going to find my old Powerslave game disc in tribute, which features Don's talents as narrator and the voice of Ra.
posted by Smart Dalek at 2:13 AM on September 2, 2008


Sorry. Ramses.
posted by Smart Dalek at 2:15 AM on September 2, 2008


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posted by Shepherd at 2:31 AM on September 2, 2008


In a world…. one man….. this summer….
posted by edmcbride at 2:55 AM on September 2, 2008


I will actually enjoy hearing some different voices on movie trailers and TV promos.

Just because they come out of different bodies, I wouldn't assume they will be different voices.
posted by DU at 3:03 AM on September 2, 2008


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posted by Happy Dave at 3:13 AM on September 2, 2008


D'oh!
posted by Yoshi Ayarane at 3:37 AM on September 2, 2008


RIP, Mr. LaFontaine...thankfully Hal Douglas is still with us.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 3:50 AM on September 2, 2008


While Mr LaFontaine's passing is undoubtedly a great loss to the industry, and my sympathies are with his family, we have to look on the bright side - now FINALLY maybe we can have more voiceovers from Gilbert Gottfried and Fran Drescher.
posted by kcds at 3:53 AM on September 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


Sad. I really liked this dude.

5 Guys In A Limo rules.
posted by bdave at 4:31 AM on September 2, 2008


fuck. I worked with him six times. a true professional.
now it's all hal, I guess.

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posted by krautland at 4:41 AM on September 2, 2008


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posted by about_time at 5:00 AM on September 2, 2008


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posted by tommasz at 5:07 AM on September 2, 2008


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posted by lester at 5:20 AM on September 2, 2008


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posted by Spatch at 5:20 AM on September 2, 2008


I didn't recognise him (with his wig on) in 5 Guys in a Limo
posted by A189Nut at 5:21 AM on September 2, 2008


Sorry he died. He did have an interesting type of voice. I wonder if he had a longer vocal tract?
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posted by nickyskye at 5:26 AM on September 2, 2008


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posted by aerotive at 5:41 AM on September 2, 2008


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posted by fiercecupcake at 5:55 AM on September 2, 2008


With todays modern computer tech AND all the samples of his voice, I'm sure he can be replaced.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:56 AM on September 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Now all the great ones are gone: Johnny Olson, John Facenda, and now Don LaFontaine.
posted by briank at 6:17 AM on September 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by Ber at 6:22 AM on September 2, 2008


A legend. Heard by all, seen by few. Great voice. RIP, Don.
posted by davidmsc at 6:22 AM on September 2, 2008


Beau Weaver also keeps busy voicing trailers in the same style. He also offers a free ringtone.

rough ashlar: With todays modern computer tech AND all the samples of his voice, I'm sure he can be replaced.

Probably true. Ernie Anderson has been dead for several years, but his voice tracks are still available for use on YOUR radio station.
posted by evilcolonel at 6:44 AM on September 2, 2008


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posted by joedan at 6:49 AM on September 2, 2008


No movie trailer is good and/or effective without someone screaming "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!" so I'm adding it here, too.

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posted by WolfDaddy at 6:51 AM on September 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


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Drag, he didn't get to retire and laugh as 1,001 rookies try to imitate him. We will, unfortunately.
posted by Artful Codger at 6:51 AM on September 2, 2008


Has anyone else noticed that trailers have seemed to be moving away from voiceovers in recent years? It seems like many are using text captions, or nothing at all.
posted by good in a vacuum at 6:52 AM on September 2, 2008


Damn. The man was a cultural touchstone. The world is going to sound just a little bit different from now on.

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posted by Faint of Butt at 6:55 AM on September 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Saw this posted on a voiceover blog on Aug 26th :

"For those unaware, Don is in the hospital in critical condition with a blood clot lodged in his lungs.

Below is a letter from his wife Nita. Please read it and send your thoughts and prayers. - Stewart Wilson-Turner

“Dear friends and family,

I need you help and I’m reaching out to all of you. My wonderful husband is in critical condition at Cedar Sinai hospital; a blood clot is lodged in his lung and he is fighting for his life. This happened on Saturday after I’d taken him in for shortness of breath on Friday. He was doing very well and I left him talking and being funny on Friday evening. Without all the details, I got a call on Saturday morning as I was heading there to visit. There has been some lovely improvement yesterday but he is very sick right now. We need your concentrated prayers! Have your churches synagogues, temples send out prayers for Don’s healing and wellness. Light a candle, chant, whatever you do to send that loving energy and light to him, I would appreciate. And save a little for the girls and me. We have had small miracles already and if we all shout up to God collectively, I know how powerful that can be. He is fighting and we all are fighting with him. He is strong and is a warrior so I thank you in advance for your prayers, good wishes and kindness on behalf of my family.

With a hopeful heart,

Nita and family”
posted by Liosliath at 7:02 AM on September 2, 2008


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posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:19 AM on September 2, 2008


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posted by The Light Fantastic at 7:38 AM on September 2, 2008


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posted by jamuraa at 8:06 AM on September 2, 2008


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posted by flibbertigibbet at 8:22 AM on September 2, 2008


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posted by Tesseractive at 8:25 AM on September 2, 2008


In the fantastic youtube video cited above, Don mentioned that his voice changed suddenly at 13. Since according to his myspace page, Don was Jewish, I only wish I could've been at his Bar Mitzvah!

"In world where the Torah unfurls before generations permed and plaid, one boy stands alone. This summer...I...am....a fountainpen!"
posted by ericbop at 8:29 AM on September 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


A legend indeed, this is really sad. It's as if MGM only ever used one lion and now that lion's dead. Cool, cool guy, he will be missed no matter how many impersonators he has out there.
posted by matteo at 8:30 AM on September 2, 2008


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I found it great that he would take the time to record things like people's answering machine messages, and even a narration for a short high school video about a calculus class. He took himself seriously but also seemed very down to earth and funny.
posted by mrbill at 8:33 AM on September 2, 2008


"Now it's all hal..."

Hal Riney?
posted by bz at 8:45 AM on September 2, 2008


Hal Douglas.
posted by zarq at 8:59 AM on September 2, 2008


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:(

His spot on NPR's Wait, Wait! can be heard here.
posted by zarq at 9:01 AM on September 2, 2008


He's dead?
(Wilhelm Scream)
posted by hal9k at 9:07 AM on September 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


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posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:13 AM on September 2, 2008


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posted by lysistrata at 9:13 AM on September 2, 2008


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posted by kuppajava at 9:28 AM on September 2, 2008


IN A WORLD where at funerals, people just go up to each other and say "Period.", ONE MAN dares to challenge the system. NOW, MORE THAN EVER ... your heart will be warmed by ... The Non-One-Fucking-Character Non-Lazy Eulogy. Rated PG-13.
posted by WCityMike at 9:58 AM on September 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Show of hands: Who else's life is narrated internally, down to mundane details, by his voice? "THIS EVENING.. ONE BRUSH.. WILL SCRUB ALL TEETH." Very sad to see him go, and with him part of the magic of movies.

(Wilhelm x2)
posted by jake at 10:00 AM on September 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


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I'm imagining his eulogy will be given by Squeaky Voiced Teen from The Simpsons.
posted by sapere aude at 10:38 AM on September 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by lilkeith07 at 11:06 AM on September 2, 2008


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posted by jdherg at 11:45 AM on September 2, 2008


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posted by MythMaker at 11:59 AM on September 2, 2008


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posted by fixedgear at 12:02 PM on September 2, 2008


zarq's link to the trailer for Comedian made me realize how much I loved the voice-over guys back when I first saw it.

To this day, whenever I'm mentally composing a fictitious trailer, it always starts "In a world..."
posted by quin at 12:24 PM on September 2, 2008


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posted by Sphinx at 1:00 PM on September 2, 2008


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I'll miss hearing you, Don.
posted by gummi at 1:58 PM on September 2, 2008


It bums me out to think that LaFontaine is dead. I prefer to believe that he just got a much-deserved promotion to Metatron. Good luck in your new job, Don!
posted by ourobouros at 3:18 PM on September 2, 2008


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Trailers won't be the same without him.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:36 PM on September 2, 2008


I hope he gets into heaven, because I think he would make a great announcer for the Second Coming.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:47 PM on September 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


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posted by SageLeVoid at 7:41 PM on September 2, 2008


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posted by saslett at 8:31 PM on September 2, 2008


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posted by wastelands at 8:32 PM on September 2, 2008


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posted by lundman at 8:42 PM on September 2, 2008


When the voiceover is not your own,
one man took a stand...

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posted by Samizdata at 10:01 PM on September 2, 2008


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posted by mustard seeds at 10:08 PM on September 2, 2008


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posted by JT at 10:35 PM on September 2, 2008


When LaFontaine played Wait, Wait's "Not My Job" game, Peter Sagal and company asked him to record intros for the various shows that can be heard on NPR.

About halfway through this episode, right before NPR host Terry Gross is quizzed, they played his version of her show's intro.

LaFontaine's booming voice announces: "This is Fresh Air! I'm Terry Gross!"

He also did a faux intro for Car Talk, but I haven't been able to find that online.
posted by zarq at 6:50 AM on September 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


Two weeks late (me and Don).

Bummer.
posted by yiftach at 10:34 PM on September 15, 2008


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