He was probably the most famous man in all Hollywood. Nobody who ever went to the movies in the last 40 years can fail to recognise him. But yet only a fraction of you out there would know his real name and even less would know his face. Often dubbed simply "movie trailer guy", the most iconic voice in Hollywood, Don LaFontaine, has died at age 68.
LaFontaine was admitted to Cedar-Sinai on August 22nd with a blood clot on his lungs. He died Monday as a result of complications from a collapsed lung. He leaves a wife and three daughters.
The gravelly voiced star started out as a recording engineer and through contacts there began his voiceover career doing radio spots promoting Stanley Kubrick's Dr Strangelove. His career took off from there, and from the late 70s through to modern times he became the go-to guy to give even the most absurd and cheap direct-to-video movie that extra gravitas and push during promotion. He has reportedly recorded thousands of voice-overs over the years, and his catchphrase "In a world..." became a cheesy cliche scene-setter and a target for satirists everywhere.
However, LaFontaine seemed like a pretty genuine down-to-earth guy, never afraid to poke fun at the public image of his job, often appearing in commercials and TV spots spoofing himself and his work and even a comedy skit featuring himself and four other Hollywood voice-over artists in a limo. However, with regards to his serious work, he always took a job for a small movie just as seriously as he did a big budget production. "My philosophy is that you have to really believe what you're reading, even if you think the film's a piece of junk. Even the worst picture is someone's favorite film, and that someone is the fan I am always talking to."
While other deep-voiced artists such as Peter Cullen and Hal Douglas all have a similar style of voice-over and will continue that movie-making legacy of over-sincere gravelly voiced command, Don was the original "Don" of trailer voiceovers. Ironic for a man who lent his voice to the Godfather trailer.
Below in tribute are some of LaFontaine's movie work as well as some of his more tongue-in-cheek send ups of himself.
The Elephant Man
24: Season 5
5 Men And A Limo
Fox Superbowl Spot