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Tribute: Don LaFontaine

posted by Nell Minow

I was very sorry to hear of the passing of Don LaFontaine. Few people knew his name but everyone knew his voice. He did the narration for more than 5000 movie trailers. You’ve heard him say it dozens of times: “In a world….” The trailers were not always enticing, but his voice always was, familiar, inviting, almost intimate. I will miss having him adding so much excitement to the anticipation of coming attractions.

I love this spoof with LaFontaine and his colleagues.

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And here is a clip about LaFontaine and his work.

  • jestrfyl

    I just saw the news that Don LaFontaine died today. His is one the THE voices for our generation. How many of us have our own personal soundtrack promoting our own lives, and his is the voice we hear?
    There are dozens of great voices, but his is the one that many people want telling their story, or at least the highlights. I think only Don Pardo has as recognizable a non-actors voice. He will be well missed.
    I recall your piece on Villains voices. Who do you think are the great voices of our time (generously defined). I would list:
    James Earl Jones
    Charleton Heston (hate his politics, loved his voice)
    Mel Blanc
    Don Pardo
    Don LaFontaine
    Morgan Freeman
    Patrick Stewart
    Boris Karloff – (“You’re a Mean One, Mr Grinch”)
    I noticed there are no women. Except for animation, there are no readily recognizable women’s voices. Am I simply being an ignorant chauvinist, or is this true? Perhaps with Mr LaFontaine’s passing there is an opening for someone with a sense of urgency and importance, yet that feminine touch that eases and soothes.

  • Nell Minow

    Great question! I am very much a voice person. I agree with all the ones you have listed. I love Mel Blanc’s Bugs Bunny voice and once saw him on television talking about how he wanted Bugs to sound tough so he combined Bronx and Brooklyn accents. I was amazed to hear Morgan Freeman say in an interview I attended that he lowered his voice an octave in vocal training exercises. For men, among the classic old-style actors I loved the voices of Don Ameche and William Holden. Among young actors I like Edward Burns. And there’s nothing like a classically trained Shakespearean actor — not just Patrick Stewart but also Ian McKellan, Laurence Olivier, John Guilgood.
    And there are many actresses with wonderful voices. I like a hint of huskiness and so am partial to Blythe Danner, Lauren Bacall, Margaret Sullivan and some newcomers like Gabrielle Union.
    I am always interested in how hard it is to predict who can do a good job with voice-overs. First-rate actors are usually not as good as comic actors and stand-up comics. “Ice Age” and “Shrek” with comedians turned actors are a good examples — and think of Robin Williams in “Aladdin.”

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