Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Don LaFontaine Dies

A short tribute video:

Don LaFontaine, the voice behind thousands of Hollywood movie trailers, many beginning with his trademark phrase "in a world where," has died. He was 68.LaFontaine died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center from complications in the treatment of an ongoing illness, said Vanessa Gilbert, his agent.

As the originator of the movie trailer catch-phrase, "In a world where," LaFontaine dominated the voiceover industry. He made more than 5,000 trailers in his 33-year career while working for the top studios and television networks.In a rare on-screen appearance in 2006, he parodied himself on a series of national television commercials for a car insurance company where he played himself telling a customer, "In a world where both of our cars were totally under water..."LaFontaine explained the strategy behind the phrase during an interview last year with The Associated Press.

"We have to very rapidly establish the world we are transporting them to," he said. "That's very easily done by saying, 'In a world where ... violence rules.' 'In a world where ... men are slaves and women are the conquerors.' You very rapidly set the scene."LaFontaine insisted he never cared that no one knew his name or his face, though everyone knew his voice.The voice that America came to know in movie houses and on television developed at age 13, when LaFontaine's prepubescent squeak began to grow deeper.

He went on to work in the promo industry during its infancy in the early 1960s. As an audio engineer, he produced radio spots for movies with producer Floyd Peterson.

When an announcer didn't show up for a recording session in 1965, LaFontaine voiced his first narration, a promo for the film, "Gunfighters of Casa Grande." The client, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, liked his performance.LaFontaine remained active until recently, averaging seven to 10 voiceover sessions a day. He worked from a home studio his wife nicknamed "The Hole," where his fax machine delivered scripts.LaFontaine is survived by his wife, the singer and actress Nita Whitaker, and three daughters.

His funeral arrangements were pending.