You may not know his name, but you know his voice. He’s Don LaFontaine, the King of Movie Trailers, and he’s arguably one of the most prolific and famous voice actors.
But he wasn’t just a movie voice-over artist. Don LaFontaine was an accomplished voice actor who worked across movies, television, radio, and more, working across many different genres and mediums that use voice-overs.
If you needed a voice to elevate your project and make it memorable, Don LaFontaine was your go-to voice talent.
A Career in Voice Over Work
Don LaFontaine was born on August 26, 1940, in Duluth, Minnesota. Don LaFontaine started his career as a recording engineer in the U..S. Army. Later, he continued his engineering work at the National Recording Studios in New York City. There he met radio producer Floyd L. Peterson. This began a successful collaboration that would lead to the two forming Floyd L. Peterson Inc., which focused on advertising for motion pictures.
In 1976 he started his own production company, Don LaFontaine Associates. His first job at his new company was narrating the trailer for Francis Ford Coppola’s critically acclaimed movie, The Godfather Part II.
Two years later he joined Paramount Pictures, where he headed their trailer department for three years. Flexible, passionate, and articulate in his approach, Don continued his voice work.
He would become the voice-over guy, solidifying his reputation as a prolific voice actor and an iconic voice of Hollywood. Over the years Don provided voice work for iconic movies such as The Terminator, Terminator 2, Die Hard, Batman Returns, Stuart Little, Ratatouille, and The Simpsons Movie. He also did voice work for long-running television shows such as America’s Most Wanted and Jeopardy. He even appeared in front of the camera, starring as himself in a Geico commercial, which parodied his voice-over work for movie trailers. Suddenly, audiences could put a face to the famous “movie guy” voice.
Don LaFontaine’s Legacy
For his contribution to the film industry, Don LaFontaine was honored at the 2000 Cannes International Film Festival. He also received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2005 Hollywood Reporter’s Key Art Awards.
By the time of his death in 2008, Don had recorded narration for thousands of movie trailers and radio and television spots. It’s estimated he recorded voiceovers for over 5,000 films. Based on the sheer number of contracts signed, he may have been the busiest actor in the then 75-year history of the Screen Actors Guild.
Don has also been immortalized by the catchphrase, “In a world where...” a phrase he coined as a way of rapidly setting a scene. His catchphrase became so popular, it was often parodied.
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