Wednesday, September 03, 2008

In a World Where Voiceover Artists Are a Dime a Dozen, This Guy Stood Out

If I came up to you and said "Don LaFontaine died this week," you might well say, "Aw, that's too bad. And who exactly is Don LaFontaine again?"

And I guess you'd have a point; Don was not a household name, though all kinds of people are familiar with his work.

OK--suppose I told you that he was this guy:

Now you recognize him, right?

LaFontaine, one of the premier voiceover artists in the nation, did indeed pass away over the weekend. He made nearly 300,000 commercials and around 5,000 movie trailers in a 33-year career, and not all of them began with "In a world where...", although that was certainly one of his favorite catchphrases. That didn't come about by accident, either:
"We have to very rapidly establish the world we are transporting them to," he said of his viewers. "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."
As a guy who did voiceover work for my college radio station (and wouldn't at all mind to dabble it again, if the situation came up), I can truly say that LaFontaine was one of those guys that everyone wanted to emulate, even if we only knew him as "The Movie Guy" until a few years ago, when he did that satirical GEICO commercial that finally revealed the name and face behind the voice. At an age when many people have retired to the golf course, he remained active until nearly the end of his life, doing seven to ten voiceovers a day. (Nice work, if you can get it.)

More info about Don can be found at his WIkipedia page, his website, and this short YouTube documentary.

R.I.P., Don. Your voice will live on.

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