What, and Give Up Show Biz?

Don LaFontaine died September 1. He was a prolific voice artist for movie trailers:

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…

LaFontaine remained active until recently, averaging seven to 10 voiceover sessions a day.

When I took a voice-over class a few years ago he was held up as the gold standard, living the life everyone aspired to, picked up by limo and delivered from studio to studio to narrate trailers and commercials throughout the day.

That, in any case, was the legend. Computer technology had made such strides that for the last few years LaFontaine could do a lot of his work in his home studio.

LaFontaine worked constantly, in contrast to voice-over students scuffling to land any kind of low-paying radio commercial. There is so much competition in Hollywood that working at all is a degree of success in and of itself. Our instructor had credits, which set her above the wanna-bes — it didn’t matter in the least if the work was announcing weekly sales for Piggly Wiggly.

I have a nice enough voice, but as the late LaFontaine said, it’s the reading, the interpretation, that really counts. No matter how much passion I put into reading copy about ceiling fans, I always seemed to sound like Worf on ST:TNG.

My only quasi-professional voice work has been recording the caller menu for our local office phone system. Unfortunately, I’m well into the last seconds of my 15 minutes of fame. Our office is replacing its phone system with a digital phone network that runs off a server in Fresno and uses AT&T’s canned vocals. All glory is fleeting.

However, I did pass an audition and get added to a panel of instructors, some of whom will go back to Philadelphia in December to voice some training material that will be used nationally. Maybe I can make a comeback!

Note also:

Podcast interview with Don LaFontaine

YouTube with Don LaFontaine

1 thought on “What, and Give Up Show Biz?

  1. I met him a few times through my brother the voice actor. He was a very nice guy, too, not arrogant or condescending at all. It is certainly unusual for someone to make such a good living out of voiceover work but he definitely was the gold standard.

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