Don LaFontaine arguably one of the most recognizable voiceover talents in movies has died. He was 68.
LaFontaine, who also did voice-over work on countless radio and network television promotional spots and commercials, died Monday of complications after treatment for an illness at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his family said. The illness was not specified.
LaFontaine had been doing trailer work since the 1960s. He was the voice of the 1974 ad campaign for “The Godfather Part II,” and he managed to turn a simple recitation of that classic film’s Oscar wins into a kind of sermon which echoed back to an earlier era when the Oscars deserved a voice full of gravitas, a time when movies and advertising had a different standard for quality and intensity.
Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, LaFontaine voiced trailers for all genres, but his gravely baritone, slightly scary, message-from-beyond kind-of delivery certainly lent itself best to horror, thrillers and sci-fi. Counting from one to 12 became a terrifying prospect with the ad for 1980’s original “Friday the 13th”. He added a chilling depth to the promos for 1984’s “The Terminator” and 1991’s “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”; And he brought fear and dread to the trailer for “Fatal Attraction.”
Of his work LaFontaine said “You have to bring a personal take on horror, love, drama, comedy, to make [a trailer] work.” He rose to the top of his profession because in three minutes or less audiences could grasp not only what a movie’s tone was supposed to be but also what LaFontaine brought to those three minutes. And he brought what we all do when we go to the movies: Anticipation and excitement for what happens when the house lights dim. In many ways LaFontaine made a better movie in three minutes than Hollywood typically makes in 2 hours.
LaFontaine is survived by his wife, Nita; daughters, Christine, Skye and Elyse; and a grandson.
NY Daily News