You've certainly heard the voice and lately it seems you may have seen the legend as well. Forever known as the orator of that ominous introduction, "In a world....." or "In a time.....", Don LaFontaine's presence certainly ingrains itself within the world of Hollywood mystique. If ever you entered a theater or turned on the television, the odds are that Don LaFontaine has spoken to you with that booming baritone. To date I've seen Don's early morning appearances on The Early Show, Today, and Good Morning America doing humorous sketches that highlight his amazing vocal abilities. In 2007 he appeared twice on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and was an integral part of the Academy Awards. His talent on screen infuses itself with Don's unique and sonorous voice . Most famous for his 5000 voice spots on movie trailers like The Godfather, Cast Away, Daddy Day Care, and Terminator, he also provides spots for radio and television advertisements. Don LaFontaine is perhaps one of the individuals most responsible for revolutionizing the way Hollywood and the major studios promote themselves and their movies. In fact, Don may in no small way be responsible for the way we see the advertising world as a whole in modern times. Not bad for a boy from Duluth, Minnesota.
Don headed the film trailer company Kaleidoscope Films and later became the "voice" of Paramount in 1978. After succeeding with these endeavors people in the entertainment business encouraged him to more aggressively pursue a career utilizing his vocal skills. The rest is as they say, history. I admired Don's unique gift for years but never managed to get a glimpse of the man behind the voice. Recently the popular and well-received Geico Insurance commercials hit the airwaves and I saw the commercial featuring Don. My curiosity spurred me to search for information about Mr. LaFontaine on the web. I found Don's website, read about his life and accomplishments, and thought I should make an attempt to contact him. Usually when trying to contact a famous figure one is lucky to find any contact information at all. Not only did I contact Don through e-mail, he graciously returned my correspondence with a personal e-mail. That means a lot in this day in age when actors and entertainers in the spotlight find it all too convenient to disavow the fan bases that make the entertainment industry the multi-billion dollar powerhouse it is today.
Of course I've printed his emails and stretched the truth to family and friends letting them believe Don and I are old pals. I've literally pulled people and family members from the street and quiet slumber when a LaFontaine piece airs. I tell them with excited enthusiasm, "Hey, I know that guy, that's Don LaFontaine!" I maintain that having a Hollywood connection must be kept secret as I wouldn't want the information contained in my secret meetings with him to become public. If I keep up the ruse long enough perhaps I'll convince myself that I am a successful person in Hollywood just like him, at least until the power company shuts my lights off. And Don just so you know, I spend time practicing my own version of "In a world" but up to this point my rendition sounds more like a distressed gopher's yelps while being squeezed in the clutches of an industrial vise. I wouldn't consider me competition just yet! I would however appreciate a phone call sometime that I can record and play for friends at parties. Besides being a great thrill, it would further propagate my "I'm famous because I hang with Don LaFontaine theory" I am working on. But then I'd have to worry about his invoice for providing such a service and I am not quite ready to take out a second mortgage on the house. However, if Don ever finds reason to travel to Billings, MT I will be shocked and offended if he doesn't contact me!
In summation I penned this tribute to Mr. LaFontaine because he is a Hollywood legend. His contributions to the world of entertainment are too substantial and lofty to be properly detailed in this article. We go to the movies or watch particular programs to escape or to feel that nostalgic tie to our own unique set of dreams and fantasies. Don's voice carries us there. He is the conduit that transports us from our seats and into the screen and beyond. His words and mesmerizing tones make our hearts race and thoughts dance as we enter that world of Hollywood movie magic. Don, thank you for your contributions and I wish you and your lovely wife Nita Whitaker all the best.