In a world of awesome trailers, “Voice of God” was supreme

Chris Kallio

Don LaFontaine, known throughout the country for his remarkable voice, died last week at the age of 68. LaFontaine’s resonant, exaggerated and often intimidating voice became the most famous in the world of trailers and commercials, earning him the industry nickname “the voice of God.”

His most famous and spoofed line was undoubtedly “In a world where.” followed by a dramatic hypothetical situation.

“We have to very rapidly establish the world we are transporting them to,” LaFontaine said of his viewers, according to a recent New York Times article.

“That’s very easily done by saying, ‘In a world where.violence rules.’ ‘In a world are slaves and women are the conquerors.’ You very rapidly set

the scene.”

Born in Duluth, Minn., he joined the Army and was assigned as a recording engineer. After he left the Army in the early 1960s, he joined a rapidly-growing advertising company.

In 1964, the Eurowestern “Gunfighters of Casa Grande” was released. Due to the unavailability of an announcer that day, LaFontaine quickly created a narration for radio spots for the film. MGM bought his performance, springing him into his career.

He became the head of the trailer department at Paramount Pictures, then returned to independent production and became the most sought-after voice for movie trailers, among them “Terminator,” “Fatal Attraction” and “The Elephant Man,” which he regarded as his favorite.

Sometimes his narration was a bit melodramatic, such as in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.”

“Once he was programmed to destroy the future,” the narration started. “Now his mission is to protect it.If you thought you had seen it all, look again. Arnold Schwarzenegger-‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day.’ This time he’s

back.for good!”

Other times, he was perhaps too cheesy, such as in “Batman Returns”

from 1992.

“From the sewers of Gotham, a new villain emerges. From the rooftops of Gotham, the ‘purrrfect’ enemy comes to life,” he said in reference to Catwoman. “And the only one who can save this city is a creature of the night.”

Some of them were humorous, such as “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.”

“There are those born to be winners,” he said, as Ben Stiller’s pompously perfect attributes dominated the screen. “And then there are these guys,” as the band of losers led by Vince Vaughn appeared on screen. “Now, to save the only place they call home, they’ll have to play the weirdest game on earth.grab life by the ball!”

And some of them were rather scary. “One.two.three.” he counted, accompanied by frightening music, until he reached thirteen. “‘Friday the 13th.’ You may only see it once.but that will be enough.”

No matter what genre he lent his voice to, the trailers were enhanced because of him. He wrote most of the spots and, according to his Web site, he voiced hundreds of thousands of movie, television and radio spots.

LaFontaine was often parodied, the funniest by comedian Pablo Francisco. Sometimes he even parodied himself, such during a guest appearance on “Frank TV” and recent GEICO commercials, almost always credited as “that announcer guy from the movies.”

LaFontaine is survived by his wife, the singer-actress Nita Whitaker, and his three daughters.

Contact all reporter Chris Kallio at [email protected].