The Voice of God

10-Sep-08 2:59 PM by
Filed under Fade to Black; 1 comment.

Screen actors often lend their voices to various productions, from Morgan Freeman's narration of March of the Penguins to Orson Welles and Leonard Nimoy playing shapeshifting robots in Transformers: The Movie. Famed for their on-screen appearances, these actors often lend a voice that is difficult, if not impossible, to separate from their role; the audience hears not the animated character, but a well-known actor's voice.

More ubiquitous yet less recognized are actors who specialize in vocal media, whose tone, resonance, delivery, and diversity earn them a variety of roles. The late Richard Kiley, famous for his work with National Geographic, was written into the novel of Jurassic Park long before he took the actual role in the film adaptation. Frank Welker, though his work tends to lighter fare, has been more versatile by mimicking every sort of person, animal, and robot imaginable, often playing multiple roles in shows such as Animaniacs.

Don LaFontaine, on the other hand, almost always plays himself — and yet, after recording nearly 350,000 commercials and 5,000 film trailers, his name and face have remained generally unknown. For over four decades we have recognized and appreciated his work, including in satires such as the recent trailer for The Love Guru or this Geico commercial. Sadly, it is only post-humously that his name is now gaining widespread recognition, as Mr. LaFontaine passed away on September 1st from complications from a collapsed lung. The following video offers a glimpse into the life and times of the man behind the screen.