Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Deafening Silence: Don Lafontaine Dies

August 26, 1940 – September 1, 2008

His deep voice soothed us while we groped in the dark for a good seat. His booming timbre distracted us from growing frustration at floors sticky with dried soda and melted candy. He was our tour guide to new worlds, new stories and new adventures. Today, that voice has gone silent with the passing of Don LaFontaine, the king of voiceovers.

One of the great ironies in this modern age of entertainment, where face is more often more important than voice, is that arguably the most famous voice on the planet was coupled with a name and face that almost nobody would recognize. He had the Geico commercial, of course, but there was actually some debate as to whether that was even really him, since seeing the voice with a face was so discordant to everyone who watched it. My buddy actually had the privilege of directing him in a short film that LaFontaine co-wrote, The Interrogation, one of the only other times we had the opportunity to actually SEE the guy.

He occupied a special place in modern pop culture, one which belongs definitively only to those of us who experienced it. His departure literally marks the end of an era.Trailers have little mass replay value, and the kids growing up right now will never know him, because a new voice will take his place. LaFontaine was ours and ours alone.

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