Don LaFontaine: The Great One's
Voice Lives On In Fond Memories
Sept. 2, 2008
By John Florian
The voice-over community awakens breathless, shocked and saddened today with news that Don LaFontaine - the "King of Voice-Overs" and genial friend to all - has passed away. He was 68.
Recently admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, he died there Monday afternoon at 2:10, following nearly a year of medical struggles. (See earlier article.)
"The Don" was the voice-over industry's most recognized voice and also it's public face - a celebrity "in a world" where colleagues master the microphone unseen.
And to voice acting professionals, Don was an inspiring legend whose career story taught that talent, persistence and perfection was the path to success. His congeniality and helpful ways also set an industry tone.
Memories and tributes are pouring into voice-over industry blogs, newsletters and forums today. Many remember his chat and friendly greetings, and had photos taken with him at the Voice 2007 industry conference in Las Vegas in March 2007.
(Personal note: In that Voice 2007 receiving line, I received a hearty grin, handshake and offer of assistance from Don when I told him of plans to launch VoiceOverXtra that summer.)
GIVE FAMILY TIME
Much concern and well-wishing is expressed for Don's wife, Nita Whitaker and their three daughters.
Don's 30-year friend Paul Pape posted this announcement late yesterday on the VoiceOverUniverse social networking web site:
It is very hard to write these words. My friend, Don LaFontaine, the husband of a most beautiful wife, Nita and the father of three beautiful girls, passed away today at the age of 68. In a quite sudden reversal of the progress he had been making the last few days, Don took ill again and passed away at around 1:50PM this afternoon (9/1/08).
Out of respect for Don’s family, more details will be given at a later time. Nita is a wonderful mother and she is being very strong for her children at this moment. You would be proud of her. We need to give her and her family some time to absorb their loss. As for me, thank you very much. There have been so many spiritual warriors who have given everything they have for my best friend. I will miss him very much. More details to follow…
SAG's BUSIEST ACTOR
In a brief recap of Don's career, Entertainment Tonight tagged Don as not only "the preeminent voice in the movie trailer business," but also the voice of TV networks, shows, commercials and corporate projects.
"At last count, he has worked on nearly 5,000 films," ET writes, "(and) ... based on contracts signed, he has the distinction of being perhaps the single busiest actor in the history of SAG."
Certainly, much more will be said about this acting legend in days to come, as we mourn his loss and celebrate all that he has meant to us.