By: Scott RossPublished: August 26, 2022

Don LaFontaine

Mel Blanc, the man behind the likes of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd, is perhaps the most beloved and best known celebrity vocal star of all time, but nipping at his heels is Don LaFontaine, the man who provided the narration to more than 5,000 movie trailers during a career a that earned him the nickname "The Voice of God." LaFontaine was born August 26, 1940.

LaFontaine's journey down the road to becoming the Voice of God took a sudden turn during puberty.

"When I was thirteen years old, my voice changed--in the middle of a sentence. 'Mom, I'll help you with the dishes,'" he once explained, his voice dropping three octaves after the word "I'll." "Literally, it never went back."

The change was so sudden that when he went to school the following day, he was self-conscious enough that he tried not to talk. When the teacher finally insisted he speak, he said "What do you want me to say?" and with that got sent to the principal's office, the teacher assuming he was doing a bit.

LaFontaine joined the Army after high school and was assigned to work as a recording engineer for the United States Army Band and Chorus; from there took a job with the National Recording Studios in New York, and went on to start a company dedicated to making movie trailers.

Like Lou Gehrig before him, LaFontaine's shot at greatness came about because someone else failed one day to lace 'em up, proving once again Woody Allen's classic maxim "Showing up is 80 percent of life." It seems that the voice talent LaFontaine had hired couldn't make a session for the recording of a trailer for 1965's “Gunfighters of Casa Grande", so LaFontaine got on the mic and did it himself and he liked what he heard.

By 1976, LaFontaine started his own company and his very first job was the trailer for one of he greatest films ever made, The Godfather II.

In 1978 he joined Paramount Pictures as their in-house trailer guy, before moving to Los Angeles to work freelance. Over the course of his career, LaFontaine would do the voiceover work for more than 5,000 movies trailers, and his trademark line "In a world..." became so iconic that when actress/writer/director Lake Bell made a movie about a woman who dreams of doing movie trailer voiceovers, she called it In a World...

“We have to very rapidly establish the world we are transporting them to," LaFontaine once said, in explaining his fondness for the phrase. "That’s very easily done by saying: ‘In a world where ... violence rules,’ ‘In a world where ... men are slaves and women are the conquerors.’ You very rapidly set the scene.”

When and where the phrase started is unclear, but one of its very first incarnations was in the trailer for Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior.

LaFontaine, whose golden voice was a product of not just puberty, but perhaps also thirty-year relationship with cigarettes, died on September 1, 2008, following a pulmonary embolism suffered ten days earlier. He was 68.

The last promo he ever did was for the cartoon Phineas and Ferb, which ended fittingly with "In a world... There, I said it. Happy?"

Related Articles