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The Trailer King, Don LaFontaine, Dies at 68

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Don LaFontaine was known for his performances behind the scenes in Hollywood. LaFontaine was considered by many to be "The Trailer King" for his voice-over performances in movie trailers. He died at the age of 68.

LaFontaine voiced over thousands of movie trailers including Disney's The Lion King. He did voice-over work for radio and television networks for their commercials and promotions.

LaFontaine died on Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles due to complications of treatment for an ailment. His family said the illness was not specified.

LaFontaine has been called several things throughout his life, including "Thunder Throat," "The Voice of God," and "the highest-paid movie-trailer narrator" in Hollywood.

Some argue that LaFontaine sounded like he was speaking from the bottom of a well. He nararrated movie trailer classics such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Fatal Attraction, and The Terminator.

His unique voice was heard on the television show, M*A*S*H, and hit blockbusters such as The Godfather, Ghostbusters, Home Alone, L.A. Confidential, Independence Day, and 5,000 other movies.

"The industry is mourning the loss of a true Hollywood legend," Linda Bell Blue, the producer of Entertainment Tonight, for which LaFontaine was the voice of the shows, said.

"Don was not only the reference standard in the voice-over community for his skills, but gave back to all who reached out to him. Movie trailers and television promos will never be the same," said Blue.

"People think what I do is just like radio announcing, but it's not," said LaFontaine during a 1995 interview with the San Diego Tribune.

LaFontaine considered himself to be a voice actor, "You want to take the audience out of their seats, out of their homes, out of their complacency and pull them into the story. You want to make that trailer so compelling that they have to go buy a ticket just to find out how the movie ends," he said.

In the early '90s, LaFontaine became increasingly busy; the voice actor was driven via chauffeured limousine for promotions. LaFontaine said he could do as many as 35 promotions in one day and 60 promotions a week. Several years later, he began working in his home studio, receiving scripts via facsimile transmission.

For the most part, LaFontaine was anonymous, until he appeared on a car insurance commercial in 2006 as "that announcer guy from the movies."

LaFontaine was born on Aug. 26, 1940 in Duluth, Minn. He worked as a recording engineer for the Army and became a Sound Engineer-Editor at National Recording Studios in New York City.

In the early '60s, LaFontaine was sent to pair up with radio producer Floyd Peterson, who was working on a commercial for Doctor Strangelove. Peterson's company was later one of the major commercial creators for the movie industry.

LaFontaine began his career when one of the voice actors for the movie, Gunfighters of Casa Grande, did not show up and he stepped in.

In 1978, LaFontaine joined Paramount Pictures as the head of the Trailer department. After leaving the studio in 1981 as Vice President, he went back to an independent producer and became heavily involved in voice-over work.

"I don't think there will ever be another career quite like mine. It can't be duplicated. I came into the field of movie promos just as it was being born. I had the opportunity to work in virtually every style, mostly reading copy that I had written or co-written. Many of the younger narrators of today grew up hearing me. And right or wrong, it became a sort of template for how trailers should be read," he once told Swindle magazine.

LaFontaine is survived by his wife, Nita, and three daughters, Christine, Skye, and Elyse, as well as one grandson.