Monday, September 1, 2008

In memoriam - Don LaFontaine

Today, Don LaFontaine, my pseudo-uncle, died at Cedars Sinai Hospital. My mother was the goddaughter of his middle child and for the past 20 years, he watched me grow up. I enjoyed attending the many performances by his wife, Nita Whitaker, a truly phenomenal singer and possibly the sweetest and most luminous person that I've ever had the fortune to know. During her events, Don was always in his usual location - behind a videocamera, recording his wife and beaming with pride.

Although he had been in the ICU since last week (Mr. Insomniac and I were able to visit and bring food to the family and friends camped out in the waiting room and spend time Nita), there were signs that he was improving. When my mom called me with the news this evening, I was so disappointed.

Even though you've never met Don, you've definitely heard him. He's been described as the "voice over king" and for more than 30 years has voiced movie trailers for more than nearly 5,000 films, for every major award show, and for every television network. He's that guy that says... "In a world far away... a man... a woman... together... in love... etc." On his resume are the trailers from Ghost, Indiana Jones, Aliens, the Godfather, Star Wars, Batman - basically every blockbuster that you can think of from the 1970s to the present. Because he basically crafted the industry single-handedly, he's been the dominant voice-over guy in the industry and has recorded and written script for thousands of films. I think one of my favorites was the one for Terminator 2.

In recent years, he's poked fun at his career and done humorous commercials -

and spoofs -

and I even now as I write this, I just heard a trailer featuring his voice.

But what I will remember most about Don was his larger than life personality, his warmth to me and others, and above all else, his love and devotion to his wife and family. When I was younger, their marriage was my "role model relationship" and I hate to be in a world where they are apart. Much love to Nita and their two girls....

Movies won't be the same for me without him.