Tuesday, September 02, 2008

No Better World Than Don's... From the Heart

Sadly, this morning I came into work, after the last weekend of the summer to find out very sad news that Don LaFontaine had passed away over the weekend.

I must admit...I am somewhat shocked. Last week, on Voice123 Premium Forums, Bobbin Beam was kind enough to post a letter from Don LaFontaine. In this letter, I saw strength and determination to get passed his difficult illness. We at Voice123 are extremely saddened by this loss of an icon to the voice over industry.

To me, Don LaFontaine stood as the first person to really bring the voice over industry into the limelight, and no longer make it a 'faceless industry'. I still remember commercials I had seen him in while taking classes and matter what type of voice I listened to in my voice over class, be it male or female, every student listened to his work and thought, 'I wish I could sound like him.'

In fact, Don LaFontaine taught me the most important lesson about being in this industry in that you have to believe in yourself and be loyal to those you work with. Although he mentions it in the letter, years ago while being interviewed on NBC nightly news, a reporter asked him,
'How can every movie be the blockbuster hit of the summer? Is that possible?'.

Don simply replied, never shaking or doubting, and almost looking as if a friend's integrity had been questioned,

My teacher showing us the interview, paused the tape, looked at all of us and said,
'That it is a very, very smart man.'

We at Voice123 thank Don LaFontaine and will miss his legacy. He gave of himself to an industry, and in the act of opening up about his career to the public made so many people better whether he knew them or not, and changed the face of, or in this case, put a face on an industry.

As a tribute to him, out of admiration and appreciation for all the things he did and how much he contributed with his example to the voice over industry, Voice123 invites those of you who share this feeling today, to record a message expressing your thoughts about him, may our voices reach him and show him how thankful we are. Your message will be published in a tribute web page to Don LaFontaine.

If you would like to participate in our tribute to Don, please click here. (If asked, use the following verification code: 387207).

Our hearts and thoughts of the team at Voice123 go out to the friends and family of Don LaFontaine.

We wish you all the very best,

Steven Lowell
The Voice123 Team

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace


Marsha Graham said...

My heart is deeply saddened by the news of Don LaFontaine's passing - and his achingly poignant email to share his experiences before his death -
how generous he was to write that -
My prayers to his family and his spirit -

-and a huge thank you to him for his gift and service...we were all listening....

Marsha Graham

Robin Wolf said...

A fitting tribute to a man that blazed trails for all of us. Thanks for honoring him!

andee_1123 said...

Almost 2 years ago, I got myself into a one-night voice actors' Learning Annex workshop, one where the instructors consisted of an entire panel of working and accomplished voice actors and v.o agents, including, among many others, Joe Cipriano, Hattie Winston, Joan Baker, and the legendary Don LaFontaine. This venture was part of a very long history of doing radio & television promos & ads, tons of voice over classes and free-lance work, as well as delivering traffic on the air here in L.A. for almost 2 years. I had an on-camera commercial agent, but HAD to find strictly a voice over agent, so for inspiration and advice at the very least, I made sure and got signed up with this class.

A perk of this particular course on this night was that only 5 attendees out of about 200 would be chosen via a ticket drawing to be given the chance to read copy for this bunch and be critiqued by anyone on this panel. I waited anxiously as all ticket numbers were drawn and read to a very excited crowd. As luck would have it, MINE WAS DRAWN LAST! I felt like Charlie from Willie Wonka! I read an eye glasses ad given to me by DON LAFONTAINE for him to critique! I was soooo excited and nervous and read my copy, apparently well enough for him to say, "Well, you've obviously done this before. You should do voice over." I said, "Thank you - I have years in radio and more - I appreciate hearing that - you're my inspiration!" He smiled and said, "Now - try it this way with a little bit more.... sincerity...." I read it again in front of the entire room and got a huge applause afterwards. He and the entire panel said, "Good job!"

The next day I went through my entire list of voice over agents again and re-worked my letters, sent emails, called, etc. The next January, just 3 months after the workshop and after an exhaustive search for an agent to take me on, one finally called back and said they'd like to see me.... IT WAS DON'S VERY SAME AGENT! They signed me that day! Don didn't know me from Adam and would not have remembered me, but I'm sure he somehow nudged serendipity to get this done for me - they signed me in January of last year, and I have Don to thank for inspiring me to get this done! He had a great sense of humor, a great big heart, a style and wit all his own, and he will be very sorely missed.

Thanks, Don. Rest in peace.

-Andrea Nunn

Tom Wahl said...

I have been in shock all day over the loss of our dear friend Don LaFontaine. I feel like I have lost a friend. My heart is deeply saddened by Don's passing. He was the benchmark to which we all aspire.

Those who knew and admired Don will not be surprised to hear my story. One Sunday night in October of last year (2007), I e-mailed Don to share with him my great admiration of his voice work. He answered me less than 3 hours later with a "personal" note of thanks for what he called my "kind words to him". He shared genuine enthusiasm over my pursuit of a vo career and offered words of advice..."if you truly love voiceover work, don't give up. Keep trying and it will happen!." Don has inspired me to work even harder at the craft I truly love. It is a privilege and an honor to have contacted Don and to have had advice from the man who is The King Of Voiceovers. I will carry Don LaFontaine's kindness and encouragement with me always.

I join my vo colleagues in saying we will miss you deeply dear friend. God Bless you.

Tom Wahl

Jim Vann said...

There is Kleenex, Xerox, and there was Don LaFontaine. Who will be the standard, now. While I never had the pleasure of knowing the man, his talent and integrity were legendary. If, as I believe. heaven is found in one's legacy, Don's is secure. Godspeed.