In a world with one less voice


Don LaFontaine, the undisputed viceroy of voice-overs, died Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center of complications from the treatment of an ongoing lung-related illness. He was 68.

LaFontaine provided voice-overs for an estimated 5,000 movie trailers, including "Batman Returns," "The Terminator," "The Elephant Man" and "Dr. Strangelove." Many of those began with his catchphrase, "In a world where …"

The world LaFontaine inhabited was one where his voice was hugely familiar, though his name was not. But in that world, he was king. "He basically changed and reinvented the narrative and presentation sound of a trailer," voice artist George DelHoyo said. "It used to be more of giving names of who was in the film. He gave it urgency, importance, intelligence and a point of view."

LaFontaine and his dramatic vocal cords were in demand for commercials as well. In one series of spots for Geico Insurance in 2006, he even parodied his trademark style. He played himself telling a customer, "In a world where both of our cars were totally under water … "

LaFontaine was presented with a lifetime achievement honor at The Hollywood Reporter's 34th annual Key Art Awards in 2005.

In an interview last year, he noted the strategy behind his catchphrase.

"We have to very rapidly establish the world we are transporting them to," he said. "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."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.