A man that many people feel was the greatest voiceover talent in history passed away on September 1, 2008. Just eight days after his death at the age of 68, a “Celebration of Life Tribute” was held in Don LaFontaine’s honor at the Writer’s Guild Theater in Beverly Hills, California. The evening was a smashing success. From a full gospel choir to filmed sequences paying honor to Don’s legacy to music performed by The Taiko Project, Arnold McCuller, Jenifer Lewis, Adam A’ejaye Jackson and the incomparable David Foster, a life well lived was celebrated in grand style. Nearly 800 people attended, filling the theater to capacity and spilling out into the lobby where it would be standing room only as audience members watched on a monitor that had been set up especially for them.
Voiceover greats Joe Cipriano, Keri Tombazian and Bill Ratner spoke about Don’s career and his impact on their own. Other powerhouse voiceover artists, including Peter Thomas, Ben Patrick Johnson, Tom Kane, Randy Thomas, Townsend Coleman, Bob Bergen and Beau Weaver were either in the audience and/or appeared in audio tributes to “the King”. Don’s agents from the TGMD Talent Agency, including Steve Tisherman (the only agent Don ever had), Vanessa Gilbert, Kevin Motley and Ilko Drozdoski, spoke of working with this legendary artist, who voiced the trailers for over 5000 films and recorded literally hundreds of thousands of spots. Musical director Charles Randolph-Wright, South African music producer Cedric Samson and producer Lorin Dreyfuss would recall what it was like to have a personal friendship with the generous and amiable “DLF”.
Finally, Don’s wife, Nita Whitaker LaFontaine, spoke with elegance and humor as she recalled their nearly 20 years of marriage. He was her prince and treated her like a goddess, she said, before introducing their three daughters, Christine, Skye and Lisi.
Don was my best friend and as the Master of Ceremonies that night, it was my great honor to help produce this tribute to my old pal, whom I miss greatly. My production company filmed the evening’s celebration as a way to memorialize the event, not only for those who attended, but also for those who were unable to be there or had to be turned away.
The Don LaFontaine Celebration of Life Tribute DVD is now available for purchase with a minimum contribution of $25 ($30 for international orders), with “100% of the proceeds [going] to worthy causes in the Voiceover community and beyond.” Please visit ZUREKVO.com for product orders.
In related news, the Promax/BDA Awards has added a new category in honor of Don. TVWeek.com reports: “The Don LaFontaine Award will recognize outstanding work done by voice talent in entertainment promotion.” Winners at the annual event are juried selections and will be announced June 16-18, 2009 in New York.
Previous news: 3.11.2009 — AFTRA Honors Don LaFontaine.