Monday, November 3, 2008


Have you ever been sitting there, vegging out in front of the TV when you suddenly hear that all-too-familiar booming voice promoting goodness knows what and you suddenly say to yourself, "Hokey toots! That same guy was talking earlier about Toyotas, and now he hocking horror flicks? What are the damn odds?" And then you realize you just said something as completely arbitrary and moronic as 'hokey toots' and you smack yourself in the crotch. The real point is, voice over guys are all over the place and pretty much run the gamut from television ads to radio spots to movie previews to TV station promos. And now, here are the most famous fifteen of all time.


Except for the fact that he's featured at 4:30 on the above montage, I could literally find nothing about this guy on the web, and that, these days, is insane! Anyway, we've all heard his crisp announcer chops working the background of the Oscars and many sporting events. Enjoy!


Keith David Williams (June 4, 1956), better known by the stage name Keith David, is an Emmy Award-winning American film, television, and voice actor. He is perhaps most known for his live action roles as Childs in John Carpenter's The Thing and King in Oliver Stone's Platoon. David is also well known for his voice work, including Goliath on the Disney series Gargoyles and the Arbiter in Halo 2 and Halo 3. Now for my money, I loved him in Men at Work with Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen. FUCKIN' HYSTERICAL!


Wait through the 3:09 point and you will hear the world-famous pipes chatting facelessly each week on American Idol... assuming you watch that shit. But I digress: Has recently been heard narrating the campaigns for "Nacho Libre," "Monster House," "The Ant Bully" and "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.", as well as many of the FOX promos (Simpsons, Prison Break... oh, you've heard him.)


Stick around through the mush-mouth opening until about 1:46 and you'll hear one of TV's most famous speakers, specifically for ABC. Evidently he also did voice work for several cartoons including The Inhumanoids and G.I Joe. He is also, through a bit of digging and very little fact-finding, not currently alive.


Oh hey look! It's THIS thing again! Yeah, well, do you have any idea how tough it is to find compilations like this with both faces and voices? DO YA?! Sorry. :30 seconds in and you get this guy: easily one of the most recognizable voices in movie trailer history. He's most famous for being the voice of G.I. Joe's Flint. He also was the narrator in some episodes of Ben 10. He reprised the role of Flint in episodes of Family Guy and Robot Chicken.


Finally, something filling and juicy about one of these guys! This from Wikipedia:
"In 1997 the CBS Television Network looked to Joe to assist in changing its image to attract a younger audience. Since CBS' "worst to first" ratings success, Joe has become synonymous with CBS' brightest comedies (some of which are no longer running, except in reruns), such as Everybody Loves Raymond, The King of Queens, Yes Dear and Two and a Half Men. The most recent ratings sweeps crowned CBS as the most watched U.S. television network.

In 2005, NBC made an exhaustive search for a "new sound" to represent their Award Winning Dramas such as The West Wing, ER, Medium and others. They found it with Cipriano, who re-invented his sound and created a mysterious, youthful and impactful presence. He is also the announcer for NBC's popular game shows, Deal or No Deal hosted by Howie Mandel and 1 vs. 100 hosted by Bob Saget. Cipriano is also the voice for the cable outlet Food Network."


The voice of the American Broadcasting Corporation, Ernie passed in 1997, but for those of us who watched a ton of TV growing up, we all remember one of the greatest to ever give his voice to the airwaves. "Eyewitness News...starts...NOW!" Anderson's signature was putting emphasis on a particular word. One example was his enunciation of "Love" in "The Love Boat." Anderson was also the announcer of America's Funniest Home Videos from 1989 to 1995 and did the voice over for the previews of new episodes during the first three seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation.


This old Sesame Street clip is just bizarre, but it certainly shows the speaking prowess of one James Earl Jones, easily better known as Darth Vader. But even before, during, and after his stint as Dark Lord of the Sith, Jones lent his booming speech skills to CNN, the Summer Olympics, and countless film spots and Broadway plays.


If you don't know Sam from his many commercial spots, perhaps you know him better in his countless movie rolls including my personal favorite as Virgil Earp in the killer Western, Tombstone. Elliott's voice can be heard as the voice-over narration for commercials from time to time. In the past, he has lent his voice to campaigns for Chevy, IBM, Union Pacific, and, most notably, took over as the voice of the American Beef Council after Robert Mitchum died. In 2007, Toyota hired Elliott to perform voice-overs for the new Toyota Tundra truck commercials, playing on the rich and gravelly delivery of his voice. Since late 2007, Elliot has been heard doing voice-overs for Coors Beer, bringing his deep, rich voice and "western" appeal to the beer brewed in Colorado.


This skit is too funny that it's almost surreal! Al, by the way, is at 2:37, in case you feel like skipping through, but I implore you not to. Chalk has voiced thousands of movie trailers, TV promos, commercials, and other audio presentations. He has also appeared on-camera in Hollywood films and television programs.


"One man..." Tate pretty much made that line as famous as anything else you've ever repeatedly heard in movie trailers. Tate is also well known for his voice over work in theatrical trailers for such films as Jurassic Park and Mission: Impossible, as well as work in commercials, including Guinness beer spots airing beginning in fall 2006.


This bit is from a movie that Jerry Seinfeld did a few years back (no, not that Bee Movie thing) called The Comedian that kind of came and went, but that's beside the point. Hal is just hilarious here basically mocking himself. Because many of his trailers have begun with the words "In a world", there is controversy over whether his voice has immortalized them (Don LaFontaine claimed to have actually created the catchphrase... more on him in a minute). In addition, Douglas has been the promotional voice for the former WB, A&E and The History Channel. As of 2007, Douglas records promotional narrations for ABC along with theatrical trailers.


Head on up to 2:45 and you will hear one of the most unmistakable voices of all time. Elliott has been voicing over for Disney for as long as I can remember and every time something new from the Mouse House makes its way to theaters or DVD, you'll hear this guy's uplifting speech urging you to join in on the magic. One of his most well-known voice-overs for Disney is the trademark, "And Now, Our Feature Presentation." In the original 1996 Toy Story VHS, a different voice-over says instead, "Thanks for joining us for this special preview. And Now, Our Feature Presentation."


Yes, you have to watch this again! Right at the :55 second mark, LaFontaine introduces another of TV's greatest voice-over actors: John Leader. John Leader signed with SBV in 1984 and almost immediately joined the then-very-small-circle of movie trailer VO artists. He has voiced the trailers and campaigns for hundreds of major movies from "Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom," to all three "Back To The Future" films. From classic Merchant/Ivory award winners to some of the most popular romantic comedies of all time, like "While You Were Sleeping," "When Harry Met Sally," and "Sleepless In Seattle." John was one of the first promo voices to launch the new Fox Television Network in 1988. In 1989 he became one of the primary voices on CBS, a relationship he still enjoys today as the on-going voice of "Survivor," "The Amazing Race," and many of the network's prime time dramas.


On September 1st, we lost history's greatest voice-over actor. Lending his gruff, stern, rich pipes to over 5,000 trailers and hundreds of TV and radio spots and promos, Don LaFontaine was most well known for opening his dialog with: "In a world...", a phrase often attributed to his creation. Weather he did or not is meaningless, the point is he made it his own. He'll be missed.


  1. Hey, great blog entry!

    Just for the record, though, it appears possible that Fred Collins is indeed still alive. At least he was as of July 2008:

    My main exposure to his voice was through his old radio work on "X-Minus One." The show was a revival of the old "Dimension X," which had featured Norman Rose as the narrator and Collins occasionall yas the credits/closing announcer. On "X-Minus One," though, while Rose narrated a few episodes (especially Bradbury stories), Collins was the main voice, from the opening signature ("These are stories of the future....") to lighter tones promoting NBC's Monitor, then back down to dramatically announce the episode title and take listeners from celebrity fluff to deep space, and delivering saving bonds pitches and other PSAs, and modulating again for the rapid fire closing credits (while keeping the names all distinct and clear). His tone altered quite a bit in the intervening decades (well, so did Don Pardo's, who also cut his teeth on the show), but it just grew richer and the fundamentals, especially in terms of delivery, are there (still, it was a surprising contrast just now, listening to the more recent samples and the radio shows).

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