Don LaFontaine was born on August 26, 1940 in Duluth, Minnesota. After graduating from school, he got a job as a recording engineer at National Recording Studios. There, he was able to work with a famous voice actor, Floyd Peterson. Peterson was very receptive to LaFontaine's ideas and was willing to use a lot of them in the TV spots that he did for Dr. Strangelove.
Floyd Peterson and Don LaFontaine eventually decided to start a business together. Their business focused on doing TV spots for movie trailers and commercials. LaFontaine had his first opportunity to do voice acting himself when he was forced to fill in for an absentee. The resulting TV spots for the 1964 film "Gunfighters of Casa Grande" showcased his abilities and led to more voice acting work.
By the late 1960s, LaFontaine had greatly refined his technique and his deep voice was showcased in trailers for many movies. Since then, he has done the voice overs for over 5,000 movie trailers, commercials, and video game trailers. Currently, he still works very hard and produces about 60 voice overs every week. His income reportedly ranges between six and seven figures a year.
Despite being featured in so many movie trailers and commercials, LaFontaine claims that he is not really recognized in public. Yet, at the same time, his voice is unmistakable when it is heard in context on a movie trailer or commercial. Fellow voice actor Ashton Smith has said, "When you die, the voice you hear in heaven is not Don's. It is God trying to sound like Don."
When asked about the movie trailer business, LaFontaine says that the industry is largely male-dominated. Few, if any, movie trailers are voiced by females since the industry likes the proven formula of male voice overs. Studies have also suggested that women prefer male voice-overs instead of female voice-overs.
During his career, LaFontaine coined many popular phrases, such as "In a world where..." and "a game of cat and mouse". He enjoys writing as well as voice acting and personally writes the text for most of his voice overs. He is able to do most of the work from home, often recording up to 35 voice overs every day. He also says that he prefers to work by doing the voice overs without seeing the pictures or film.
LaFontaine was admitted to a hospital on August 22, 2008, reportedly suffering from a blood clot in his lungs. His condition worsened over the next several days until he died on September 1, 2008.