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Hal Douglas, Voice Behind Countless Movie Trailers, Passes Away at 89

Hal Douglas, a voice artist who helped usher in a new generation of movie trailers, died last week. His daughter Sarah told the New York Times that the cause was complications from pancreatic cancer. Douglas was 89.

The phrase, “In A World…” was often associated with another voiceover icon, Don LaFontaine, who passed away in 2008. But this particular style of reading copy could also be attributed to Douglas. Over a career that spanned almost four decades, the actor voiced thousands of movie trailers, television promos, and commercials. His trademark deep tone could range from dramatic to comedic, earning him placements on everything from trailers for “Lethal Weapon” and “Philadelphia” to commercials for pharmaceutical products.

“I even did the (commercials for) condoms way back when just the mention of the word ‘Trojans’ was horrifying,” Douglas told Casimir Nozkowski in a digital short entitled, “A Great Voice.” “I was also doing Chevrolet I think at the time, and they requested that I get myself off the condom (spots).”

The title of the 2013 piece on Douglas’ work is ironic because he says at the beginning that he does not think of his voice as great.

“Very throat-y, chest-y,” are adjectives that Douglas uses to describe the voice he uses. “The sound that I often use is difficult for engineers because it blends in with the band.”

Born Harold Cone in Stamford, Conn., Douglas was an actor and producer before moving in to voice-over work. While many voice-over artists work out of California or Florida, he preferred his Virginia Beach home and studios in New York City. Douglas became so known for his work that he remained steadily in demand until his retirement, just two years ago. His sound even landed him on camera; he played a voice-over artist in the trailer for “Comedian,” a 2002 documentary by Jerry Seinfeld.

In addition to his daughter, Douglas is survived by his wife Ruth and two children from a previous marriage, Jeremy and Jon.

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