Page 3 Profile: Hal Douglas, voiceover king


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The Independent Online

In a world…

Sound familiar? The opening refrain of many a movie trailer was spoken by one man, Hal Douglas, who has died at the age of 89.

Ah yes, I can hear it now.

No wonder. Douglas was one of a holy trinity of voiceover artists – along with the late Don LaFontaine and Don Morrow, voice of the Titanic trailer - who have virtually monopolised the industry with their distinctive vocal vibrations.

Hard work, is it?

It sounds like a pretty cushy gig to us. Douglas often recorded in his own home and could command around $2,000 (£1,200) a trailer. Best of all, he often did it without even taking off his pyjamas.

Where do we sign?

Hold up, you have to have the voice first. Hal took a job doing voiceover work to supplement his income while acting in New York in the late 1940s. His deep, husky tones soon set him apart from the crowd. “I never thought of it as a great voice,” he said, adding that it was in fact “throaty, chesty: a voice in need of clearing”.

We can still almost hear him…

Douglas, whose daughter confirmed yesterday that he had died last Friday from pancreatic cancer, will be remembered in a unique way. In providing the voiceover for a generation of movie-goers, he growled his way into our cinematic subconscious. In 2009 he told The New York Times that, when he went to the cinema, he often found that he was on “three out of four trailers”.

“The fact is, my voice has been out there. And it hangs out there.” Gone but not forgotten seems most fitting.