This summer—and every summer after—audiences everywhere will live in a world without Hal Douglas. The 89-year-old Douglas, who died Friday at his home in Lovetsville, Virginia, may not have been a household name, but his gravely baritone was one of Hollywood’s most familiar voices. Douglas provided the voice of the trailers for Lethal Weapon, Men in Black, Forrest Gump, Con Air, Meet the Parents, and thousands of other films. In addition to his trailer work, he was the voice of promos for ABC, ABC Family, A&E, History, CBS News, NBC Sports, and The WB.
Douglas was one of the industry’s top voiceover talents for trailers, along with his colleagues Don Morrow and the late Don Lafontaine (with whom Douglas shares credit for popularizing “in a world…”). He took a relaxed view of his work. He refused to move to Los Angeles, and he said that he rarely remembered trailers after he had recorded them. In 2009, he told the New York Times: “I’m not outstanding in any way. It’s a craft that you learn, like making a good pair of shoes. And I just consider myself a good shoemaker.” His good nature is reflected in the trailer for Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedian, for which Douglas parodied himself in a rare on-camera appearance.
Douglas was born Harold Cone on September 1, 1924 in Stamford, Connecticut. He trained as a pilot during WWII and spent three years in the Navy. After the war, he enrolled in the acting program at the University of Miami; he then moved to New York, where he changed his last name to Douglas and supplemented his acting income with voiceover work. The rest, as Douglas might say in a trailer, is history. [via The Hollywood Reporter]