Don LaFontaine, the king of the movie trailers, recently sent a message out to his friends with some updates concerning his health. I was chatting with Don moments ago (it’s past midnight here on the east coast) and since writing this email, he has been steadily improving and hopes to be back to work by the end of the week or the beginning of the next. In order to provide you with the true story and an accurate account of what happened before the news gets into the hands of the media, Don and I agreed to share his letter with you here on VOX Daily first.
Don LaFontaine News

Message from Don:

In the interest of full disclosure, I thought I’d let you know why I have been “off the grid” for a while. To my colleagues in the business, and the public at large, it could serve as a cautionary tale, and save them from some discomfort in the future. Last Wednesday, November 18th, I went to Cedars Sinai Hospital for a minor surgery, an outpatient procedure, which meant that I was to be discharged from the hospital after a couple of hours in recovery.

It didn’t quite work out that way.
When I was wheeled down to the recovery area, my wife immediately noticed that my face was swollen. Very quickly thereafter, I blew up like the Stay Puft marshmallow man.
What had happened was this– (and here the causes differ, depending on if you’re talking to my surgeon or to me)–

My version: During the procedure, my left lung was nicked.
My surgeon’s version; After the procedure, while in recovery, I must have coughed, and coughed hard enough to blow a small hole in my lung. Whichever is true, the end result was the same–Pneumothorax, the presence of air or gas in the pleural cavity, the result of a collapsed lung. The natural by-product of Pneumothorax is a nasty little condition known as Subcutaneous Emphysema, which describes the result of the air from the collapsed lung, having nowhere to go but under the skin, blowing the victim up like a balloon.

My face and chest grew to alarming proportions. My eyes were swollen shut. I felt like I was strangling (I wasn’t. I was being fed oxygen, and my air to blood ratio was very high.)
For about an hour, I was the center of attention, as a chest tube was inserted through my upper ribs to release some of the pressure. In addition, about a half dozen small catheters were stuck under my skin to help drain off the air. Any thought of my going home that day was quickly abandoned. After I stabilized, I was taken to a room in the hospital ward.

At Cedars, as it is at most hospitals, patients on the ward are attended to by one nurse and one assistant, both of whom are also assigned to five or more other patients. The end result of this is service is usually slow. Getting a pain pill or something to help you sleep can take up to an hour. Because of this, my family doctor suggested that we hire a private “sitter” to stay with me–just in case.

As it turns out, it was a good call, because about 7 PM that night, I re-expanded–this time worse than before. Because of the anesthesia, my mouth was dry, and now it went positively Saharan. It felt like my throat was filled with sharp little rocks, and nothing would relieve it. It took about three hours to re- stabilize me, and I wound up back in post-op ICU.

That’s were I spent Thursday, the 29th, and Friday, the 30th. I was scheduled to be released the following morning, Saturday. I was packed, dressed and literally two minutes from stepping out of my room when I felt myself blowing up again. This third Pneumothorax doomed me to an extension of my stay at Cedars. I was moved from the ICU back to the ward, where I spent the next three days.

During the night of the 30th, my chest tube came out, but it didn’t seem to alarm any of my team of four doctors and one nurse/practitioner who visited me each morning. I told them that I thought there was something left over from the chest tube, but I was assured that it wasn’t the case–even though nobody had bothered to look under the dressing to make sure.
The miscommunications multiplied.

A nurse told me that I was scheduled for an additional surgical procedure for the morning of Monday, the 3rd, and had written orders that would have withheld any food after midnight on Sunday. Fortunately, my beautiful wife, who holds a nursing degree, was checking up on everything every step of the way, and she kept everybody on the same page as much as possible.

I was finally allowed to go home on Tuesday, the 4th. As a result of the Subcutaneous Emphysema, pockets of air still remain around my vocal cords, and I sound pretty much like a demented Munchkin. I am told that this condition can take weeks to clear up, so I won’t be doing any recording for the immediate future.

I will, however, make a complete recovery, and that’s the good news. Last night Nita changed the dressing over my chest tube incision, and sure enough, there was a little blue box attached to my skin. This required an additional trip to the surgeon’s office today to have it removed.

All of this is not to garner sympathy for poor little me, but to illustrate the potential problems that can be encountered in situations like this. I don’t know if anything could have been done to prevent the Pneumothorax, but a good deal of the other problems could have been avoided with proper communication– between doctor and patient, doctor and nursing staff and nursing staff and patient. If anything speaks for the practice of getting a second opinion and making sure you discuss everything with your doctor, this does.

Also, I wanted to get this complete and accurate account of what has transpired on the record before the rumor mill has me gasping my life away in an iron lung somewhere. Aside from being limited for the near future to singing “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”, I am planning on being a general annoyance until 2030 or so, when I will retire to the poolside of the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Vegas.

I am assuming that many of you will feel the need to respond to this letter, but resist the temptation if you can. My mailbox is already backed up horribly after a week of inattention.
In other news, my appearance on FrankTV can be found on youtube, and my interview with Dave Navarro on ManiaTV can be found at:
Don LaFontaine How Did You Get Into this Episode
Don LaFontaine Leave a Voicemail Episode

Also, Nita’s “LifeStories” CD is selling through her website, at a special holiday price. Makes a great gift.
Finally–from my family to yours, we wish you the happiest of Holiday Seasons. God bless, and have a wonderful New Year.

If you would like to wish Don well please leave him a comment here on VOX Daily

Best wishes,

Technorati Tags: Don LaFontaine, Health, Voice Overs, Voice Actor, Hospital, Cedars Sinai, Nita Whitaker, News, Truth, and

Image © Don LaFontaine


  1. Don,
    Sincerest wishes for a speedy recovery. I know you’ve told all of us aspiring trailer-voice guys to “wait ’til you die”, but I’m happy to wait a lot longer. Looking forward to hearing you again.
    David Houston

  2. Wow!!! What a crazy ride. It’s good to hear that “The Don” is doing well and will have a complete recovery. It would be a sad day in VO land if we can no longer enjoy the great voice that we all have come accustomed to as THE TRAILER VOICE. All of my best to you Don, if you’re reading, and I can’t wait to hear you on the airwaves again.
    Kind Regards,

  3. Don,
    Don’t sweat it, my friend. You’ll be back on the mic before you know it. I just want to let you know that you’ve been my vox idol for some time, and I strive to at least attain a smidgen of what you’ve attained AND WILL CONTINUE to attain for years to come! But, if you need a stand-in while you’re recouping, let me know.
    Get Well, and Happy Holidays.

  4. Get well soon! That’s a horrific story, but glad it’s coming about with a happy ending.
    Rock on! Happy holidays to you and your beloved family. Onward and upward big guy!

  5. Don,
    Thanks for the warning. I’m very glad to read that you’ll make a full recovery. Word has it that you’re a great guy in addition to being a great talent, so it’s good that you’ll be with us until at least 2030.
    ‘course, by then they’ll have imploded the current Mandalay Bay hotel and built the NEW, IMPROVED Mandalay Bay! After all, it’s Vegas, baby…
    Take care and the happiest of holidays to you and your family!

  6. Thank goodness Don’s wife was there to be his advocate!
    As a Family Caregiver for the past 13 years, I KNOW how important it is to speak up for yourself and keep the lines of communication open… and even THEN things like this can happen.
    Puts a lot into perspective, doesn’t it?
    May Don recover SOON!
    …and…OK…. will we ever hear a sample of what “The Don” sounds like as a “demented Munchkin”? 😉

  7. Wow… what a crazy ride. I’ve been through the hospital thing many times with elderly parents, and it’s true… you just have to communicate constantly with the nurses and doctors. (often to annoyance, but hey, it’s someone’s life we’re talking about), and double check everything they do. They’re busy people.
    Most importantly, I’m just glad that you’re going to recover!! Enjoy the time off!! 🙂
    All the best… Caryn

  8. Don,
    Thank you for sharing this terrifying ordeal! It’s a good reminder to us all to always ask questions and have someone nearby with our best interests at heart.
    You will be in our thoughts and prayers! May the next few weeks fly by!

  9. SO HAPPY to hear you’re healing, Don. It’s amazing that your wife holds a nursing degree and was able to look after you so well! Many good thoughts and healing energy sent your way. Oh, and don’t underestimate your current voice; I always thought the Munchkins were the best part of Oz 😉

  10. All the best to you, Don! For a speedy recovery and quality attention and communication with your medical team! Your story will serve as a reminder to all of us to stay on top of our health, and not take it for granted!

  11. Man, Myth, Legend,
    Get well pronto. We all hope to HEAR from you again soon. Take care and have the Greatest Holiday season. Take care and GOD bless.

  12. Don!
    Man, I am glad you are expected to make a full recovery, I hope it’s a speedy one.
    In the meantime, if you need any help at all with those pesky voiceover jobs piling up on your desk, feel free to send them my way. I’d be more than happy to lend a helping hand.

  13. Don,
    I can’t remember a time when I didn’t hear your voice. You are truly an inspiration to the VO community. Best of luck for a speedy recovery and have a wonderful, relaxing holiday season!

  14. IN A WORLD…WHERE DOCTORS AND NURSES GOOF COMMUNICATION… ETC… best wishes for a speedy recovery, and thanks for taking the time to personally tell us what’s up.
    Your friend Elvin

  15. Don,
    Thanks for sharing this with us. Thank goodness your Shreveport gal Nita retains her RN knowledge. May you have a quick & complete recovery.

  16. Don,
    Quite an ordeal! Hope you mend up well and soon. Have a restful holiday season. My very best to you and yours.
    Doug Parks

  17. Don,
    Hang in there, get some rest, and enjoy not working for a little while. Glad to hear all is well. You’re a role model for a lot of us, and we think a lot of you, even if we don’t know you personally. Take care, and have a wonderful Christmas!

  18. Don,
    So glad your wife was there to oversee your hospital experience and can now nurse you back to health. Best wishes for a speedy recovery and a healthy New Year!!!

  19. Don,
    I must echo the sentiments of everyone here. You are an inspiration to me, and I pray for your complete recovery. Thanks for sharing your personal experience with us. You have always been generous with your advice and encouragement.
    May God bless you an your family.
    “Don LaFontaine…He’s BACK!!!!!”

  20. Don,
    What a scary ordeal! I am so sorry you had to go through all that. Like others have said, I’m glad your wife was there to know what was going on with you wasn’t normal and to be an advocate for you in the hospital. Wow… just… wow.
    I’m sending prayers your way for a speedy recovery so you’re back and better than ever in no time. Also sending prayers to your family so they may have strength as well.

  21. Don,
    Thanks for the REAL details. VERY glad to hear you’re OK…Finally!
    Cedars Batting average is not so good these days.
    Hope to see you poolside at Mandaly… minus retirement of course ‘-)
    Prayers and Well wishes!
    DC Goode

  22. Long-live “the Don”…. I wish you the fastest way to recovery…. you’re my hero….and I pray for the best of your health….
    God bless and Happy Holidays

  23. Don,
    Certainly hope and pray you are on the mend… Boy, what a no-fun ride!! I’ll be awaiting hearing your voice again, soon.

  24. Holy cow. What an awful experience. Thank God for your wife. Best wishes for a speedy recovery so that we can hear that wonderful voice again soon.

  25. Wow, that sounds like a lot of problems that could have been avoided. I hope you feel better soon and I wish you and your family the best as well as a stress free and enjoyable holiday season.
    Good Wishes.
    Richard Bartok

  26. Hello Don,
    I’m sorry you had to go through this ordeal.
    Best wishes to you as you walk the path of recovery.
    …and have a very Merry Christmas!
    Warm Regards,
    G. Faith Klassen

  27. Many Blessings, Don. The world wouldn’t be the same without you, so I’m glad you’re still in it. On the positive side, your new munchkin sound is perfect for voicing Christmas elves! 🙂

  28. Hi Don,
    Thanks for sharing that with us… it’s scary isn’t it, and certainly something we should all think about.
    I’m delighted to hear that you’re at home and on the mend… surely a nice glass of warm mulled wine over Christmas will do you the world of good?!
    Best Wishes,
    Kate Whelan.

  29. Glad to hear everything worked out for you. That was a bad situation. Hope you recover real soon. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your family.

  30. Don,
    I have been an admirer of yours for many years. I wish you a speedy recovery. I’m sure your lovely wife will see to it. I can’t wait to hear more of your work.
    I’m praying for you, man. God’s speed and Happy Holidays.
    Michael Oldham

  31. Don,
    Been wondering where you were. Sorry to hear about your misfortune but glad to hear you are getting better. You’re in our prayers. Wishing you and your wife the best for ’08.
    Dave Cash

  32. Stephanie,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to post my story on your blog. I have read the responses and I am moved beyond description by the kind and thoughtful comments. I want to share my deepest gratitude to all who took the time to respond. I am still recovering, and hopefully will have a real handle on the problem tomorrow or early next week.

  33. Hi Don,
    I am so pleased to see you will make a full recovery and you are sooo right about communication within and with Medical staff. This is how mistakes are made. Doctors are not gods, they are people, like you and me and need help along the way. I am up and coming in VO and could not imagine what the world would be like without role models such as yourself. Stay strong!
    Kris Ohmen

  34. A prayer for Don, “God, thanks so much for Don LaFontaine, you have given him such a great gift as an encourager to others, a role model and a voice full of passion. Continue to heal his body and voice.” Amen.
    Don, sorry for your hard times and great to hear your recovery is progressing.

  35. Dear Great One,
    You’re admired throughout the industry as the man with a heart even bigger than his voice. You’re known to be exceptionally generous to fans and voiceover beginners alike. Your gracious e-mail to me a couple of years ago also revealed a spiritual side… your humble appreciation of a greater power, that you credited for the good fortune in your life.
    Don, we all thank you for taking the time to give us the straight story about what happened to you. Your cautions about medical treatment could possibly save some lives, thanks to the attention that your well-deserved fame brings to the subject. You’re truly one of the good guys, which is why we all hope that the “higher power” will watch over you again this time, and restore you to great good health very soon.
    With greatest admiration and warmest regards,
    Chuck McKibben
    Producer & Voiceover Coach, Philadelphia
    (formerly from around your old neighborhood on Long Island)

  36. Don,
    In a land..where Patients outnumber Doctors.
    Where a simple trip, becomes a harrowing journey…
    Lives a man whose awesome voice was reduced to the squeak of a Munchkin. Don La Fontaine stars in “Swollen Parts”..
    from the Director of “Graze Anatomy” and “Duodenal Ulcers”…
    All the best from Toronto Don. Get well soon – here’s to a speedy recovery. Please tell God to stop imitating your voice. He should know better!
    Adrian Bell

  37. As a guitarist who worries often about hand-injuries I can appreciate what it must be like to be hospitalized with anything that could affect your voice, your bread-and-butter. Paul Harvey got through his ordeal very well. I am certain you will, as well.
    I feel there are a good number of chapters left to write for your life’s story. This much is certain- already you have left quite a sterling legacy to your industry and the best is yet to come. One day I hope to deliver a trailer, as you have, that outshines the movie for which it has been done. You rock.

  38. Don,
    Well, was out of the loop on this story. Gosh I sure hope you are feeling better. I only met you once, briefly, and I just think you’re a real inspiration to everyone. You are loved by all. Best Wishes.
    Barry Trussell

  39. You are an inspiration to me and I hope to one day soon have the honor of working with Voice Over Artists such as you. So get well soon my friend. And may your voice magic grace us for many more years to come.
    Bernard Tanner Jr.


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