Everybody’s Favorite Voiceover Artist
Viewers know Peter Thomas as the narrator of Forensic Files. But his career started long before anyone had heard of high-velocity blood splatter or age-processed clay busts. Some trivia from a long (1924 to 2016) and productive life:
1. Peter Thomas voiced the 1970 commercial that declared “Tang was chosen to go to the moon with the Apollo astronauts.”
2. He considered himself lucky that his voice didn’t change as he aged. He recorded a Gettysberg audio tour in 1974 and was able to add verbiage 30 years later. His voice matched.
3. As a favor to Johnny Carson, Peter Thomas officiated at the wedding of the talk-show titan’s son Cory Carson to a Naples, Florida, native, Angelica D. Carson. Johnny (below) and Peter met when they worked for the The Morning Show on CBS in the 1950s.
4. Peter Thomas postponed his own vacation to help an audio technician save his job. The sound man had messed up a Tropicana commercial recording, so Thomas did it over and never told the guy’s superiors.
5. Of all the Nova episodes he narrated for PBS, “Iceman Murder Mystery” was his favorite.
6. Although Peter Thomas spoke perfectly unaccented North American English, he had foreign-born parents — a father from Wales, a mother from England.
7. He considered the greatest innovations in voice technology to be audio tape (which could be sliced up, so one mistake didn’t mean recording from the beginning again), DAT (digital audio tape), and teleprompters affixed to the camera (instead of off to the side).
8. Don “In a World” Lafontaine (left) and Peter Thomas are considered the two best male narrators of their generation. Apparently, they weren’t rivals and liked each other’s work.
9. He won the audition for an American Express card commercial because he could say the “American Express: Don’t leave home without it” spiel in under five seconds.
10. You needn’t bother searching for Peter Thomas in the bankruptcy court records of the once-rich and famous. He lived below his means, invested wisely, and left a well-endowed estate. One Florida property he bought for $1 million was worth $25 million toward the end of his life. — RR
Thanks to Paul Dowling, Randy Thomas, Don Blair’s Pioneers of Broadcasting, and Dave Courvoisier of the World-Voices Organization.