We have lost one of the true giants of our industry, and a true friend of Fantastic Plastic. The man many people consider "America's Narrator," Peter Thomas, passed away on April 30th, 2016. He was 91.
Few outside our industry knew his name, but everyone knew his voice. Through the years millions of people were admonished to "Don't leave home without it," and warned of "The taste you hate, twice a day" as he narrated literally tens of thousands of television commercials, films, PBS specials, and the list goes on.
Peter was known everywhere for his amazing sound, the voice of so many different companies and organizations: American Airlines, Mobile Oil, Estee Lauder, NOVA, just to name a few. But he was many other things as well — a devoted husband, father, mentor to many, philanthropist, WWII hero (even landing on the beach in Normandy), and all-around great guy.
His career spanned seven decades, and he worked daily almost to the very end. Even as a very elderly man he, amazingly, kept a middle-aged voice. Clean living, we suppose.
Our creative director Todd Terry remembers ——
I was privileged to know Peter for, oh, pushing 20 years, and considered him a friend since the first moment we worked together.
Peter was the one of the kindest and most giving men I have ever known. There are countless voiceover guys across the country who consider him not just an inspiration, but a mentor... as he would go out of his way to help others.
We used him for many many commercial spots. I would sometimes get fairly incredulous calls or emails from other producers who would marvel "How did you get Peter Thomas???"...especially for a local single-market spot. Well, that was simply because he was generous enough to do them, there was no job that was beneath him and no job that he gave less than 100% of his time and talent.
The first time I ever used Peter, it was just a quick tag for a spot for a credit union. Hiring someone of Peter's caliber was a stretch, but we thought he was worth it. After chatting with him on the phone we discovered that his late father-in-law and my mother worked together decades ago in the same office. Instantly, we were good friends.
Another time for a commercial, he recorded about a dozen or more takes in his home studio for me. They were all golden of course. But an hour later I got a call from him from a "real" studio in Naples where he lived, he had gone in to do some Burger King spots and decided to bang out another dozen takes for me, he wasn't happy with his first effort. Later that afternoon I got yet another call from him, he was at a different studio recording "Forensic Files," and had decided to do a few more. I did not have the heart to tell him that we had already edited with one of his very first takes... they were all perfect.
Here's the spot from that session — don't watch, just listen...
I can't imagine hearing anyone else say those words.
I looked up to Peter more than anyone in our industry. Honestly, no one else even comes close. He was an incredible talent and an even better person.
We are all very honored to have worked with Peter. Even more honored to just have simply known him. A life very well lived.