Peter Thomas (announcer)
|Born||Peter Addenbrooke Thomas|
June 28, 1924
Pensacola, Florida, U.S.
|Died||April 30, 2016 (aged 91)|
Naples, Florida, U.S.
|Known for||Documentary and advertisement voice-over work|
(m. 1946; her death 2014)
Thomas was born in Pensacola, Florida, to John D. Thomas and Sibyl Addenbrooke, who were both originally from the United Kingdom. He had two younger brothers, John and David. His father, a Presbyterian minister, was from Wales, and his mother, a schoolteacher, was from Salisbury, England, stressed the importance of reading, education, and memorization to their son. Thomas says that his father always stressed mental images as an important speaking tool. For example, he told his son if he were talking about horses he had to picture horses in his mind.
Thomas began his career at 14 as an announcer on a local radio show. Since the station could not pay him, due to his age, they arranged for the sponsor, Piper Aircraft, to give him flying lessons in a Piper Cub. Within just a few years, Thomas would be hosting Big Band remotes.
With the onset of World War II, Thomas left The Stony Brook School and volunteered for the United States Army in 1943, after being offered an Armed Forces Radio deferment, and served with the First Infantry Division in five major campaigns, including the Battle of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. He was issued a Battle star for each of the five campaigns. He was also awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Unit French Croix de guerre, and Belgian Fourragère.
Thomas received many awards for his work but cited, as one of his best, the Oscar won by a documentary he narrated, One Survivor Remembers. The film, produced by HBO, chronicles the personal experience of Gerda Weissman Klein, who was interned at the Nordhausen Concentration Camp when she was a teenager; Thomas' unit participated in the liberation of Nordhausen. Klein and Thomas met during the post-production of the documentary, and again at its premiere. Thomas also participated in an HBO film on the Battle of Hürtgen Forest, in which he fought with the 1st Infantry Division (United States). Thomas was also the narrator for a miniseries that ran on The Discovery Channel in 1993 entitled How the West was Lost. Thomas was the narrator for the two-hour Nova episode entitled D-Day's Sunken Secrets, broadcast May 28, 2014, just before the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings; he participated in the original D-Day landing on Omaha Beach.
Thomas was married to Stella (Barrineau) Thomas until her 2014 death, and lived in Naples, Florida. He was involved in work with veterans, having served on the board of the National D-Day Memorial Foundation and in other similar roles.
He worked at his home and, through ISDN, at recording studios throughout the United States. Also using ISDN, he continued narrating at recording studios in New York City, where he worked for the bulk of his narration career. Before pursuing narration full-time, he was a New York anchor for CBS News. He continued to keep an apartment in midtown Manhattan for recordings that required his presence there. Thomas also recorded in many European capitals.
Other notable work
- Thomas performed voice-overs for hundreds of television commercials, including Coca-Cola, IBM, Valvoline, NBC, United Technologies, Burger King, William Beaumont Hospital and ESPN Monday Night Football commercials.
- Thomas was heard in Paul Hardcastle's 1985 hit song "19," which Hardcastle composed after being inspired by a 1984 ABC documentary on the Vietnam War, titled Vietnam Requiem, which Thomas narrated. The song topped the charts in Hardcastle's native United Kingdom – also Thomas' parental homeland – and thirteen other countries. Thomas was paid royalties for the use of his voice in the song.
- Thomas provided the digitized voice for Philips' HeartStart series of automated external defibrillator (AED) units used by emergency services nationwide. Thomas' voice prompts and instructs emergency personnel on when to perform such tasks as starting and stopping CPR, when to press the button to deliver a shock and when the AED is analyzing the patient.
- Thomas was in high demand for political advertisements, and has done several films for the US Dept. of Veterans Affairs.
- Thomas narrated the CD version of Tuck Everlasting, a novel by Natalie Babbitt.
- Thomas narrated the Readers Digest video series The Crucial Turning Points of World War 2
- Thomas narrated the orientation video for the National World War I Museum at The Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri.
- Thomas narrated the TruTV true-crime documentary series Forensic Files, also known as Medical Detectives.
- As of March 2013, Thomas could be heard voicing a national television spot for "Cool Whip."
- Thomas was the announcer of the underwriting credits on the Nature TV series on PBS from the early 1980s through 2015. He also was the announcer of the underwriting credits for the NOVA TV series on PBS from 1988 through 1996.
- "Peter Thomas Obituary - Naples, FL | the Pensacola News Journal". Legacy.com. Retrieved August 3, 2018.
- "Famed voice-over icon Peter Thomas dies at 91". Naples Daily News. Archived from the original on December 29, 2017. Retrieved May 27, 2016.
- "NOVA: Case of the Flying Dinosaur (1991)". New York Times. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
- "Local 'Forensic Files' A TV crew for the show interviewed a prosecutor and expert witnesses from the trial of Brian David Hummert". York Daily Record. December 5, 2006. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
- Miguel-Navarro, Tracy X. (September 8, 2007). "Now hear this: Voice-over artist Peter Thomas adding to his list of honors". Naples Daily News. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
- Moon, Troy (January 26, 2015). "Pensacola narrator honored in Collier County". Pensacola News Journal. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
- "NOVA: D-Day's Sunken Secrets". Retrieved May 31, 2014.
- Genzlinger, Neil (May 27, 2014). "70 Years After the Date, Still So Much to Recall". The New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
- "How we made the pop song 19 by Paul Hardcastle and Ken Grunbaum". The Guardian. Retrieved April 29, 2015.
- "In Memory of Peter Thomas (1924-2016) - Blog - Nature - PBS". PBS.