Voiceover actor Lary Lewman is being remembered in the consulting world as the dean of political narrators.
“He was the first narrator I ever worked with,” Mark Putnam, a Democratic media strategist, tells C&E. “He not only had a wonderful voice, he was also a voice of calm in what could be very stressful situations if you were crashing on a deadline.”
The 76-year-old Lewman died July 11 at his Clarksville, Md. home, according to the Washington Post. He suffered from Parkinson’s disease, which had robbed him of his powerful voice.
Before he was the go-to narrator for Democratic campaign ads, Lewman was a stage and television performer who was known to audiences in Baltimore for his portrayal of Pete the Pirate. But he eventually gravitated toward voiceover work and narrating campaign ads, starting with spots for Jimmy Carter in 1980. During Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign for president, Lewman narrated all his campaign spots, including contrast ads that hit incumbent George H. W. Bush for his “no new taxes” pledge.
“Now George Bush wants to give a $108,000 tax break to millionaires,” Lewman says in the spot. “Guess who’s going to pay? We can’t afford four more years.”
He was so sought after, Lewman could command $20,000 a spot and earned as much as $500,000 a year. Candidates hired him because Lewman’s voice was so effective, according to Glover Park Group’s Carter Eskew, he could read the phone book and make it sound “credible.”
“[A]nd that became a very precious commodity in political advertising,” Eskew wrote in the Post.
Lewman liked to describe his voice as “Joe Sixpack.”
‘‘Traditionally, Republicans tend to like the voice of God,’’ Lewman once told the Post in an interview. ‘‘Democrats tend to like the voice next door. Republicans like the basses — they tend to go more powerful. Democrats like the medium-voice baritone. So I’m the guy next door, Joe Sixpack.’’