Peter Thomas (announcer)

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Peter Thomas
Peter Thomas Voiceover Artist.jpg
Thomas in November 2010
Born(1924-06-28)June 28, 1924
DiedApril 30, 2016(2016-04-30) (aged 91)
Occupation Narrator
Years active1938–2015
Known forDocumentary and advertisement voice-over work
Stella Barrineau
(m. 1946;died 2014)
Parent(s)John Thomas
Sibyl Addenbrooke

Peter Addenbrooke Thomas [1] (June 28, 1924 – April 30, 2016) [2] was an American announcer and narrator of television programs with a career spanning more than 70 years, including shows such as Nova [3] and Forensic Files . [4]



Thomas was born in Pensacola, Florida, [5] to British parents John D. Thomas, originally of Swansea, Wales, and Sibyl Addenbrooke, from Mumbles, Wales, daughter of Col. Addenbrooke of the RAF. He had two younger brothers, John and David. His father, a Church of England minister in Great Britain, then Presbyterian minister in the US, and his mother, who became a schoolteacher in the US, stressed the importance of reading, education, and memorization and visualization to their son. Thomas says that his father stressed mental images as an important speaking tool. For example, he told his son if he was talking about horses he had to picture horses in his mind.[ citation needed ]

Thomas began his career at 14 as an announcer on a local radio show. [6] Since the station could not pay him due to his age, they arranged for the sponsor, Piper Aircraft, to give him flying lessons. Within a few years he was hosting Big Band remotes.[ citation needed ]

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. [2]

Thomas is still best known today for the series Forensic Files, which is broadcast in streams of episodes and has an enormous cult-following. He received scores of 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 Weissmann 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. 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 [7] episode entitled "D-Day's Sunken Secrets," [8] broadcast May 28, 2014, just before the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings; in his youth, he had participated in the original D-Day landing on Omaha Beach.

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 had worked for the bulk of his narration career. Before pursuing narration full-time, he was the 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.

He has been called by many of his peers in his industry the greatest voice in the history of American broadcasting. He may be remembered most of all as the inimitable narrator of Forensic Files which continues to be broadcast to a worldwide audience and has a cult following of millions.

Personal life

Thomas married his high school sweetheart, Stella (née Barrineau) Thomas, on June 29, 1946; she died on June 16, 2014. [2] The couple raised three children (Peter Jr., Douglas McMillan, and Elizabeth) in Greenwich, Connecticut, and in 1985, they settled in Naples, Florida. [2] He was heavily involved in work with veterans, having served on the board of the National D-Day Memorial Foundation and in other similar roles. Having been involved in liberating Nordhausen, Thomas also was a strong supporter of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum; he narrated the museum's original audio tour and documentary. [2]

Thomas died on April 30, 2016, at the age of 91. He was memorialized at the end of the first episode of Forensic Files II which aired on February 23, 2020. [1] [2]

Other notable works

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  1. 1 2 "Peter Thomas Obituary - Naples, FL". Pensacola News Journal . Retrieved August 3, 2018.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Schlichter, Jay. "Famed voice-over icon Peter Thomas dies at 91". Naples Daily News . Archived from the original on December 29, 2017. Retrieved May 27, 2016.
  3. Sarah Ing. "NOVA: Case of the Flying Dinosaur (1991)". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times . Baseline & All Movie Guide. Archived from the original on July 30, 2012. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
  4. "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.
  5. 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.
  6. Moon, Troy (January 26, 2015). "Pensacola narrator honored in Collier County". Pensacola News Journal . Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  7. "NOVA: D-Day's Sunken Secrets". PBS . Retrieved May 31, 2014.
  8. Genzlinger, Neil (May 27, 2014). "70 Years After the Date, Still So Much to Recall". The New York Times . Retrieved January 10, 2016.
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