Courtesy USA Today
You may not have known him to look at him, but you most certainly would have recognized his voice. Don Pardo, the velvet-toned television announcer famous for having introduced the lineups on Saturday Night Live since its premiere, died Monday at the age of 96, according to multiple media reports.
Pardo died peacefully at his home in Tucson, Arizona, where he moved after retiring from SNL in 2006, said his daughter, Dona Pardo. Creator and executive producer Lorne Michaels asked him to continue with the show, and for many weeks he recorded his introductions from his Tucson home, she said.
Those introductions and his voice were so distinctive that longtime fans of the late-night sketch comedy series immediately noticed when he missed the opening of the March 2, 2013 episode; it was later reported that he had suffered a broken hip.
Pardo, who began his career at NBC Radio in 1940 and switched to television in the 1950s, worked as an announcer on numerous game shows including The Price is Right and the original Jeopardy! in the mid-1960s.
He was Jeopardy!'s announcer from 1964 until the original version, with host Art Fleming, ended in 1975. A decade later, in 1975, he turned to late night work, becoming the voice over announcer for the hit comedy series Saturday Night Live.
The program's sole announcer except for one season (1981–1982), Pardo's famous SNL voice-over boomed over microphones after one of the participants in the show's opening sketch cried out, "Live, from New York ..." Pardo then announced the show's title, names of cast members and musical guests.
But his SNL work was not just limited to announcing. In a December 1976 SNL episode he performed with musician Frank Zappa reciting a verse from the song I'm the Slime. Later, he was part of the live-recorded version of the song on 1993 re-release of the Zappa in New York album.
He also did the voiceovers for SNL's commercial and game shows spoofs as well as other skits. One sketch, spoofing Pardo, was called "Don Pardo: The First Fifty Years."
Pardo's musical repertoire also included a cameo on "Weird Al" Yankovic's 1984 song I Lost on Jeopardy which was a parody of the Greg Kihn Band's 1983 hit Jeopardy.
For most of 1986 he was the announcer on the NBC soap opera Search for Tomorrow. His other assignments at NBC included work on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (until 1999), the NBC Nightly News, and Wheel of Fortune. On Nov. 22, 1963, he made NBC's first on-air announcement that President John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas.
In 2004, after some 30 years as SNL's voice, Pardo announced his official retirement from NBC and moved from Demarest, N.J., to Tucson. But SNL's producers pleaded with him to continue announcing introductions for the show.
In 2006, he began prerecording his announcements from a home studio in Arizona; then, for a while, he made regular trips to back New York to record the introductions live. He later went back to prerecording them from his home.
On Feb. 23, 2008, his 90th birthday, he appeared on SNL to blow out the candles on his birthday cake. He appeared on an episode of NBC's sitcom 30 Rock in 2009.
He was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' Hall of Fame in 2010, the only announcer to be so honored.
In a 2006 interview for the Archive of American Television, he recalled the early days of SNL: "When we first started, in the first five years, Lorne Michaels used to write my closings, they were very clever. I loved it, because the last line was always, 'This is Don Pardo saying, "This is Don Pardo speaking." '
"I got two Don Pardos in there."
Don Pardo, longtime 'SNL' announcer, dies at 96
Courtesy USA Today
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