Legendary TV announcer, the man with the most iconic voice ever heard on TV, has died in his sleep in his Arizona home, aged 96.
Don Pardo has been an NBC announcer since 1944, worked on numerous radio programs and during Word War II as a reporter for NBC Radio. In the 50s Pardo was the voice of many successful game shows like The Price Is Right, Jeopardy!, Three on a Match, Winning Streak, and Jackpot! On November 22, 1963 he was the first to announce to NBC viewers that President John F. Kennedy had been shot.
Above all, Don Pardo’s voice is most closely linked with announcing Saturday Night Live. He had been announcing the cast members and rarely participating in skits since the shows premiere on October 11th, 1975, except for one season (1981-82, a turbulent year for SNL, when Lorne Michaels had just left the show). He retired in 2004, but all these years until now continued to provide introductions for SNL, prerecorded in a studio at his Arizona home. After all he was one of the two people in history to ever have lifetime contracts with NBC. The other was Bob Hope.
Recently, in the 2013 season, Pardo missed a couple of SNL episodes due to a broken hip and though his replacements (including the great impressionist and SNL alumni Darrell Hammond) did their best to imitate his voice, fans noticed his absence.
SNL went through a large number of cast changes during its last season, with long-time cast members (Meyers, Hader, Armisen, Sudeikis) departing, giving their place to new featured players, three of which are now fired from the show, in addition to Nasim Pedrad departing. According to Lorne Michaels’ statement that the show “is still in the middle of a rebuilding” period, now this is a loss they won’t be able to replace easily. A three-hour primetime special to celebrate the show’s 40 seasons will be aired February 15th, 2015.
In 1984 Don Pardo appeared on ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic’s song I Lost On Jeopardy, a parody of Greg Kihn Band’s Jeopardy. On February 23rd, 2008 he appeared at the closing of SNL to blow out the candles of his 90th birthday cake. In 2009 he appeared in 30 Rock, in the episode Cutbacks.
Here’s Joe Piscopo from SNL Season 6, practicing on his Don Pardo impression, hoping to take his job, first aired December 12th 1980.