Don Pardo, Iconic Announcer And Voice Of ‘SNL’ Dead At 96

Pardo dies

Don Pardo, the man who has announced nearly every episode of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, has died in his home in Arizona. He was 96.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Don Pardo began his famed announcing career at NBC, and he was the first person to announce on air that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. As reported, Pardo was reading a station title card for a rerun of a television show called Bachelor Father when word came across the wire. Pardo stopped taking about the show and announced to viewers the heartbreaking news.

President Kennedy was shot today just as his motorcade left downtown Dallas. Mrs. Kennedy jumped up and grabbed Mr. Kennedy. She cried, ‘Oh, no.’

He later admitted that he didn’t even know how he delivered the line, as he was in shock with the rest of the soon-to-be-grieving nation. The CBS News Twitter feed tweeted about Pardo’s passing earlier this evening.

Dominick George Pardo was born in 1918 in Westfield, Massachusetts, and, as a teenager, began acting in high-school productions. His dream was to always be an actor, but his booming voice caught the ears of radio producers in Rhode Island, and the legendary announcer was born. Pardo announced game shows such as Winner Take All, Jackpot, Price is Right, and Jeopardy!. Weird Al Yankovich even mentions Pardo–and included him in the music video–for his song “I lost on Jeopardy,” a spoof of Greg Kihn’s hit, “Jeopardy.”

In 1975, junior NBC producer Lorne Michaels tabbed Pardo to announce Michael’s new show, a live skit comedy program that was to air on Saturday nights. And since that first season, Don Pardo has been the voice of Saturday Night Live for the majority of the show’s 40 years on television. In fact, according to TV Line, Pardo has been with SNL longer than Lorne Michaels himself, who left the show for five years in the 1980s.

As reported by Variety, Pardo retired from NBC in 2004, but continued to record the SNL intros from his home in Arizona. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 2010, and Pardo and Bob Hope are the only two entertainers to have “lifetime contracts” at NBC. Hopefully, Ben & Jerry will create a unique ice cream flavor as part of their SNL series, in memoriam to arguably Saturday Night Live’s most valuable performer.

Don Pardo will forever be remembered as the voice of Saturday Night Live and he will be missed. Rest in Peace, Mr. Pardo.

[Image courtesy of Whosevoice.com]