If you are under 50, then chances are you knew Don Pardo, or at least his rich baritone. For 38 seasons (all but 1) Pardo was the announcer for Saturday Night Live; each week he could be heard belting out his trademark line “It’s Saturday Night Live”. Whether intentional on the part of NBC and producer Lorne Michaels, hiring the seemingly straight laced traditional announcer provided an interesting foil and an air of sensibility to the sketch comedy show. Pardo did more, though, than lend an air of legitimacy to the program. He even appeared in a few sketches and monologues as a parody of himself.
Pardo began his announcer career 70 years ago at NBC. There he handled announcer duties for memorable programs like Jeopardy (pre-Trebek) and The Price is Right (pre-Bob Barker). Pardo was the first voice at NBC to announce an assassination attempt on John F. Kennedy.
Pardo said over the years that he paid careful attention to his voice. He semi-joked to the Associated Press in 1985 that besides being his meal ticket, it was also “my Achilles heel. When I get sick, it’s always my voice.”
He said he carried cough drops everywhere.
He appeared in Woody Allen’s movie “Radio Days,” playing a game show host, and can be heard on recordings by the late Frank Zappa and Weird Al Yankovic, in his “I Lost On Jeopardy” parody. Despite relocating to Arizona in the early 2006, Pardo continued his SNL duties long distance.
Pardo was a familiar voice to generations of radio and TV fans; though, many have never seen his face. Upon the announcement of his death, tributes and remembrances poured in from all over the television industry.
“Any SNL actor will tell u:the ultimate moment of your career was hearing Don Pardo say your name. Each week he represented a dream come true,” tweeted Rachel Dratch, who appeared on the show from 1999 to 2006.
Seth Myers, who spent years on “SNL” before recently beginning his own late-night talk program, wrote, “RIP Don Pardo. A voice that meant so much.”
Don Pardo died August 18, 2014. He was 96.