Don Pardo, the man who sonorously introduced almost every episode of Saturday Night Live, died yesterday in Tucson, Arizona after a long and storied television career. His work on SNL was so well-known that long after retirement he would fly in every week to announce that week’s cast, host and musical guest; in the last few years, he did the work remotely from Tucson.
Pardo began as an in-house announcer for NBC radio in 1944, also serving as a war reporter, before moving on to game shows like The Price is Right (before it moved to ABC) and Jeopardy. His resonant tones graced countless other game shows, soap operas and news events, like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; he also announced the news of John F. Kennedy’s assassination to NBC viewers in 1963. He worked on SNL from episode one and missed only the seventh season.
Pardo worked full-time at NBC for 60 years, retiring in 2004 but continuing on SNL, which strove to keep him in-studio for as long as possible before his health could not permit weekly flights from Arizona to New York. He missed two shows in 2013 due to a broken hip; former SNL cast member Darrell Hammond announced the show instead in Pardo-like fashion, but the facsimile was easily noted. Many SNL cast members, past and present, made tribute to Pardo on Twitter last night as the news of his death leaked out:
Goodbye Don Pardo. You worked from World War II until this May. You were cool as hell. I'm very lucky I got to talk to you those few times.— John Mulaney (@mulaney) August 19, 2014
On Sept 13th 2008 I heard Don Pardo say my name for the first time. I cried until the 16th. Thanks Don. I owe you a coffee.— Bobby Moynihan (@bibbymoynihan) August 19, 2014
Everyone who has ever worked at SNL does two (bad) impressions: Lorne Michaels and Don Pardo.— Ken Tremendous (@KenTremendous) August 19, 2014