There are certainly things that you take for granted in your pop culture world. One of which is that you could never imagine NBC’s Saturday Night Live without the booming voice of Mr. Don Pardo. However, we now live in that world as legendary television and radio icon, Don Pardo passed away yesterday at the age of 96.
Don Pardo was the voice for Saturday Night Live since its inception in 1975. In that time, 137 regular players on SNL have had the pleasure of hearing their name announced by the legendary voice. Who hasn’t sat at their TV watching SNL and tried to announce the names just like Pardo? If you say you haven’t, you’re lying. Pardo did not announce during the 1981-82 season, meaning single season performers during that year are the only cast members to have their names announced by someone else. He tallied 38 years as the voice of Saturday Night Live. 38 Years!
After nearly sixty years with NBC, Pardo retired from the network, but still took on the SNL introduction duty. Two years later, Pardo took to recording his announcements from his home in Arizona and sending them in, instead of having to fly to New York every Saturday Night for the show. Don Pardo appeared on SNL for his 90th birthday, in a show hosted by Tina Fey. As he proceeded to blow out 90 candles, as you could just tell he had so much life and energy for his age.
Pardo was an NBC “lifer” starting with the company in the early 1940s, being an in-house announcer for NBC Radio. It’s as though Pardo had the smooth golden tones to his voice since he was in his mid-20s, and they never changed. Take a listen to him doing the intro for a radio program called, “Barrie Craig, Confidential Investigator.” You would have thought Pardo recorded this last week.
If you’re of my generation, outside of Saturday Night Live, you should remember Don Pardo from his work in “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “I Lost on Jeopardy” music video, where he reprised his role as the announcer of the famous game show.
Game shows just happened to be where Pardo made his mark in television during the late 50s, early 60s, starting as the voice of the original Price is Right. He later went on to be the announcer for Jeopardy! from 1964 to 1975. From there he took on the announcing duty for other game shows including Jackpot!, as well as working the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade through 1999.
Pardo was a true television and radio icon and it is going to be nearly impossible to replace such a recognizable and historic voice for television. Having watched a lot of old game shows on Game Show Network, I’m used to hearing the famous phrase, “Tell them what they’ve won, Don Pardo!” Well I can say without a doubt, everyone won the chance to be graced with hearing the perfect voice of Mr. Pardo. We sure lost a good one yesterday.