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Don Pardo 1918 - 2014
August 20, 2014  | By Bill Brioux  | 2 comments

Born February 22, 1918, Dominick George "Don" Pardo joined the NBC Radio Network as an announcer in June of 1944 -- or, as Lorne Michaels once pointed out, "before I was born."

Michaels hired Pardo in September of 1975 as the original announcer for Saturday Night Live and, save for one season in the '80s, he has been the announcer ever since.

That streak ended with last May's season finale. Pardo died Monday (August 18) in Tucson, AZ. He was 96.

Up until the last few seasons, Pardo still flew to New York every weekend to work the show. He would leave his condo in Tucson, fly to New York, then cab it to Manhattan's Rockefeller Plaza where he would head to the eighth floor, stand in Studio 8-H and bellow, "It's Saturday Night Live!"

He tried to retire in 2004, but Michaels worked it so Pardo could continue to be the voice of the show from a special studio built into his Arizona condo.

Pardo's distinct baritone is also associated with several game shows. He announced the old Art Fleming
version of Jeopardy! during the '60s and worked The Price is Right back in the '50s. Fleming always made a point of mentioning Pardo's name on air. The original daytime version of Jeopardy! ended in 1975, allowing Pardo to accept the offer to announce on SNL.

As the on-duty booth announcer for WNBC in New York on November 22, 1963, Pardo was also the first to break the news to NBC viewers that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. (His 1:45:03 p.m. EST bulletin interrupted a rerun of Bachelor Father in New York.) Believed for years to be lost, Pardo's historic announcement was recorded off the air and archived by then-amateur audio buff Phil Gries, who donated it to the Kennedy Library in 1997.

Saturday Night Live returns this September for a 40th season. Michaels -- who, incredibly, turns 70 in November -- says there will be a salute to Pardo. Who will replace him? That hasn't been announced yet, but long-time SNL impressionist Darrell Hammond did substitute one time for Pardo when the announcer had to miss a week two years ago due to hip surgery.

For a sweet little video salute to Pardo, prepared for his 2004 NBC "retirement," go here.
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Here's a question one of you might be able to answer, one that's germane to Pardo's passing. In the very first few episodes of SNL, before it was even called SNL, there used to be a segment with a Muppet skit, and one of the Muppet characters was a rubber mask of a man they called The Mighty Favard (sp?), with a deep, booming bass voice. Was the intent to riff on Don Pardo's "Voice of God" persona, and was it Pardo's voice and his face used for the character? Anyone know what I'm talking about?
Aug 24, 2014   |  Reply
Linda Donovan
I remember the Muppets on the first season of SNL and I think this is what you're asking about, Neil. http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/The_Land_of_Gorch Thanks for the great memory!
Aug 25, 2014
A minor correction: the original Jeopardy ended in 1975, not '85.
Aug 21, 2014   |  Reply
Linda Donovan
Oops... Thank you, Neil...
Aug 21, 2014
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