Don Pardo, the ubiquitous TV and radio announcer whose booming baritone became as much a part of the cultural landscape as the shows and products he touted, including “Saturday Night Live,” died Monday in Arizona. He was 96.
Pardo died at his home in Tucson, where he moved after retiring from “SNL,” said his daughter, Dona Pardo. Executive producer Lorne Michaels asked him to continue with the show, so he flew back and forth to New York for many years. In recent years, he recorded his introductions from his Tucson home.
Pardo’s majestic delivery, with its swoops in pitch and pregnant pauses, graced newscasts, game shows and TV programs for more than 60 years. During the original version of “Jeopardy!,” his answers to the question, “Tell ’em what they’ve won, Don Pardo,” became a memorable part of the program.
And he was an integral part of “Saturday Night Live” for almost four decades in his role heralding the cast’s names to kick off each show, which led former cast member Jimmy Fallon to comment later, “Nothing is like the moment when Don Pardo says your name.” He continued at “SNL” through the end of last season, when he performed the introductions on the finale in May, noted an AP story.
After graduating from Boston’s Emerson College in 1942, began his vocal career at WJAR-AM Providence. Two years later, he met a supervisor at NBC who hired the young Pardo immediately upon hearing his voice. He moved to NBC’s New York affiliate, and never left the network.
Pardo made his mark right away, reading news dispatches on the radio filed from the front lines during World War II. After the war, he became an announcer for such shows as the “Arthur Murray Party,” ”Colgate Comedy Hour” and “Your Show of Shows.”
In 1954, he was brought in to announce “Winner Takes All,” beginning a long run in game shows. His voice was heard on the “The Price is Right” in its early years, and he was the announcer on the original “Jeopardy!” (1964-75), hosted by Art Fleming.
Then in 1975, NBC launched “Saturday Night Live” with Pardo as its announcer, introducing him to a new generation of viewers with a voice as magnificent as ever — although, on opening night, he botched one of the credits. Instead of saying “The Not Ready for Prime Time Players,” Pardo introduced the show’s new comedy troupe as “The Not for Ready Prime Time Players.” But with a voice like his, any name sounded impressive.
Pardo retired from NBC in 2004.
Pardo also appeared in several movies, mostly as himself or an announcer like himself, including “Radio Days,” Woody Allen’s celebration of the Golden Age of broadcasting, in which Pardo played a game show host. He also made a guest appearance on Frank Zappa’s 1978 album, “Zappa in New York,” and “Weird Al” Yankovic’s 1984 album, “In 3-D.”
In 2010, Pardo was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Hall of Fame. He is survived by five children.