The legendary “Saturday Night Live” announcer Don Pardo passed away on Monday, in his sleep, at the age of 96 in Tucson, Arizona. He was the famous voice who announced “It’s Saturday night live!” from the very first episode of “S.N.L.” in October, 1975.
Pardo, who introduced television viewers to some of America’s biggest stars ad soon-to-be-stars began his career in the radio age. He continued through the end of the last season of “S.N.L.” in May, when he performed the introductions on the finale, hosted by Andy Samberg.
Since 1975, he performed the introductions for 38 seasons, while missing only during season 7. Each week at the end of the opening skit, he gave something special to viewers. For many of them, the names of stars were first heard in his sonorous baritone. Lorne Michaels, the show’s creator who hired Pardo in 1975, said that “every year, the new cast couldn’t wait to hear their name said by him.”
For the older generation, Pardo was familiar way before Michaels started “S.N.L.” He was the announcer for an assortment of widely watched game shows, including two of the most popular television has ever seen, “The Price Is Right” and “Jeopardy!” And although many people didn’t knew his face, they all knew his voice for a span of more than half a century.
His voice was a validation of some sort to all the soon-to-be-stars who were trying to get it big. When Mr. Pardo said your name, you knew you’ve made it. As Maya Rudolph told Mr. Pardo in a video tribute when he was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame in 2010, “The moment you said my name was the height of my career.”
Dominick George Pardo was born on Feb. 22, 1918, in Westfield, Mass. He got his middle name due to the fact he was born on George Washington’s birthday. His father, also named Dominick, a bakery owner, and his mother, Viola, were immigrants from Poland.
Pardo’s eventual first name was the result of a several-step process to distinguish himself from his father. “They used to call me Nicky, and I didn’t like that,” he said in an oral history he recorded in 2006 for the Archive of American Television. “So when I got into radio, I took up Dom.” That, though, didn’t stick. “People would always say ‘Don,’ ” Mr. Pardo continued. “I said, the heck with it; I’ll be Don.”
Don Pardo is survived by his daughters, Paula, Dona and Katherine, and his sons, David and Michael, as well as five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Michael said the show would surely present a tribute to Pardo next season.
“It was a happy accident and in some great way our lives intertwined,” he said. “It was always exciting. Whatever montage we did to open the show, whatever pictures we used it didn’t really come alive till you heard him say it.”