With his smooth-sounding voice, Don Pardo is perhaps one of the best-known television announcers of all time, beginning his career in the 1940s at NBC Radio. Staying with NBC, Pardo made the move to TV in the 1950s, working on a number of game shows, including The Price Is Right. Pardo took on a new challenge in 1975, becoming the announcer for the hit sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live.
Born Dominick George Pardo on February 22, 1918, in Westfield, Massachusetts, Don Pardo is one of the most well-known announcers in television history. With his smooth-sounding voice, he has worked on news programs and many popular television shows, including Saturday Night Live. He began his career in the late 1930s with a job at a local radio station in Rhode Island. In 1944, Pardo joined NBC radio.
Staying with NBC, Pardo made the move to television in the 1950s, serving as a staff announcer. He worked on a number of game shows, including Remember This Date and The Price Is Right and became the announcer for the original version of Jeopardy! in the mid-1960s.
Saturday Night Live
After about a decade with Jeopardy!, Pardo took on a new challenge in 1975, becoming the announcer for the hit sketch comedy series, Saturday Night Live. In addition to his announcing duties, he joined musical guest Frank Zappa to recite part of the song "I'm the Slime" in 1976. This led to further collaboration between Pardo and Zappa with Pardo providing the narration to two other Zappa songs. Despite his distinguished career as a broadcaster, Pardo has not been poking fun at himself, providing the voiceover for numerous commercial and game shows spoofs and other skits. He was even the subject of sketch known as "Don Pardo: The First Fifty Years."
In addition to Saturday Night Live, Pardo has taken on small acting roles, including appearing as a game show announcer in the music video for Weird Al Yankovic's song, "I Lost on Jeopardy," in 1984, and as the "Guess That Tune" host in Radio Days (1987). More recently, he guest starred on the gritty prison drama Oz in 2001. Pardo has also served as the announcer for Wheel of Fortune during some of the show's visits to New York City and as the for local and national NBC news programs. He is one of the few people ever to receive a lifetime contract from NBC.
Recent Years and Death
Pardo tried to retire from SNL in 2004, but the show's producers begged him to stay on. He moved to Arizona in 2006 where he prerecorded many of his announcements for the show. In 2009, Pardo was inducted into the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame. He announced in his speech at the induction ceremony that he would be retiring from Saturday Night Live. But he eventually changed his mind. That same year, Pardo received another special award. He was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame—becoming of one of few announcers to ever be inducted into the hall.
Into his nineties, Pardo continued to work on Saturday Night Live. He often recorded his work for the comedy show at his Arizona home instead of the show's New York studios, according to a report in USA Today. Pardo had to miss one episode of the show in March 2013, however, after falling and breaking his hip. His SNL duties were handled by comedian Darrell Hammond who did his impression of Pardo for that week's show.
Pardo remained with Saturday Night Live until his passing. He died at his Arizona home on August 18, 2014. Pardo was warmly remembered by his friends and colleagues. Late night host and former SNL performer Jimmy Fallon told The Hollywood Reporter that "Nothing is like the moment when Don Pardo says your name."
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