Don Pardo, the booming voice of NBC’s famed TV sketch show Saturday Night Live for over 40 years, has died.
The veteran broadcaster passed away at his home in Tucson, Arizona, where he pre-recorded his weekly introductions for the New York-based comedy programme during the last few years.
His daughter, Dona Pardo, confirmed the news to the New York Times yesterday (18 August).
Pardo, who began his six-decade-plus broadcasting career in the radio age of the 1930s, was with Saturday Night Live for its debut in 1975 and was the show's announcer every year since then, except during its 1981-1982 season.
Viewers heard him at the beginning of the show announcing the cast and guest stars in his grand, distinctive style, stretching out words for effect. He also closed each show by reading the guests slated to appear for the following week, and sometimes performed voice-overs in skits.
In doing so, he literally introduced TV audiences to some of the era's biggest names in show business, including such comedy power houses as John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Billy Crystal, Chris Rock, Mike Myers, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Adam Sandler, and Maya Rudolph.
“There is nothing like the moment when Don Pardo says your name at the beginning of the show,” Jimmy Fallon, a former SNL cast member said on his own NBC late-night show. “Nothing like that thrill. You almost want to cry.”
Pardo made rare on-screen appearances on SNL, including the time he donned a white tuxedo for a sketch with avant garde rock guitarist Frank Zappa. The show's writers also used him in bits such as Don Pardo's Holiday in an Elevator, Waiting for Pardo and The Don Pardo Digital Gift Catalogue.
He also was brought on stage at the end of a 2008 show to celebrate his 90th birthday.
Pardo started his broadcasting career at a radio station in Providence, Rhode Island in 1938 and joined NBC in 1944. He announced the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to NBC listeners in 1963.
Before Saturday Night Live, game shows provided steady work. He was the announcer for early incarnations of The Price Is Right, Three on a Match, Winning Streak, Jackpot and the original Jeopardy!
Pardo, who was born Dominick George Pardo on 22 February 1918, in Westfield, Massachusetts, and his wife, Kay, had five children. Kay Pardo died in 1995.
Additional reporting by Reuters