LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Veteran broadcaster Don Pardo, the seldom-seen, booming-voiced announcer for NBC’s television sketch comedy show “Saturday Night Live” for nearly 40 years, died on Monday aged 96, the New York Times and other media reported.
Pardo’s death at his home in Tucson, Arizona, where he had continued to pre-record his weekly introductions for the New York-based “Saturday Night Live” during the past few years, was confirmed by his daughter, Dona Pardo, the Times said.
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 Catalog.”
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 Feb. 22, 1918, in Westfield, Massachusetts, and his wife, Kay, had five children. Kay died in 1995.
Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Andrew Heavens