Don Pardo, 96, 'Saturday Night Live' announcer
Don Pardo, 96, the Saturday Night Live announcer whose career spanned the history of television and who made memorable appearances in skits and music videos that played the booming cadence of his voice for laughs, died Monday at his home in Tucson, Ariz.
Mr. Pardo spent much of his career at NBC, transitioning from radio and then to television over 60 years, and was one of the most recognizable voices of American television.
He helped enliven countless news reports, commercials, game shows, and soap operas before winning his most high-profile assignment, on Saturday Night Live, where he worked largely uninterrupted from 1975 to 2009 and even through more recent seasons; after formally retiring in 2004, he often recorded his SNL assignments in Tucson.
In 2010, he became the only announcer ever inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame.
As one of NBC's leading game-show announcers, he worked on The Price Is Right from 1956 until the program moved to ABC in 1963 and then on Jeopardy! from 1964 to 1975.
Mr. Pardo subsequently joined the new comedy variety show Saturday Night Live, where he introduced the ever-changing cast and guest stars with the dramatic enthusiasm of a circus announcer - both homage and parody of an announcing technique from old-time radio.
Cultural historian Robert Thompson described Mr. Pardo's appeal as "sincere, straightforward, and old-school."
Dominick George Pardo was born Feb. 22, 1918, in Westfield, Mass., and grew up in Norwich, Conn. In an interview for the Television Academy Foundation's Archive of American Television, Mr. Pardo recalled discussing his career options with his father, who operated a bakery.
"My father wanted me to be a baker and take over the business someday," Mr. Pardo said. "I told him I wanted to be a dentist. 'A dentist?' he asked. 'Don't you know there is a Depression on in this country? People are not buying cakes and pies any longer! They are just buying bread, rye bread! So they are not going to bother fixing their teeth!' "
When he decided on professional acting, his father pointed to a newspaper photo of actors queuing in Times Square for a free cup of coffee and a doughnut, saying, "You want to be an actor? Look at this!"
With little appetite for college coursework, Mr. Pardo enrolled in night diction classes while working as a ticket taker in theaters. In 1938, a Providence radio producer approached him about a broadcast position at WJAR-AM. Mr. Pardo responded, "Radio? I am an actor!" Nonetheless, he gave radio a try and was soon hired by NBC.
He was married to Catherine "Kay" Lyons from 1938 until her death in 1995.