NEW YORK — Few would recognize his face, but most Americans would know his voice: a booming baritone that for nearly four decades would introduce the lineups on Saturday Night Live.
Don Pardo, the durable television and radio announcer whose resonant voice-over style was widely imitated and became the standard in the field, died Aug. 18 in Arizona at the age of 96.
Pardo graced newscasts, game shows and TV programs for more than 60 years. During the original version of Jeopardy!, his answers to the question, “Tell ‘em what they’ve won, Don Pardo,” became a memorable part of the program.
And he was an integral part of Saturday Night Live, heralding the cast’s names to kick off each show, which led former cast member Jimmy Fallon to comment later, “Nothing is like the moment when Don Pardo says your name.”
His was no ordinary voice and he guarded it closely, with cough drops always at the ready.
Dominick George Pardo was born in Massachusetts on Feb. 22, 1918. After graduating from Boston’s Emerson College in 1942, he began his vocal career at radio station WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island. Two years later, he met a supervisor at NBC who hired the young Pardo immediately.
Pardo made his mark right away, reading news dispatches on the radio filed from the front lines during World War II. After the war, he became an announcer for such shows as the Arthur Murray Party, Colgate Comedy Hour and Your Show of Shows.
In 1954, he was brought in to announce Winner Takes All, beginning a long run in game shows. His voice was heard on the The Price is Right in its early years, and he was the announcer on the original Jeopardy! (1964-75), hosted by Art Fleming.
Then in 1975, NBC launched Saturday Night Live with Pardo as its announcer, introducing him to a new generation of viewers with a voice as magnificent as ever — although, on opening night, he botched one of the credits.
He also introduced sportscaster Len Berman’s Spanning the World compilations of funny sports moments, a regular feature on the Today show. (“Tune in next time … if there IS a next time.”)
In between working on all these shows, Pardo often spent several hours a day in an NBC sound studio, letting viewers know before each break to a commercial that the last program was brought to them by a certain advertiser.
As such, he was one of the last network “booth announcers” working a regular daily shift, a classic broadcasting duty that fell prey to the modern age of easily pre-recorded messages.
Pardo retired from NBC in 2004, but continued announcing Saturday Night Live. In later years, he recorded his introductions from home, where he died peacefully, said his daughter Dona Pardo.
In 2010, he was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Hall of Fame. Pardo is survived by five children.
(FRAZIER MOORE, AP Television Writer)