If you’ve watched Saturday Night Live for any length of time, you know the voice of Don Pardo. In many ways he became one of the “Not Ready For Prime Time Players” solely based on his tenure with the series and producer Lorne Michaels. The radio and TV announcer has died. He was 96.
A Massachusetts native who grew up in Connecticut, Mr. Pardo died Monday evening, according to NBC spokesman Rich Licata. CBS Radio News used Twitter to share the news too:
Mr Pardo, whose voice was the first heard to deliver the news of the Kennedy assassination in 1963 on NBC, had voiced the intros for “SNL” except for one. He also missed one episode in 2013 due to a broken hip injury.
“SNL” alumnus Darrell Hammond filled in for the injured Mr. Pardo. Hammond’s turn as Mr. Pardo convinced his sister-in-law in Newport, Rhode Island he was back on TV and even acting. He speaks about it here:
Mr. Pardo began his six-decade tenure as a staff announcer at NBC in New York City in 1944. His credits also included “Caesar’s Hour” and “The Kate Smith Evening Hour” and game shows like “The Price Is Right” and the original version of “Jeopardy!.”
Mr. Pardo was a 2010 inductee into the Television Hall of Fame.
As for SNL, he reveals in the 2006 videotaped interviews for the Archive of American Television that Lorne Michaels used to write his closings. He said: “[Writer] Herb Sargent, I’ll never forget, came to me after the show. He says, `Do you know what you said? You said ‘Not for Ready.’ I says, “I did?”
Noting in the interview that he had said “Not Ready for Prime Time Players” correctly in the dress rehearsal, he recalled: “In the early days [of the show], I was like in a little hallway; it wasn’t a studio per se. I was there with a clipboard, and that was it. Maybe I got distracted by something. Whatever it was, I don’t know.”
The show was renamed “Saturday Night Live” in 1977, and Mr. Pardo remained the show’s announcer save for one season.
Mr. Pardo’s rich baritone authoritative voice was the perfect foil to the irreverent sketch comedy series of young players. He will be missed by several generations of SNL fans.
R.I.P. Mr. Pardo.