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Don Pardo dies: 'SNL' announcer dead at age 96, had longtime career

Don Pardo, the unique voice of "Saturday Night Live" for nearly 40 years, has died. Daughter Dona Pardo confirmed that Don Pardo died peacefully in his sleep at his Tuscon, Ariz., home Monday evening, according to USA Today on Aug. 19. His career amazingly spanned seven decades. Pardo was 96.

SNL announcer Don Pardo died in his sleep Monday evening at his Arizona home, he was 96.
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Pardo was the sole announcer for SNL since its 1975 inception, except for the '81-'82 season. His voice, heard at the introduction of the sketch comedy show, was so infused with the program that viewers immediately noticed his absence on March 2, 2013. It was later reported that he had suffered a broken hip.

Don's famous velvety-baritone voice boomed over microphones and over the airwaves after one of the actors in the show's opening sketch cried out the signature line, "Live, from New York, it's Saturday Night." Pardo then announced the show's title, and listed the names of cast members, the night's host and musical guests.

Part of the reason his voice was so recognizable, according to US Weekly, was the way he elongated his words as he spoke them. Having officially retired in 2004, he continued to provide the SNL introductions, most recently recording them from his Arizona home.

In 2010, Pardo became the first announcer inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in recognition of his lifetime in broadcasting. His body of work aside from SNL included several game shows, including the original versions of "The Price Is Right" and "Jeopardy." He also worked on various soap operas and news programs.

Born Dominick Pardo on Feb. 22, 1918, in Westfield, Mass., he acted in high-school productions and won the Newton Perkins Prize for public speaking in his senior year. He later attended Boston’s Emerson College, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He once admitted he wanted to be an actor, but figured he wasn’t good-looking enough.

Upon his 2004 retirement he was offered a lifetime contract, if he chose to accept it. Pardo later confessed he'd discovered only two people ever had lifetime contracts at NBC, the other being Bob Hope.

"There is nothing is like the moment when Don Pardo says your name," said former SNL cast member Jimmy Fallon, adding "Nothing like that thrill. You almost want to cry." Pardo's wife Kay died in 1995. The couple had five children. RIP Don, SNL will never sound the same.

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