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Don Pardo: The voice behind ‘Saturday Night Live’ and 'Jeopardy!' remembered

Fans and viewers of “Saturday Night Live” have lost one of its long-time treasures, “SNL’s” famed announcer, Don Pardo. He passed away Monday in Tucson, Arizona. Pardo was 96. Even at that age he managed to do his voiceover introductions up until the 2013-2014 season finale. In his later years those announcements came from a studio in Tucson. At the behest of the show’s producer, Lorne Michaels, he did commute to New York City in the 2000s.

Don Pardo in 2010.
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

NBC’s Saturday Night,” (later changed to “Saturday Night Live” in 1977) as it was called back then, first aired on October 11, 1975 with George Carlin as the guest host. Don Pardo’s job was in announcing from a recording booth at Studio 8H, “its Saturday Night!” He then followed up by introducing the cast members of that season, a celebrity guest host and one musical guest. This has become a permanent fixture for nearly 40 years.

Before there was a late-night comedy and music show, Pardo was an in-house announcer for NBC since the 1950s. On November 22, 1963 he became part of history by interrupting the following program on WNBC. It was breaking news about President Kennedy has been shot in Dallas, Texas. In 1964 he became an announcer for a new game show produced by Merv Griffith called “Jeopardy!.” Art Fleming was the host, and Pardo remained on this intellectually advanced quiz show for 11 years (1975), only missing one broadcast out of 2,700 productions.

Current and former “SNL” castmates have been tweeting their thoughts, like one from Colin Jost who remembers Andy Samberg making Pardo say something out of character. Most of the quotes and tweets have been what an honor it was to hear their name announced by this extraordinary announcer. Don Pardo was only one of two NBC employees with a lifetime contract within the network.