Don Pardo, the iconic announcer behind 'Saturday Night Live,' dies at 96

By Daniel S Levine,

Don Pardo, the booming announcer whose voice announced the cast members of Saturday Night Live for over three decades, has died. He was 96.

An NBC spokesperson broke the news to The Hollywood Reporter Monday night. He died in his sleep, although no further details were made public, notes NBC News.

Pardo started at SNL from the show’s inception, but by September 1975, he had already been at the network for 31 years. He was born in Westfield, Massachusetts and got his start on radio in Rhode Island. In 1944, he took a fateful trip to New York, where he auditioned for NBC and was hired days later. He was even an early TV announcer for baseball games for the network.

In 1956, he became the announcer for The Price Is Right. When the show headed to California, he stayed in New York and became the voice of JEOPARDY!.

On Nov. 22, 1963, many Americans heard the news of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination from Padro first. “President Kennedy was shot today just as his motorcade left downtown Dallas. Mrs. Kennedy jumped up and grabbed Mr. Kennedy,” his bulletin read. “She cried, ‘Oh, no.'”

Aside from short breaks, including in March 2013 after he broke his hip, Padro announced nearly every opening for SNL. He even officially retired in 2004, but Lorne Michaels continued to employ his signature voice.

“He was very much an 'announcer‚'” Michaels told THR of Pardo’s voice. “That’s what I wanted, that authority voice.”

From now on, SNL will have a new voice, but no one announced the Not Ready For Primetime Players like Padro.

image courtesy of Walter McBride/INFphoto.com

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