Whether you knew him by name or not, you knew his voice. Whether you even knew he existed or not, he was a television staple for the last 39 years. Don Pardo, Saturday Night Live’s announcer since the very first episode, has passed away at the age of 96 at his Arizona home. So what better way to honor the TV legend than with 15 facts you more than likely didn’t know about him. I have to say, a few of these surprised me as well.
#15: You can hear Don Pardo on Weird Al Yankovic’s song “I Lost on Jeopardy”. He even makes an appearance in the music video.
#14: He carried cough drops everywhere.
#13: He joined NBC in 1944 and gained popularity in the 1950s and 1960s as the announcer for classic game shows The Price is Right (1956-1963), and Jeopardy! (1964-1975).
#12: Don Pardo had announced every single season of SNL excluding the seventh (the season Lorne Michaels famously left the show). Afterward, Lorne Michaels realized how important his talents were to SNL so they brought him back with a lifetime contract. The only other person to have a lifetime contract with NBC in the network’s history was Bob Hope.
#11: He was the voice of the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade until 1999.
#10: Pardo’s voice broke the news that President Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22nd, 1963.
#9: In the early days of SNL, Pardo announced the show from the hallway. He was then moved into a proper booth later on.
#8: When reading live on air “Not Ready For Primetime Players”, Pardo famously flubbed the line instead saying “Not For Ready Primetime Players”.
#7: Pardo would commute from Tucson, Arizona to New York every Thursday through Saturday. He recorded his lines every now and again from his home in Arizona, but for the most part made the trip every week.
#6: Don Pardo’s middle name is George, because he was born on George Washington’s birthday, Feb. 22, 1918.
#5: He appeared in Woody Allen’s Radio Days (1987) as the ‘Guess That Tune’ host.
#4: His first job was as a ticket taker in Conneticut where he grew up. “I’d go out there with a cape and say: `Standing room only in the mezzanine. Immediate seating in the balcony.”‘ It was then he knew he had a knack for utilizing his voice.
#3: Pardo auditioned as an announcer for NBC when he was 26-years old. The audition was so fast that he thought he must’ve been terrible.
#2: SNL castmember and brilliant impersonator Darrel Hammond impersonated Don Pardo one night when Pardo had laryngitis. His impression was so good, Pardo’s sister called her brother up to congratulate him for doing a great job. Watch the story HERE.
#1: When Lorne Michaels was asked about his long collaboration with Don Pardo, he said “My lighting director, Phil Hyms is 91, and he’s out there every night for the warm-up, and he’s not lost a step. So, maybe there’s something healthy in the studio. I don’t think it’s Shangri-La, but maybe there’s something.”
Follow me at @Todd_Spence