Dominick George "Don" Pardo
(born February 22
) is an American
radio and television announcer
. He is noted for his long association with NBC
, and in particular with Saturday Night Live
, for whom he has been the announcer for all but one of its seasons, and continues today as the program's announcer, several years after his official retirement from NBC.
Pardo was born in Westfield, Massachusetts
, spending his childhood in Norwich, Connecticut
, and Providence, Rhode Island
. He was hired for his first radio position at WJAR in Providence c.1938. He joined NBC
as an in-house announcer in 1944, remaining on the network staff for the next 60 years. He is the last of the "lifetime" employees of NBC.
In the early 1950s, he served as announcer for many of RCA and NBC's closed-circuit color television demonstrations, but eventually became one of the top game show announcers for the network.
Pardo made his mark on game shows for NBC as the booming voice of The Price Is Right from 1956 until it moved to ABC in 1963, then Call My Bluff. The next year, he moved over to Jeopardy!, which he announced from 1964 until the original version of the series ended in 1975. Pardo reprised that role with a cameo voiceover in "Weird Al" Yankovic's 1984 song "I Lost on Jeopardy" (a parody of the Greg Kihn Band 1983 hit song Jeopardy). He also announced numerous other New York-based NBC game shows such as Three on a Match, Winning Streak, and Jackpot! (all three of which were Bob Stewart productions).
Pardo squeezed in many other assignments at NBC including the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (until 1999), WNBC-TV's Live at Five news program, NBC Nightly News, and Wheel of Fortune (during two special on-location weeks in 1988, when the show originated from New York and the show was using substitute announcers after Jack Clark's death).
Pardo was the on-duty live booth announcer for WNBC-TV in New York and the NBC network on November 22, 1963, and he was first to announce to NBC viewers that President John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas. (His first bulletin interrupted a local WNBC-TV broadcast of "Bachelor Father" before the NBC network went live with the story.) Because NBC was slow to begin videotaping the coverage, for decades it was believed that Pardo's historic bulletins were lost. However, almost 40 years later an audio tape of the bulletins was discovered in a private collection.
Saturday Night Live
His best-known announcing work is for the television series Saturday Night Live
; he has been with the show since it premiered in 1975
, except for one season (1981
), when it was announced by Mel Brandt
. After "Live, from New York..." which is cried out at the end of the opening skit, Don Pardo names the cast members and musical guest(s) in a voice-over during the opening credits. He is famous for flubbing a line on the very first show, calling the cast "The Not for Ready
Prime Time Players" instead of "The Not Ready for
Prime Time Players". According to Pardo, his announcing booth in Studio 8-H
, from which Saturday Night Live
is telecast, is located in approximately the very same area on which Arturo Toscanini
would stand when conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra
in Rockefeller Center between 1937 and 1950 (Toscanini's broadcasts later moved to Carnegie Hall
In December 1976 on one memorable SNL episode, Pardo participated in a musical performance by Frank Zappa, reciting a verse of the song "I'm the Slime." Pardo subsequently reprised this role on the live-recorded version of the song for the Zappa in New York album (it was not featured on the first release in 1978, but it appears on the 1993 CD re-release). He also provided narration for the songs "The Illinois Enema Bandit" and "Punky's Whips" (a business dispute between Zappa and his then record company led to "Punky's Whips" being removed from the 1978 album, but the song was reinstated on the 1993 CD.)
Pardo officially "retired" from NBC in 2004 and moved to Tucson, Arizona
. However, the producers of Saturday Night Live
convinced him to continue providing the introductions for their show. In 2006, he decided to begin prerecording his announcements from a home studio in Arizona
. That lasted only a few episodes before producers insisted they needed him present in Studio 8H, and he resumed flying to New York
on a weekly basis to do the show. On Saturday, February 23
, a vibrant Pardo appeared at the closing of SNL to blow out the candles of his 90th birthday cake.
Pardo is still heard during the open and close of Len Berman's "Spanning the World" segments on WNBC and Today.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Pardo also recorded announcements for radio stations affiliated with The Source programming service (syndicated by Westwood One
). Recordings from those days are still used on some programs, such as " 10@10
" on KFOG
-FM, San Francisco
and The Bob and Tom Show
In 1982. Pardo provided the distinctive opening narration for the US version of the film The Secret Policeman's Other Ball featuring members of Monty Python. In 1983, he narrated the animated opening sequence of the TV special/home-video sequel ''The Secret Policeman's Private Parts".
In 1986, Pardo contributed to the first album in TVT Records' Television's Greatest Hits series of compilations of TV-series theme songs. His voice can be heard opening and closing the album, as if it were a real TV station's broadcast day.
In the late-1980s, Pardo recorded in-store advertisements for department store chain Bradlees.
Don's voice can be heard in the pre-recorded breakdown and delay spiels for the "Cat in the Hat" ride at Islands of Adventure theme park at the Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, Florida.