Hey, Don Pardo, tell her what she’s won!
With an authoritative voice, an underrated ability to inflect and decades of credibility from his work on beloved television shows, Don Pardo managed to earn one of two lifetime contracts NBC ever gave out, putting him on a pedestal alongside Bob Hope. If any announcer ever deserved that lofty company, it was Don Pardo. He worked for the Peacock Network for 70 years, a run which sadly came to an end when he passed away on Monday evening at the age of 96.
Following college, Pardo began work as a radio man in Providence, Rhode Island. That led to an audition with NBC in 1944. He was hired and soon started working both the news and baseball broadcasts for the network. By the late 1950s, he was the primary voice behind hit game shows like Price Is Right. He would later add Jeopardy and Saturday Night Live, among many others to his lengthy resume. Thanks to an almost forty-year-run, SNL is what Pardo became most famous for and will likely be most remembered for.
Each week, Pardo introduced the world to the Not Ready For Primetime Players, and in doing so, he told the audience for the first time about then unknowns like Bill Murray, John Belushi, Eddie Murphy, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Adam Sandler, Gilda Radner, Chevy Chase, David Spade and Jimmy Fallon. Now and again, he even played a role in sketches and poked fun at himself. Over the years, he tried to retire a few times, but Lorne Michaels and company were always able to coax him back.
Still, the most memorable moment of Don Pardo’s career didn’t involve any of those shows. Instead, it involved one of the worst moments in the nation’s history. Following the assassination of John F Kennedy, the announcer was chosen to interrupt the regularly scheduled program to tell viewers the President had just been shot. It was a tall order, no doubt, but it was one he handled with the same class, professionalism and honor that defined his career. He maintained his nerve and calmly told viewers that the world would never be the same.
By all accounts, Don Pardo was a hell of a nice guy. He was married to his wife Catherine for fifty-seven years until her death in 1995, and together, they raised five children. Cinema Blend’s thoughts go out to his surviving family members, as well as everyone else who was touched by his life. He will be missed.