skip navigation
Don Pardo

Don Pardo

Up
Down

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Recent DVDs

 
 

Radio Days DVD Woody Allen's heartfelt tribute to the Golden Age of Radio features a stellar... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now



Also Known As: Died:
Born: February 22, 1918 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Westfield, Massachusetts, USA Profession:

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Beloved as the baritone voice of "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ), Don Pardo read the cast roll at the start of that late night comedy juggernaut for several decades, right from its inception in 1975. Aside from the 1981-82 season when the show was in a state of creative flux and hired a new announcer, Pardo rarely missed an episode and became almost as identified with the program as any of the comedic superstars it spawned. In his early days, he had worked for a time as a radio actor and was offered his first announcing job. His considerable aptitude soon earned him employment with NBC and he transitioned from radio to television, enjoying a lengthy run as the announcer for the earliest incarnations of "The Price is Right" (NBC/ABC/CBS, 1955- ) and "Jeopardy!" (NBC/syndicated, 1964- ). The most complicated, alliterative copy flowed smoothly and effortlessly when read by Pardo and his unmistakable delivery made him one of television's greatest vocal talents. That gravitas and professionalism was just what Lorne Michaels desired for his upstart late night program, providing both a perfect contrast to its counter-culture brand of humor and a connection to the classic television the show's talent was...

Beloved as the baritone voice of "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ), Don Pardo read the cast roll at the start of that late night comedy juggernaut for several decades, right from its inception in 1975. Aside from the 1981-82 season when the show was in a state of creative flux and hired a new announcer, Pardo rarely missed an episode and became almost as identified with the program as any of the comedic superstars it spawned. In his early days, he had worked for a time as a radio actor and was offered his first announcing job. His considerable aptitude soon earned him employment with NBC and he transitioned from radio to television, enjoying a lengthy run as the announcer for the earliest incarnations of "The Price is Right" (NBC/ABC/CBS, 1955- ) and "Jeopardy!" (NBC/syndicated, 1964- ). The most complicated, alliterative copy flowed smoothly and effortlessly when read by Pardo and his unmistakable delivery made him one of television's greatest vocal talents. That gravitas and professionalism was just what Lorne Michaels desired for his upstart late night program, providing both a perfect contrast to its counter-culture brand of humor and a connection to the classic television the show's talent was weaned on. One of only two performers to ever have a lifetime contract with NBC, Pardo's authoritative, but energetic and joyous delivery was an indisputable part of the network's history and a key component of the legacy of "Saturday Night Live."

Dominick George Pardo was born in Westfield, MA on Feb. 22, 1918. The desire to perform hit Pardo around the time that he appeared in a high school staging of "A Christmas Carol" as Bob Cratchit. After winning a public speaking prize during his final year at Norwich Free Academy, Pardo had to make a choice. His father wanted him to take over the family baking business someday, but Pardo was eager to become either a dentist or a lawyer. However, his high school guidance counselor heartily recommended that Pardo take advantage of his great voice and enviable communication talent. Pardo took the advice to heart and further enhanced those gifts with speech classes. He had his first radio exposure in 1938 on the Providence, RI station WJAR-AM as part of the 20th Century Players acting group. Impressed by Pardo's ability to read long copy in a correct and dynamic fashion, the manager offered him an announcing position. That same year, Pardo married Catherine Lyons, a union that would produce three children and last almost six decades until her passing in 1995.

Although he initially went by the name Dom, he grew tired of having to correct people and finally just accepted being Don Pardo. His duties mainly involved acting as a "hitchhike announcer" who would provide the "Tune in tomorrow " teaser at the end of various programs. Following several years in that position, Pardo was offered a job at NBC in 1944 when the military draft left it short of vocal talent. As was common for newcomers, he started on the late shift, but was eventually instructed to do commentary for three baseball games that aired on the network's experimental television broadcasts of 1946. Although he found it much less satisfying than radio, NBC was happy with his performance and assigned him more TV duties, including a pair of soap operas and programs starring Fred Allen and Perry Como. He also began to appear on camera, reading commercials and acting on the Gene Rayburn children's game show "Choose up Sides" (NBC, 1953) as Mr. Mischief.

Pardo was soon chosen to be the regular announcer on the initial NBC incarnation of game show mainstay "The Price is Right" (NBC/ABC/CBS, 1955- ). At the conclusion of season eight, the program was moved over to ABC and producer Mark Goodson offered to take him along to the new production headquarters in California. A sizeable raise was also included as part of the enticement. However, Pardo decided that he liked the stability of working in New York and was wary of freelancing. Continuing on with his former duties, Pardo was later involved in a very unfortunate bit of history. At 1:45PM on Nov. 22, 1963, he broke into the regular NBC broadcast to report that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. It was the first time this grim news was presented on the network, which would devote more than 70 hours coverage over the next three days to the assassination. The following year, NBC tapped Pardo for "Jeopardy!" (NBC/syndication, 1964- ), which also turned into an enduring classic and provided him with a regular gig for 11 seasons. He boasted a sterling attendance record, missing only one single show out of more than 2,700.

As with "The Price is Right," Pardo remained on "Jeopardy!" until it left the network in 1975. In the fall of that year, the veteran voiceover man began the assignment for which he would be best remembered. A new venture in late night broadcasting, "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) was an attempt to attract the youth and counter-culture audience using the classic television format of sketch comedy and the long-abandoned concept of doing it all live without a net. Created by Lorne Michaels and centered around a once-in-a-lifetime collection of talented young comics, including John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner and Dan Aykroyd, the hiring of Pardo as the show's announcer was a further contrast/tie-in to the early days of the medium. Although he legendarily botched the opening of the very first episode of "SNL," Pardo's voiceovers became an important part of the show that viewers looked forward to each week. When Jean Doumanian took over from Michaels as showrunner in November of 1980, there was a talent shake-up and Pardo was let go in favor of Mel Brandt. However, the experiment failed mightily and both Michaels and Pardo were back in their old roles the next season as if nothing had happened.

In between his continuing obligations at NBC's 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Pardo occasionally capitalized on his celebrity as America's favorite announcer by appearing in other projects. He memorably contributed to the humorous 1984 music video for "I Lost on Jeopardy," comedian Weird Al Yankovic's send-up of that program and the Greg Kihn Band hit song "Jeopardy," and performed as the host of "Guess That Tune" in Woody Allen's "Radio Days" (1987), an affectionate homage to the early days of that medium. Pardo's vocal talents were also heard in movie theatres as game show announcers in the comedies "Honeymoon in Vegas" (1992) and "Stay Tuned" (1992). Aside from Bob Hope, Pardo was the only NBC employee with a lifetime contract. He finally decided to finally retire in 2004, but was convinced by Michaels to continue providing his intros recorded in advance from his new home in Arizona. However, following a few weeks of that arrangement, Pardo agreed to periodically fly back to New York City to resume his duties in person and also guest starred in an episode of the well-respected sitcom "30 Rock" (NBC, 2006-2013). Unfortunately, less than a month after his 95th birthday, Pardo broke his hip. Former cast member Darrell Hammond stepped in to perform Pardo's duties on the March 2, 2013 episode of "SNL," but the much-loved voiceover man was trouper enough to step back behind his microphone in time for the following week's broadcast.

By John Charles

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Radio Days (1987) "Guess That Tune" Host
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1938:
Made radio debut on Providence, RI station WJAR-AM as member of 20th Century Players acting group
1944:
Joined NBC Radio as staff announcer
1946:
Began providing commentary for baseball games that aired on NBC's experimental television broadcasts
1949:
Made TV acting debut on "NBC Presents" episode "Anything But Love"
1953:
Appeared on Gene Rayburn children's game show "Choose up Sides" (NBC)
1956:
Served as announcer for popular game show "The Price Is Right" (NBC, ABC, Syndicated)
1963:
First reported news of President John F. Kennedy's assassination on NBC
1964:
Worked as announcer on "Jeopardy!" (NBC, Syndicated); only missed one show out of more than 2,700
1975:
Began longtime career as announcer for "Saturday Night Live" (NBC)
1987:
Cast as a game show host in Woody Allen's "Radio Days"
1992:
Landed roles as announcer in comedy features "Honeymoon in Vegas" and "Stay Tuned"
2004:
Announced retirement; continued providing intros for "SNL"
2009:
Made cameo on NBC sitcom "30 Rock," created by "SNL" alum Tina Fey
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute