The iconic voice of Saturday Night Live has passed away. News broke last night that Don Pardo, who worked as SNL’s announcer since the show’s debut in 1975, died in his home of Tucson, Arizona at the age of 96. Pardo’s voice is synonymous with SNL’s opening credit sequence, and Lorne Michaels told the New York Times that “every year the new cast couldn’t wait to hear their name said by him.” When asked what SNL will do without Pardo, Michaels said: “I don’t know what I’ll do. It won’t be the first time I’ve thought of it, and I’ve never had an answer.”
Earlier in his career Pardo also worked as the announcer for The Price Is Right, Jeopardy, Three on a Match, and NBC Nightly News, and he was the first announcer to be inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 2010. He first joined NBC in 1944 and served as SNL’s announcer for a total of 38 seasons, skipping only season 7 and several episodes last year. Michaels told the New York Times that SNL will prepare a tribute to Pardo to air sometime this season and looked back on working with the legendary announcer: “It was a happy accident and in some great way our lives intertwined. It was always exciting. Whatever montage we did to open the show, whatever pictures we used it didn’t really come alive till you heard him say it.”
Click here to watch a clip from Tina Fey’s 2008 SNL episode in which Pardo blows out his 90th birthday candles on the 8H stage, then click through to read some present and former SNLers’ tributes to Pardo on Twitter.