Announcer known for voice, not face

| Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, 7:15 p.m.

NEW YORK — Few would recognize his face, but most knew his voice: the booming baritone that for nearly four decades heralded “Saturday Night Live.”

Don Pardo, the eras-spanning radio and TV announcer whose resonant voice-over style was celebrated for its majesty and power, died on Monday in Arizona. He was 96.

Pardo's strong jaw and leading-man smile were seldom on display, but for more than 60 years, his elegant pipes appeared in newscasts, game shows (during the original run of “Jeopardy!,” its emcee ritually called on him to “Tell ‘em what they've won, Don Pardo”) and especially “SNL,” where he played an integral role through last season, heralding the lineup, as always, as recently as the May finale.

“There was no greater thrill than hearing Don Pardo bellow your name for the first time in the opening credits of ‘Saturday Night Live,'” said longtime cast member Tina Fey. “It meant you were officially ‘on television.' ”

Fey described Pardo as “a sweet, sweet man,” adding, “Late night will never sound as cool again.”

“My whole life changed once Don Pardo said my name,” echoed Amy Poehler, a fellow “SNL” alum. “I will really miss that kind and talented man.”

His was no ordinary voice, and he guarded it closely, with cough drops always at the ready.

Pardo made his mark quickly, reading news dispatches on the radio filed from the front lines during World War II. After the war, he was the announcer for such shows as the “Arthur Murray Party,” ‘‘Colgate Comedy Hour” and “Your Show of Shows.”

When NBC debuted the cutting-edge “Saturday Night Live” in 1975 with Pardo as its old-school patriarch, he was discovered by a new generation — although, on opening night, he made a rare stumble, botching a credit. Instead of saying “The Not Ready for Prime Time Players,” Pardo introduced the comedy troupe as “The Not for Ready Prime Time Players.”

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