Legendary Saturday Night Live announcer Don Pardo has passed away at the age of 96, and he must have set some kind of record for having the longest run on a television show. Technically, he wasn’t part of one troubled SNL season, and there were a few fits of retirement, but Don Pardo was the voice of Saturday Night Live between 1975 and 2014. That’s almost 40 years of working on a top-rated show. The only people who can top that kind of achievement are soap-opera actors.
Don Pardo had a better career than any soap-opera actor. He was brought in to be a generic announcer voice when Saturday Night Live hit the airwaves, and was meant to be an ironic wink to the old television establishment. Pardo became something bigger, however, when he proved willing to play things straight when necessary, and also able to add sardonic notes when he was recruited as part of other comedy sketches. In the process, Pardo (who was 57 years old when he took the job) outlived a lot of SNL cast members and hosts.
One of those was Michael O’Donoghue–who appeared in SNL’s opening sketch in 1975 with John Belushi and Chevy Chase, making Pardo the fourth voice to ever be heard on Saturday Night Live. O’Donoghue was a writer and occasional performer on the show, and once tried to talk Lorne Michaels into firing Pardo (for real) during a live show. Michael O’Donoghue died in 1994.
Don Pardo, however, will live on, since we’re pretty sure that he’ll be replaced by veteran SNL star Darrell Hammond doing a Don Pardo impersonation. Hammond has done that a few times over the years when Pardo wasn’t available. Hammond would never not have the job, of course. Pardo was a real SNL institution (as fans were reminded when he celebrated his 90th birthday on the show). Pardo will certainly be irreplaceable–but at least he was archivable, as with this video where Pardo discusses getting the gig of his life…