Longtime 'Saturday Night Live' announcer Don Pardo dies at 96

Longtime NBC announcer Don Pardo, best known as the often-heard, rarely-seen constant during 38 seasons of change at "Saturday Night Live," died late Monday. He was 96.

Pardo's daughter, Donna, told the Associated Press her father passed away at his home in Tucson, Arizona. He had moved to Arizona in 2006. "Saturday Night Live" creator and executive producer Lorne Michaels asked him to continue with the show, so many weeks he recorded his introductions from his Tucson home, she said.

Few recognized the face of Pardo, a handsome man with a strong chin and confident smile. But his majestic delivery, with its swoops in pitch and pregnant pauses, graced newcasts, game shows and television programs for more than 60 years. During shows such as the original version of "Jeopardy!," his answers to the question, "Tell `em what they've won, Don Pardo," became a memorable part of the program.

And he was an integral part of "Saturday Night Live" for more than three decades in his role heralding the cast's names to kick off each show, which led former cast member Jimmy Fallon to comment later, "Nothing is like the moment when Don Pardo says your name."

During his career, Pardo's resonant voice-over style was widely imitated and became the standard in the field. His was no ordinary voice and he guarded it closely, with cough drops always at the ready.

"My voice is my Achilles' heel," Pardo said in a 1985 interview with The Associated Press. "When I get sick, it's always my voice."

Dominick George Pardo was born in Westfield, Massachusetts, on Feb. 22, 1918, and grew up in Norwich, Connecticut.

One of his first jobs was that of ticket-taker at a local movie theater; even then, his voice was commanding.

"I'd go out there with a cape and say: `Standing room only in the mezzanine. Immediate seating in the balcony."'

His father, Dominick, owned a small bakery and had wanted his son to join the business. But Pardo followed his own dream and, after graduating from Boston's Emerson College in 1942, began his vocal career at radio station WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island.

Two years later, he met a supervisor at NBC who hired the young Pardo immediately upon hearing his voice. He moved to NBC's New York affiliate, and never left the network.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.