76i: Jodie Foster / Brian Wilson
Don Pardo: the First Fifty Years
Danny Cadenza Fitzjacobs ... Dan Aykroyd
Mr. Pardo ... John Belushi
Mrs. Pardo ... Jane Curtin
Nurse ...Anne Beatts
Schoolchildren ... Alan Zweibel, Marilyn Miller, Tom Schiller, etc.
Miss Longabaugh ... Laraine Newman
Conductor ... Garrett Morris
Don's Wife ... Gilda Radner
Personnel Director ... John Belushi
Male Voice ... John Belushi
Stella Dallas ... Laraine Newman
Jane ... Jane Curtin
John ... John Belushi
Janet ... Gilda Radner
... Lorne Michaels
... Laraine Newman
...and starring Don Pardo as Himself!!!
[Graphic of an old-fashioned NBC radio microphone with lightning bolts shooting out from it.]
Danny V/O: And now! As part of NBC's Fiftieth Anniversary, a salute to the greatest voice-over announcer in the history of show business!
[Superimposed text reads: Don Pardo: the First 50 Years] Don Pardo: the First Fifty Years!
[The text disappears and a tuxedo-clad Danny steps in front of the graphic to address the camera]
Danny Cadenza Fitzjacobs: Hello there! My name is Danny Cadenza Fitzjacobs. The term "voice-over" is used in television whenever announcements or narration are required in a scene. It's a grueling and, until now, thankless art which demands precision, patience and guts. Don Pardo's background helped to combine these qualities. His father was an auctioneer and his mother was an opera singer. You might say he was a born announcer. Don took his first cue at Westfield Hospital where he was born at eleven-thirty A.M., ten-thirty Central time.
[Dissolve to a black-and-white photo of an old building. We slowly zoom in on the building as a superimposed text reads: FEBRUARY 26, 1926 Westfield, Mass. Dissolve to a hospital room where Don Pardo's mother, Mrs. Pardo lies in bed. Mr. Pardo stands at her bedside holding her hand.]
Mr. Pardo: How are ya, honey?
Mrs. Pardo: I'm tired but I'm happy.
Mr. Pardo: When can we see the baby?
Nurse: [enters carrying baby Don who is so wrapped in blankets that he's not visible] Right now, Mr. Pardo.
Mrs. Pardo: Oh, isn't he cute?
Mr. Pardo: I guess we'll have to start sending out the birth announcements.
Mrs. Pardo: [nods] I guess so.
Don Pardo V/O: No, you won't, Dad!!! I'll do it myself!!! [the nurse and the Pardos are stunned to hear Don's voice booming from the blankets in the nurse's arms] It's a boy!!! Yes, six and one half
pounds of your own son!!! Another miracle from Mother Nature!!!
[The nurse looks confused but the Pardos are thrilled.]
Mr. Pardo: Just listen to that! Someday he's gonna be President of the United States!
Danny Cadenza Fitzjacobs V/O: And so, a voice was born. In school, young Pardo's teachers were quick to recognize his special talent.
[Dissolve to a black-and-white photo of a schoolhouse. As we slowly zoom in on the building we dissolve to a classroom full of rowdy schoolchildren wearing 1930s clothes, throwing paper airplanes and spitballs while yelling things like "Come on!" "Watch out!" etc. The
teacher, Miss Longabaugh, enters and things quickly quiet down.]
Miss Longabaugh: Children! Children! Now, what's going on in here? I could hear you all the way down the hall. Don Pardo, tell me what was going on.
Don Pardo V/O: Well, Miss Longabaugh, Susan Anderson was talking with her neighbor! And then Stevie O'Connor threw Gloria's shoe in the wastebasket! Another naughty act by Stevie!
Miss Longabaugh: Thank you, Don Pardo. You know, you've got a great future. That voice could run railroads.
[Train music. Dissolve to a black-and-white photo of a locomotive.]
Danny Cadenza Fitzjacobs V/O: Don went on to marry his childhood sweetheart and, like all young couples at the time, they went up to Niagara Falls for their honeymoon.
[Dissolve to the curtained berths inside the sleeper car of a passenger train. The rocking motion of the moving train causes the curtains to sway. An elderly Negro conductor, carrying hand-held chimes, enters and
addresses an upper berth.]
Conductor: Uh, is everything fine, Mr. and Mrs. Pardo?
Don Pardo V/O: [unseen, from behind the curtains] Yes, thank you.
Conductor: All right. [Conductor rings his chimes: the NBC tones! He starts to move off but pauses when he hears the honeymoon couple talking behind the curtains and eavesdrops on their conversation:]
Don's Wife V/O: Honey?
Don Pardo V/O: Yes, Kath?
Don's Wife V/O: Do it again. Once more. Give it to me.
Don Pardo V/O: [grumbles, reluctantly] Oh, okay. [in a suddenly booming voice] We'll be staying at the fabulous Bryant House hotel!!! Thirty-five spacious rooms with a spectacular view of the falls!!!
Complimentary Continental breakfast and a free tour of the falls in the Maid of the Mist!!!
[Conductor listens with mild surprise, shakes his head and walks off. Dissolve back to Danny.]
Danny Cadenza Fitzjacobs: After the honeymoon, Don tried many jobs: short order cook, door-to-door salesman. He even tried bun running at chic restaurants. But nothing seemed right for him. Finally, he got his courage up and he went to apply for the job he was burning to do -- radio announcing.
[Dissolve to a black-and-white photo of a marquee with NBC STUDIOS in neon letters. A superimposed text reads: 1932. Of course, Don actually began work at NBC in 1944. Dissolve to a personnel office where the greasy, cigar-smoking Personnel Director sits behind a desk, talking on an old-fashioned pedestal phone.]
Personnel Director: [into the phone] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, that's what they say about-- [knock at the door] Ah, I'll call ya later. [hangs up phone, calls out] Come in. [sound of a door opening] Ah, Mr. Pardo. Sit down. [indicates an empty chair in front of the desk, next to an ashtray stand - we hear the door close - after a moment, the empty chair suddenly slides forward as the invisible Don Pardo sits down - the personnel director addresses the empty chair] Okay, Pardo. You know what this job means, don't you? It's demanding. You gotta have pitch, you gotta have timbre, and you gotta have resonance. This ain't for no sissies so don't get any ideas about gettin' your puss slapped all over the covers o' Life and Look, okay? Let's see. [looks at Pardo's resume] Cook, salesman, bun runner. Nothin' here in your resume that would qualify ya. But I got a hunch about you, Pardo. Here ... [puts a piece of paper on the edge of the desk] ... read this.
Don Pardo V/O: [misreads it with his booming voice] We'll be right black!!! I mean, we'll be bright black!!! [uncertainly, to the wincing personnel director] How's that?
Personnel Director: [unimpressed] Great. Okay, okay, thanks. We'll call ya.
Danny Cadenza Fitzjacobs V/O: Well, Don got the job ...
[The chair slides back as the invisible Don Pardo rises and knocks over the ashtray stand. The personnel director gets back on the phone.]
Danny Cadenza Fitzjacobs V/O: ... but only because six other NBC announcers were killed in a train wreck near Chicago. [Dissolve to a black-and-white photo of radio station WEAF. Zoom in slowly on the station and dissolve to photo of the studio control room.] The job was on a radio show called "Stella Dallas" -- a serial heard and enjoyed by millions of Americans during the war. Here's a recording of Don's first show, one we think he'd like to forget.
[Dissolve to a black-and-white photo of a family sitting around a huge vintage radio as we hear what is supposed to be a recording of the old time radio soap opera "Stella Dallas":]
Male Voice: [over eerie music] Stella, don't go into the library!
Stella Dallas' Voice: But I have to see what's happened to father!
[A door creaks open, Stella screams, dramatic music.]
Don Pardo V/O: Tune in next week to "Stella Dallas" when we find out that Stella killed her father!!! Oh, I wasn't supposed to say that? But I thought-- Oh, oh, ohhhhh.
[Dissolve back to Danny who laughs maniacally at this error but then instantly becomes sober and continues his narration:]
Danny Cadenza Fitzjacobs: He was an NBC staff radio announcer for many years, until that miracle called "television" appeared. He worked, first, in a live TV drama: "Elaine Carrington's Follow Your Heart".
[Dissolve to the set of the live TV drama]
Jane: He was a good man... a good man.
John: I'm gonna miss him at the plant.
Janet: How could it have happened? A machine. A piece of steel with no feelings, crushing him. What kind of horror is this? What kind of nightmare? What kind of machine? [she breaks down and cries]
Don Pardo V/O: It was at Atkinson-Hurley metal press, Janet! Two-and-a-half full tongues of steel holding and shaping strength!
[music sting, as we dissolve back to Danny, who laughs maniacally at this then becomes sober and continues his narration:]
Danny Cadenza Fitzjacobs: Don Pardo worked on over one hundred and twelve shows from 1948 to 1960, including "Four Star Revue," "The Colgate Comedy Hour," "The Price Is Right" and, of course, NBC's long-running game show "Jeopardy!" And when television moved to Hollywood, Don refused to
go. He'd been offered the role of an announcer on a new comedy show but, as he said at the time, "Who wants to see a show about a Cuban bandleader and a crazy redhead? I don't. Or maybe I do." As it turned
out, of course, Don was wrong, sort of. There was no work in New York. Don went through the depression that all artists are subject to -- he started frequenting sleazy announcer bars -- until he heard about a new TV show just starting up in New York.
[Dissolve to Home Base at NBC's Saturday Night where a card table has been set up. Superimposed text reads: 1975. Producer Lorne Michaels, wearing one of his trademark reindeer sweaters, sits with Laraine Newman as they audition performers for the show.]
Lorne Michaels: [calls out] Uh, next!
[As Laraine hands Lorne the next performer's resume, we hear footsteps approach a microphone positioned upstage - it's the invisible Don Pardo.]
Lorne Michaels: Name, please?
Don Pardo V/O: Don Pardo.
Lorne Michaels: [turns to Laraine] Don Pardo, is he still alive? [Laraine nods] Well, Mr. Pardo, ah, I see you've been, uh, working for the phone company, doing some recording. Uh, could you do some of it now for us, please?
Don Pardo V/O: Sure. [in his patented announcer's voice] At the tone, the time will be five-thirty-six EXACTLY!!! Five-thirty-six and ten seconds!!! Five-thirty--
Lorne Michaels: Fine, fine, fine, fine. Ah, I guess you know, Don, we're, uh, doing a kind of a young show.
Don Pardo V/O: [sadly] Well, I guess that rules me out.
Lorne Michaels: No, the brass at, uh, NBC is gonna call me crazy but I'm gonna give you a break, old timer. Would you read some of the, uh, names that, uh, that are on that sheet there?
Don Pardo V/O: Mm hmm. [clears throat] HILDA RADAR!!!
Lorne Michaels: Uh... No, no, that's Gilda Radner.
Don Pardo V/O: Oh. [tries again] CHEVROLET CHASE!!!
Lorne Michaels: [Lorne gives Laraine an uneasy look, then turns to Pardo] Uh, why did you say "Chevrolet Chase"?
Don Pardo V/O: [confused] It's a comedy show, isn't it?
Lorne Michaels: Right. Well, thank you! [As we hear Pardo's footsteps retreat, Lorne turns to Laraine] Got a hunch about him.
[Dissolve back to Danny, laughing hard again.]
Danny Cadenza Fitzjacobs: Well, the rest is history. Don Pardo is now enjoying the respect and admiration of a whole new generation of viewers. And tonight, Don Pardo, we salute you! [salutes into the camera]
Don Pardo V/O: Thank you, Dan! I'd like to just say one thing!
Danny Cadenza Fitzjacobs: What's that, Don?
Don Pardo V/O: We'll be right black!!!