Having a master impressionist like comedian Darrell Hammond in the house came in handy when legendary “Saturday Night Live” announcer Don Pardo became ill and was unable to read the show’s memorable opening (“Live from New York...!”). And with Pardo’s passing at the age of 96 in August, Hammond is returning to "SNL" to replace him, reportedly using his own voice -- not one of the many characters he has parodied on the show.
During his 14-year run on the legendary NBC late-night show from 1995 to 2009, the longest of any "SNL" performer, Hammond stepped in for Pardo five times. Pardo, a member of the Television Hall of Fame, worked for NBC for 70 years on shows including “The Price Is Right,” “Jeopardy!” and of course "SNL", where he started announcing in 1975, when the show debuted, and continued until his death last month.
According to the New York Times, there was a time in 1996 when Pardo discovered during a dress rehearsal that he was getting laryngitis. Hammond stepped in and read in Pardo's voice, even bantering with that week's host, James Vanderbeek. Pardo said in an interview that his sister-in-law reported back that Hammond had done a great job.
When Hammond, 58, debuts in his new role at the show's 40th-season kickoff Sept. 27, some fans may secretly hope he does the famed opening in the voice of Sean Connery or Bill Clinton, arguably two of his most hilarious impressions, but he definitely won’t be reading in Pardo’s voice. Said Lorne Michaels, "SNL" creator and executive producer: “I think it will be good to have Darrell doing his own separate thing.”