Thursday, August 21, 2014

He'll be working at the Pearly Gates, calling names of new arrivals

Most people, when they think of the late Don Pardo, who passed away this week at the age of 96, think of his intro to "Saturday Night Live," in which he would introduce the comedians, guest host (love that oxymoron!) and musical guest like this.  Don worked as a staff announcer for NBC from 1944 until forever caught up with him, but to me, the best Pardo was the game show Pardo.

I always felt there was no higher calling for mankind than to be the host of a game show.  Bob Barker!  Bill Cullen!  Jack Narz! Richard Dawson!  Peter Marshall! Jim Lange!  Tom Kennedy! Allen Ludden! Bob Eubanks! Chuck Barris! Gene Rayburn! Don Francisco from Sabado Gigante!

Not to mention Pat Sajak, so I won't.

Being the quizmaster was the ultimate honor, but I was also a big fan of what I called the "Be Glad To" guy.  Those guys were guys like Don Pardo, Jay Stewart, Johnny Jacobs, Rod Roddy, Johnny Gilbert, George Fenneman and Art James...the guys who came on in booming baritones (all baritones are "booming," just as all left-handed pitchers are "crafty") when someone from Dubuque solved the puzzle or spun the wheel or got the price right.  The glib host (always "glib") would say, "Tell her what's she won, Don!" and the announcer would boom..."Be glad to, Bob! It's a twenty-volume set of The Encyclopedia Brittanica! A case of Turtle wax! A year's supply of Rice-A-Roni (the San Francisco Treat!) and a new gas range from Tappan!  (Tappan - the leader in kitchen appliances since 1881!")

This was why sick days and snow days were always so great when I was a young 'un.  After the game shows, after a soup-and-sammy lunch, after "Search For Tomorrow," along came Mike Douglas and Merv Griffin and Pete The Pirate.

It says here that our deductive and memory skills were sharpened by watching "Concentration," our ability to make wise consumer decisions by "The Price Is Right," and our ability to discern between Alexander the Great and Alexander the Graham Bell by enjoying "The G.E. College Bowl."

Thanks and farewell, Don.

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