Don Pardo -- the man who famously announced "It's Saturday Night Live!" starting from the very first episode of "SNL" in 1975 -- passed away Monday night at the age of 96 ... NBC officials confirm.
Pardo reportedly died in his sleep in Tucson, AZ.
The man with the booming voice was hand-picked for the "SNL" job by creator Lorne Michaels -- and was featured on 38 of the 39 seasons (he missed season 7). He also missed 2 eps in 2013 after suffering a broken hip.
But like the champ he was ... Pardo got back to work after healing up and continued to serve as "SNL" announcer when the show resumed in September 2013. He worked all the way up until the "SNL" season finale back in May.
Pardo had been working with NBC since 1944 ... and provided voice work on everything from baseball games to newscasts and even gameshows -- spending 7 years on "The Price is Right" starting in 1956.
After that gig, Pardo spent 11 seasons on "Jeopardy" ... back when Art Fleming hosted the show.
Long story short ... the guy was a pioneer in almost every facet of television.
Former "SNL" writer John Mulaney tweeted moments ago ... saying, "Goodbye Don Pardo. You worked from World War II until this May. You were cool as hell. I'm very lucky I got to talk to you those few times."
Dane Cook also posted a message about Pardo -- saying, "I always wanted to host SNL and it was a lifelong mission. When I got it and got to NYC I had 1 must. Get a photo with the great Don Pardo. His voice set the tone of the show and hearing him usher in each host with his booming hijinx-y role call was in my dreams but saying my name finally. My dream came true. Thank you sir for spending time chatting and introducing me to America on that special Saturday night."
Legendary 'SNL' Announcer Dies at 96
8/18/2014 9:43 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
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