Norm Macdonald Dies: Influential Comedian & Former ‘SNL’ Weekend Update Anchor Was 61
Norm Macdonald — a veteran comedian, actor, writer and producer famous for ‘SNL’ and more — has died.
According to his team, Macdonald passed away Tuesday after a multi-year, private battle with cancer that he kept hidden from the public, fighting the disease behind the scenes for nine years.
The Canadian comic was born in Quebec City in 1959 and got his start in Canadian clubs before moving to the US to pursue TV comedy writing.
He worked for the Roseanne programme before joining Saturday Night Live to host news parody skit Weekend Update.
Known for his dry delivery, Macdonald had fans in the US and worldwide.
“He was most proud of his comedy. He never wanted the diagnosis to affect the way the audience or any of his loved ones saw him. Norm was a pure comic,” Lori Jo Hoekstra, Macdonald’s long-time producing partner, said in a statement.
“He once wrote that ‘a joke should catch someone by surprise, it should never pander.’ He certainly never pandered. Norm will be missed terribly.”
He was an SNL cast member from 1993-98, making his greatest impact as the anchor of the show’s “Weekend Update” segments for three seasons. Remembered for his droll style — and for his refusal to go easy on O.J. Simpson despite reported pressure from NBC execs — Macdonald would prove one of the most impactful “Update” anchors, pivoting away from the slapstick approach of Chevy Chase and toward the more barbed political approach of his successor, Colin Quinn.
Macdonald was hired to write for Roseanne Barr’s sitcom Roseanne for the 1992-93 season before landing the coveted gig at NBC’s Saturday Night Live.
Among his most popular SNL bits was a gum-chomping impression of Burt Reynolds, complete with charming smile, bolo tie and wiseguy attitude, often at hilarious odds with Will Ferrell’s Alex Trebek. If his Reynolds was his best, other impressions were nearly on par: Macdonald’s roster included Andy Rooney, Clint Eastwood, David Letterman, Larry King, Quentin Tarantino, Mr. Bean and Rod Serling, among others.
The guy was still hitting stages even in the past year … he was doing standup at the Improv, talking coronavirus — and despite him battling cancer right then and there, he still looked sharp … maintaining the same witty humor he’d always had.
Norm is survived by his son, Dylan. He was just 61.