Comedian Norm Macdonald, 61, dead after battle with cancer

Macdonald started his career as a writer on “Roseanne” before he was hired in 1993 at “Saturday Night Live,” where he anchored Weekend Update.
Norm Macdonald hosts the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto in March 2016
Norm Macdonald hosts the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto in March 2016 [ PETER POWER | AP ]
Published Sept. 14, 2021|Updated Sept. 14, 2021

Norm Macdonald, a Saturday Night Live cast member best known as the host of Weekend Update, died Tuesday. He was 61.

Macdonald succumbed to a nine-year cancer battle that he kept private, his management team told Deadline.

“He was most proud of his comedy,” producing partner Lori Jo Hoekstra told the outlet. “He never wanted the diagnosis to affect the way the audience or any of his loved ones saw him. Norm was a pure comic. He once wrote that ‘a joke should catch someone by surprise, it should never pander.’ He certainly never pandered. Norm will be missed terribly.”

Macdonald started his career as a writer on Roseanne before being hired at SNL in 1993, where he stayed for five years.

When Macdonald was taken off the Weekend Update desk in 1998, the network blamed low ratings, but the comedian took it personally, publicly accusing Don Ohlmeyer, the president of NBC West Coast, of firing him over jokes about O.J. Simpson.

“He thinks of himself as a straight shooter, even though he’s a liar and a thug,” Macdonald told the Daily News of Ohlmeyer in 1998.

In the later years of his career, Macdonald starred in his own comedy series, The Norm Show, from 1999 to 2001 and had a recurring role on The Middle as Mike Heck’s brother, Rusty.

He recently voiced Yaphit, a Gelatin Lieutenant, in Seth MacFarlane’s The Orville and was a popular guest on late night shows, particularly The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.

“I was a huge fan of Norm Macdonald and I essentially ripped off his delivery when I first started acting,” Seth Rogen tweeted. “I would stay up specifically to watch him on talk shows. He was the funniest guest of all time. We lost a comedy giant today. One of the all time greats.”

- New York Daily News