Norm Macdonald, the influential Comedian & Former ‘SNL’ Weekend Update Anchor, died on Wednesday at the age of 61, after a nine-year private battle with cancer. Remembered for his iconic delivery of sharp and insightful observations, he is one of Saturday Night Live’s most influential and beloved cast members.
Macdonald’s death was confirmed by his management firm Brillstein Entertainment. His longtime producing partner and friend Lori Jo Hoekstra was with him when he died. Lori said that Macdonald had been battling cancer for nearly a decade but he wanted to keep his health struggles private, away from family, friends, and fans. Hoekstra said, “He was most proud of his comedy.” She continues, “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 was supposed to be in the New York Comedy Festival lineup in November. He was an SNL cast member from 1993 to 1998. He made his greatest impact as the anchor of the show’s ‘Weekend Update’ segments for three seasons.
Remembered for his comical style, the anchor was born on October 17, 1959, in Quebec City. Macdonald started his career in the comedy clubs of Canada. Later he developed the deadpan style that became both his trademark and a highly influential touchstone for a generation of comics. After being a contestant on Star Search in 1990, he landed his first regular TV writing assignment on The Dennis Miller Show, fronted by the man who anchored Weekend Update from 1986 to 1991.
He had a recurring role on Netflix’s Girl Boss. He also made an appearance on ABC’s The Middle as the rudderless Rusty Heck, oddball brother to Neil Flynn’s Mike Heck. He also earned a CableACE Award nomination as part of the writing team for the 1992 variety special Free to Laugh: A Comedy and Music Special for Amnesty International.
He had appeared in many films which featured fellow SNL veterans including Dirty Work, Grown Ups, Funny People, Screwed, Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo, and the Dr. Dolittle film trilogy. He also released few comedy albums Me Doing Standup (2011) and Hitler’s Dog, Gossip & Trickery (2017). Both albums were taken from TV specials and Ridiculous (1996), a sketch-comedy disc that also featured Will Ferrell, Molly Shannon, and other SNL vets.