Norm Macdonald, Comedian and 'SNL' Alum, Dies at 61 After Long, Private Battle With Cancer

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The stand-up comedian and former "Weekend Update" anchor passed away on Tuesday after a nine-year battle with cancer.
Norm Macdonald has died after a long and private battle with cancer, his management team confirmed on Tuesday. The highly influential stand-up comedian and former anchor of "Weekend Update" on Saturday Night Live was 61.

Macdonald, who was scheduled to perform at the New York Comedy Festival this November, had reportedly been sick with an undisclosed form of cancer for nine years but declined to make his illness public.

"He was most proud of his comedy," Macdonald's producing partner and friend Lori Jo Hoekstra said in a statement. "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."

Born in Quebec City, Canada, in 1959, Macdonald spent several years as a working stand-up comic before joining the cast of SNL in 1993, where his indelible impressions included Larry King, David Letterman, Bob Dole, and Burt Reynolds. After just one season in the cast, he replaced Kevin Nealon as "Weekend Update" anchor. He was named the all-time best comedian to sit in that chair by Entertainment Weekly in 2017.

Tributes from shocked comedian friends immediately began pouring in on Tuesday afternoon.

"In every important way, in the world of stand-up, Norm was the best," David Letterman, who featured a tear-jerker send-off from Macdonald during his final week as host of The Late Show, said in a statement to The Daily Beast. "An opinion shared by me and all peers. Always up to something, never certain, until his matter-of-fact delivery leveled you. I was always delighted by his bizarre mind and earnest gaze. (I'm trying to avoid using the phrase, 'twinkle in his eyes.') He was a lifetime Cy Young winner in comedy. Gone, but impossible to forget."

"My dear friend Norm MacDonald passed after a brave 10 year battle," Jim Carrey wrote. "He was one of our most precious gems.…
Matt Wilstein
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