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Norm Macdonald, former 'Saturday Night Live' player and stand-up comic, dies at 61

Photo courtesy of Mary Ellen Matthews / NBCU Photo Bank

The stand-up comedian had been privately battling cancer for nearly a decade.

Posted: Sep 14, 2021 2:08 PM

NBC NEWS - Norm Macdonald, a former "Saturday Night Live" cast member and stand-up comedian who earned a cult following with his deadpan delivery and wry wit, died Tuesday.

He was 61. Marc Gurvitz, Macdonald's manager, confirmed his death to NBC News.

Macdonald had been battling cancer for nearly a decade but felt determined to keep his health struggles private, according to Lori Jo Hoekstra, Macdonald's longtime producing partner and friend.

“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," Hoekstra said in a statement. "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."

Deadline was first to report the news.

Macdonald joined the cast of "SNL" in 1993 and appeared on the NBC sketch series for five seasons.

He performed impersonations of late-night host David Letterman, talk show emcee Larry King, actor Burt Reynolds and Republican politician Bob Dole. But he was best known as the influential anchor of the "Weekend Update" news parody segment, where he regularly skewered "Baywatch" star David Hasselhoff and mocked O.J. Simpson in a signature droll style.

He left "SNL" in 1998 and went on to star that year in the comedy movie "Dirty Work." He anchored the short-lived ABC sitcom "The Norm Show" (later shortened to "Norm"), which aired from 1999 to 2001.

In recent years, Macdonald continued to perform stand-up comedy and reached fans with sardonic appearances on late-night talk shows (most famously "Conan" on TBS) and televised celebrity roasts on Comedy Central.

In 2018, Macdonald hosted a 10-episode interview show on Netflix ("Norm Macdonald Has a Show") where his guests included David Spade, Jane Fonda and "SNL" creator Lorne Michaels.

This is a breaking story. Please refresh for updates.

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