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July 19, 2012 7:16 PM
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'Saturday Night Live' Writer Tom Davis, Al Franken's Comedy Partner, Passes Away at Age 59

Al Franken and Tom Davis Grove Press
Emmy Award-winning writer and comedian Tom Davis passed away today from throat and neck cancer in his home in Hudson, NY.

One of the original writers for "Saturday Night Live" when it premiered in 1975, Davis formed the comedy team "Franken & Davis" with Al Franken when the two were still in high school in Minneapolis. When the pair were first hired at SNL, Lorne Michaels negotiated for them to split a single writer's salary of $350 per week. In addition to their years of writing and creating famous characters on the comedy institution, they also sometimes performed together on air in sketches like "The Brain Tumor Comedian." Off air, they cowrote the 1986 film "One More Saturday Night."

From the New York Times:

He and Mr. Franken were so close that Mr. Franken named his daughter Thomasin Davis. But the two broke up as a team in 1990 as Mr. Franken tired of his friend’s drug abuse. They reconciled a decade later, and Mr. Davis obliged his friend by publishing his all-too-candid autobiography only after Senator Franken was elected. In his book, Mr. Davis wrote, “I love Al as I do my brother, whom I also don’t see very much.”

Reviewing that memoir, "Thirty-Nine Years of Short-Term Memory Loss," at Salon, Stephanie Zacharek noted Davis' recollection of hearing the clue "He was the comedy partner of Al Franken" on "Jeopardy" in 2004: "'Everyone was stumped,' Davis writes, with unself-pitying amusement, including Ken Jennings, the greatest ‘Jeopardy!’ champ ever.'"

Writing about his own struggles with cancer and the death he knew was approaching, Davis still displayed his distinctive sense of humor:

Several close friends have asked if I was aware of alternative medicines, therapies, protocols, doctors, clinics, and books. One offered personal testimony. His colon cancer was supposed to have killed him several years ago. He attributes his survival to an exclusive diet of blueberry smoothies. My fear is not death; my fear is spending my last years slurping blueberry, whey and soy powder shakes in a rock star hospital in Houston, surrounded by strangers. No.

Here's Davis on SiriusXM talking about the early SNL days:

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