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Norm Macdonald, Former ‘SNL’ Weekend Update Anchor, Dead at 61

Macdonald had been battling cancer for nearly a decade.

Norm Macdonald seen at KAABOO 2017 at the Del Mar Racetrack and Fairgrounds on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, in San Diego, Calif. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

Norm Macdonald

Amy Harris/Invision/AP

Norm Macdonald, actor, comic, and former “SNL” Weekend Update anchor, has died at the age of 61 after a decade-long battle with cancer. His death was first reported by Deadline. The news was revealed to Deadline by Macdonald’s management team and his producing partner and friend, Lori Jo Hoekstra.

“He was most proud of his comedy,” 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.”

Macdonald was born on October 17, 1959 in Quebec, Canada; his parents were teachers and his father had served with the Canadian Army and helped liberate the Netherlands from the Nazis. He started performing in small clubs in Canada before being hired as a writer on the comedy series, “Roseanne” in the early 1990s. He would quit the show in 1993 to join the team at “Saturday Night Live.”

Macdonald became famous on the show for his bevy of impressions, ranging from Burt Reynolds to Quentin Tarantino. During the series’ 20th season he would become the anchor for the “SNL” news segment, Weekend Update, where his humor often got him in trouble. He was let go from the role in 1998 with many wondering if his comments — particularly about O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson — were to blame. Macdonald would leave the series shortly thereafter.

He would go on to appear in numerous movies, including Milos Forman’s “Man on the Moon” and “The People vs. Larry Flynt.” He also went on to voice Lucky the dog in all three “Dr. Dolittle” films starring Eddie Murphy. Macdonald was also a regular staple on television. He did voice work for Nickelodeon’s “Fairly Oddparents,” guested on “My Name is Earl,” and was a regular on “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.” He was also a judge on the NBC reality competition series “Last Comic Standing” and briefly immortalized the role of Colonel Sanders on a series of commercials for Kentucky Fried Chicken. In 2018 Netflix premiered the series “Norm Macdonald Has a Show.”

Macdonald is survived by his son, Dylan.

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