Norm Macdonald, Influential Comedian and ‘Weekend Update’ Host, Dies at 61

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Norm Macdonald, the deadpan comedian, writer, actor, and Weekend Update anchor on Saturday Night Live, has died at the age of 61. Macdonald reportedly had been battling a cancer diagnosis for the last nine years, which he kept private.

Macdonald began his career in comedy as a stand-up in Canada, before being hired as a writer on Roseanne. In 1993, Macdonald joined the cast of Saturday Night Live, where he became known for his impressions of such people like Bob Dole, David Letterman, and Burt Reynolds. For three seasons, Macdonald would host Weekend Update, before exiting the series in 1998.

After Saturday Night Live, Macdonald co-wrote and starred in 1998’s Dirty Work, which was directed by Bob Saget. A year later, he would star in his own ABC sitcom, The Norm Show, which was later renamed Norm, for three seasons.

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Image via Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

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Macdonald frequently appeared in the films of Adam Sandler, with his first film role occurring in 1995’s Billy Madison, and would later appear in 2009’s Funny People, 2011’s Jack & Jill, and 2015’s The Ridiculous Six. Macdonald also starred in 2000’s Screwed, and in later years, became an accomplished voice actor, most recently appearing in 2019’s Klaus, The Orville, and previously voicing Lucky in the Dr. Dolittle series of films.

In recent years, Macdonald was known for his fantastic appearances on late-night talk shows. Macdonald was a frequent guest on the various late-night shows of Conan O’Brien, was the final stand-up act on the Late Show with David Letterman, and hosted his own Netflix talk show in 2018, entitled Norm Macdonald Has a Show. In 2016, Macdonald also wrote the best-selling book, “Based on a True Story: Not a Memoir.”

In a statement made to Deadline, Macdonald’s friend and producing partner Lori Jo Hoekstra said that Macdonald was “most proud of his comedy.” Hoekstra continued to say:

“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 will truly be missed. Check out Macdonald’s beautiful final appearance on Late Show with David Letterman below.


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