Comedian and “Saturday Night Live” alum Norm Macdonald has been reported dead at 61 after a private nine-year battle with cancer.
Deadline confirmed on Tuesday via Macdonald’s management firm Brillstein Entertainment that he had died.
“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,” Macdonald’s longtime producing partner and friend Lori Jo Hoekstra told the publication. “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’s representatives did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Born in Canada in 1959, the stand-up comedian, writer and actor rose to prominence as a cast member on “Saturday Night Live” in 1993. He was best known for his impressions of Quentin Tarantino, David Letterman, Larry King, Bob Dole and Burt Reynolds, among many others. He was also notably the anchor for the recurring segment “Weekend Update.”
He was later fired by NBC executive Don Ohlmeyer during the show’s Christmas hiatus in 1998, reportedly because Ohlmeyer “was a close friend of O.J. Simpson’s” and “resented a string of jokes” that Macdonald had made on “SNL” about Simpson’s murder trial that apparently continued well after Simpson was acquitted, according to The New York Times.
After “SNL,” Macdonald starred in his own comedy series titled “The Norm Show,” which ran from 1999 to 2001. He also appeared on multiple late night shows, including “Late Night With David Letterman” and “Conan.” Other ventures included starring in the failed show “A Minute With Stan Hooper,” acting as a judge on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” doing numerous voice-over roles (such as the dog Lucky from the “Doctor Dolittle” franchise), taking on the role of Colonel Sanders for KFC and writing a semi-fictionalized memoir called “Based on a True Story.”
No stranger to controversy, Macdonald found himself in hot water when he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2018 that he was pleased to see the Me Too movement had “slowed down a little bit,” arguing that some of his famous friends had seen their careers cut short because of wrongdoing. He specifically defended Louis C.K. and Roseanne Barr, the latter of whom was removed from the reboot of her show, “Roseanne,” after making racist remarks about Valerie Jarrett, a top adviser to former President Barack Obama.
Macdonald later apologized for those remarks and tweeted that both “Roseanne and Louis have both been very good friends of mine for many years” who “made terrible mistakes, and I would never defend their actions.”
“If my words sounded like I was minimizing the pain that their victims feel to this day, I am deeply sorry,” he said at the time.
Macdonald also helmed a 10-episode talk show on Netflix titled “Norm Macdonald Has a Show,” which debuted in September 2018. More recently, in early 2020, he launched a video-first dating app called Loko.