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Comedian Norm Macdonald Has Died At 61

Norm Macdonald speaks during a panel discussion of reality television talent show "Last Comic Standing" in 2015.
Kevork Djansezian
Getty Images
Norm Macdonald speaks during a panel discussion of reality television talent show "Last Comic Standing" in 2015.

Comedian Norm Macdonald, a beloved Saturday Night Live cast member in the 1990s, has died. His management company confirmed that the 61-year-old had battled cancer for nine years.

"He was most proud of his comedy," his producing partner and friend Lori Jo Hoekstra told Deadline. "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."

SNL fans may remember Macdonald as an anchor on the show's "Weekend Update" segments. He was known for his impressions, particularly that of Burt Reynolds. In his signature droll manner, he lampooned former superstar Michael Jackson and former football star and actor O.J. Simpson throughout his murder trial. Macdonald later said he was pressured by network executives to stop blasting Simpson as a murderer, and he attributed getting fired from the show for his refusal to stop.

After SNL, Macdonald had his own comedy series, The Norm Show, where he played an NHL player who had to perform community service after being busted for gambling and tax evasion. He also had his own talk show, Norm Macdonald Has a Show, on Netflix.

Macdonald was born in Quebec City in 1959, and started his career doing standup in Canadian comedy clubs, where he developed his deadpan style. After competing on Star Search in 1990, he was hired to write for The Dennis Miller Show, then the sitcom Roseanne. Macdonald made appearances on late night shows with David Letterman and Conan O'Brian and had a recurring role on the show The Middle. He also appeared in films such as The People vs. Larry Flynt, and he was the voice of Lucky the Dog in the Eddie Murphy comedy Dr. Dolittle.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.