Norm Macdonald, Former ‘SNL’ Star, Has Died From Cancer at Age 61: Reports

  • Comedian Norm Macdonald, aged 61, died on Tuesday, Brillstein Entertainment told Deadline.
  • He reportedly had cancer for nine years and kept his diagnosis out of the public eye. 
  • Macdonald is best known for his stint as an “SNL” cast member and “Weekend Update” host in the ’90s.

Comedian and former “Saturday Night Live” star Norm Macdonald died on Tuesday morning, aged 61, his management firm Brillstein Entertainment told Deadline.

His longtime producing partner, Lori Jo Hoekstra, said that Macdonald had cancer for nine years and kept his diagnosis private from his friends, family, and fans. 

“He was most proud of his comedy,” Hoekstra said. “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.”

norm macdonald

Norm Macdonald is best known for his time as a cast member on “SNL.”

Paula Lobo/Getty Images

The comic — born October 17, 1959, in Quebec City, Canada — did stand-up rounds in his native country before moving to Los Angeles, where he learned that Dennis Miller liked one of his jokes. Macdonald went on to write for several episodes of Miller’s talk show before Roseanne Barr hired him as a writer for “Roseanne” on the sitcom’s 1992-to-1993 season. 

The following year, he became a “Saturday Night Live” cast member, the gig for which he remains best known. Macdonald hosted the show’s “Weekend Update” segment from 1994 to 1998, the year he left the NBC show.

His departure proved controversial, as many speculated that Don Ohlmeyer, an NBC executive and friend to O.J. Simpson, fired Macdonald for telling “Update” jokes that painted the athlete as a murderer after he was acquitted.

Ohlmeyer, however, denied that Macdonald’s remarks about Simpson impacted his exit, blaming declining ratings and a “drop-off in quality” instead, according to The New York Times

After leaving “SNL,” Macdonald went on to play himself in 1998’s “Dirty Work” and starred in a comedy series called “Norm,” which aired on ABC from 1999 to 2001. He also returned to Studio 8H to host “SNL” in 1999.

More recently, Macdonald launched a podcast called “Norm Macdonald Live” in 2013 and hosted a one-season talk show on

titled “Norm Macdonald Has a Show” in 2018. The comic was also slotted to appear in the New York Comedy Festival lineup this November. 

Macdonald was previously married to Connie Vaillancourt before they reportedly divorced in 1999. He is survived by their son, Dylan Macdonald. 


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