Canadian actor and longtime stand-up comedian Norm Macdonald has died after a nine-year private battle with cancer, his management team confirmed Tuesday.
He was 61 years old.
“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. Norm was a pure comic,” Macdonald’s longtime producing partner, Lori Jo Hoekstra, said in a statement.
“He once wrote that ‘a joke should catch someone by surprise, it should never pander.’ He certainly never pandered. Norm will be missed terribly.”
Born and raised in Quebec City, Macdonald is often most recognized and remembered for his time spent as a regular cast member of Saturday Night Live (SNL), including anchoring the popularized Weekend Update segment for three seasons.
Various tributes were made following news of Macdonald’s death. Ontario Premier Doug Ford wrote, “Very sad to hear of the passing of Canadian comedy legend Norm Macdonald. His work brought joy to millions around the world. He will be missed.”
Fellow comedian, host and friend Conan O’Brien issued a statement saying, “I am absolutely devastated about Norm Macdonald. Norm had the most unique comedic voice I have ever encountered and he was so relentlessly and uncompromisingly funny. I will never laugh that hard again. I’m so sad for all of us today.”
I am absolutely devastated about Norm Macdonald. Norm had the most unique comedic voice I have ever encountered and he was so relentlessly and uncompromisingly funny. I will never laugh that hard again. I’m so sad for all of us today.
— Conan O’Brien (@ConanOBrien) September 14, 2021
A bevy of other well-known actors and comedians have since paid tribute to Macdonald, including fellow Canadians Jim Carrey and Seth Rogen.
“My dear friend Norm MacDonald passed after a brave 10-year battle,” Carrey tweeted. “He was one of our most precious gems. An honest and courageous comedy genius. I love him.”
Rogen took to Twitter, saying, “I was a huge fan of Norm Macdonald and I essentially ripped off his delivery when I first started acting. I would stay up specifically to watch him on talk shows. He was the funniest guest of all time. We lost a comedy giant today. One of the all-time greats. RIP.”
Former co-star and comedian Adam Sandler tweeted, “Every one of us loved Norm. Some of the hardest laughs of my life with this man. Most fearless funny original guy we knew. An incredible dad. A great friend. A legend. Love u pal.”
Every one of us loved Norm. Some of the hardest laughs of my life with this man. Most fearless funny original guy we knew. An incredible dad. A great friend. A legend. Love u pal. pic.twitter.com/2Pftw28uPc
— Adam Sandler (@AdamSandler) September 14, 2021
His wry, deadpan delivery in the anchor chair of Weekend Update divided the variety show’s audience in the mid-1990s.
Macdonald went on to amass a devoted following among comedy fans for his ribald rejection of easy punchlines. The Canadian was known for multiple celebrity impressions during his time on SNL, including Larry King, Burt Reynolds, and David Letterman, among others.
After leaving SNL, he starred alongside Adam Sandler in the 1995 hit Billy Madison and in the 1998 film Dirty Work. Later that year, Macdonald voiced the character of Lucky the Dog in the Eddie Murphy adaptation of Dr. Dolittle.
He reprised the role in both Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001) and Dr. Dolittle 3 (2006). He then starred in his own sitcom, The Norm Show, from 1999 to 2001.
Macdonald has one son, Dylan, born in 1993.