Saturday Night Live’s Norm MacDonald Dies at 61 | He Was Silently Fighting Cancer for a Decade

Saturday Night Live’s Norm MacDonald Dies at 61 | He Was Silently Fighting Cancer for a Decade

The actor battled cancer for nearly 10 years, but didn't let his fans know.

Norm Macdonald, one of Saturday Night Live‘s most influential and beloved cast members, died on September 14, 2021, after battling cancer privately for nine years. He was 61 at the time of his death, reports Deadline. “Norm was an original! He defined American humor with honesty and blunt force,” Jeff Danis, president of DPN Talent and one of Macdonald’s reps, told Variety in a statement.

The comedian was also slated to appear at the New York Comedy Festival in November.

Macdonald's longtime producing partner and friend Lori Jo Hoekstra was beside him when he died. He revealed that the comedian was fighting cancer for about a decade, but he didn't publicize his struggles since he didn't want to let his fans know. 


“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.”
Born on October 17, 1959, in Quebec City, Macdonald started his career in the comedy clubs of Canada, where he went on to create a style most unique to him. He started his showbiz career as a writer on Roseanne in 1992. Macdonald was also known for his roles in comedy films such as Dirty Work, Billy Madison, and Dr. Doolittle, reports BBC News.


He then joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1993, and the next year, he began his memorable stint as the Weekend Update anchor until early 1998, when he was replaced by Colin Quinn. Macdonald was known for his near-perfect impressions of Burt Reynolds, David Letterman, Larry King, Quentin Tarantino, and many more during his five-year run on the show. 

After his exit from SNL, he starred in his own comedy series, Norm, from 1999-2001, where he played the role of a goofball former pro hockey player who gets caught cheating on his taxes, thus leading him to be sentenced to serve as a New York City social worker. He also did a one-season talker for Netflix, Norm Macdonald Has a Show, in 2018.


According to The Washington Post Macdonald reflected on fame in his 2016 memoir, Based on a True Story. In his The Final Chapter, he wrote that he believed “a lot of people feel sorry for you if you were on SNL and emerged from the show anything less than a superstar.”

“They assume you must be bitter,” he continued. “But it is impossible for me to be bitter. I’ve been lucky. If I had to sum up my whole life, I guess those are the words I would choose, all right.”



Rest in peace Norm Macdonald, we hope you're no longer in pain!






Cover Image Source: GettyImages | Photo by Ethan Miller

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