Norm Macdonald, comedian and 'Saturday Night Live' star, dies at 61 from cancer

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Norm Macdonald, here in 2016, has died from cancer.

Norm Macdonald, here in 2016, has died from cancer. (Photo: Reuters)

Norm Macdonald, one of Saturday Night Live's most beloved alumni, died on Monday after a nearly decade-long battle with cancer. He was 61.

Macdonald's death was announced to Deadline by his management firm, with the comedian's longtime friend and producing partner, Lori Jo Hoekstra, explaining he wanted to keep his health struggles private. He was scheduled to perform in the New York Comedy Festival lineup in November.

"He was most proud of his comedy," Hoekstra, who was by the actor's side when he passed, shared. "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."

(Macdonald's manager referred to the statement on Deadline when reached by Yahoo Entertainment.)

Macdonald was an SNL cast member from 1993-98, best known for his wit and sharp tongue anchoring Weekend Update. That sharp tongue reportedly led to his firing as he took no mercy on O.J. Simpson during his high-profile murder trial. (NBC exec Don Ohlmeyer was a longtime friend of the former football star.) Macdonald had no problem transitioning to film, stealing scenes in movies like Billy Madison, and television. He starred on Norm from 1999-2001, the popular show The Middle (2010-2018) and lent his voice to The Orville (2017-2019). He also hosted Norm Macdonald Live, the podcast and streaming show in recent years.

Seth Rogen was among the many stars who paid tribute to Macdonald on Monday afternoon, revealing the SNL legend was a huge inspiration: "Oh f***. 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 the all time greats. RIP."

Jon Stewart tweeted, "No one could make you break like Norm Macdonald. Hilarious and unique. F*** cancer."

Sarah Silverman, Jim Carrey, Steve Martin and more mourned the loss of the "one of a kind" comedian.

My dear friend Norm MacDonald passed after a brave 10 year battle. He was one of our most precious gems. An honest and courageous comedy genius. I love him.

— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) September 14, 2021

RIP Norm MacDonald. I saw him perform live when I was in college. It was one of the most memorable performances I've ever seen. A complete mastery of standup comedy performance and an unparalleled passion for the art of writing jokes. Never met him. Love to his friends & family. https://t.co/gpWlNy2hwN

— Mike Birbiglia (@birbigs) September 14, 2021

Norm was in a comedy genre of his own. No one like him on this planet. Please do yourself a favor and watch his stuff. He was one of a kind of all time

— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) September 14, 2021

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