Norm MacDonald, Comedy Legend and ‘SNL’ Star, Dies at 61

by Jon D. B.

Saturday Night Live and comedic icon Norm MacDonald has died after a “long and private battle with cancer.” The late-night legend was 61.

MacDonald died Tuesday, September 14, 2021 after a nine-year battle with cancer. He kept his struggle private for a decade before his death.

Deadline confirms the passing of Norm MacDonald via his management firm, Brillstein Entertainment.

“He was most proud of his comedy,” says Lori Jo Hoekstra, MacDonald’s longtime friend and producing partner. “He never wanted the diagnosis to affect the way the audience or any of his loved ones saw him.”

In life, “Norm was a pure comic,” Hoekstra adds. “He once wrote that ‘a joke should catch someone by surprise, it should never pander.’ He certainly never pandered. Norm will be missed terribly.”

Hoekstra was by MacDonald’s side at the time of his death Tuesday morning. She also confirms his battle with cancer lasted nearly a decade. Yet her friend was determined to keep his struggles private, she says, as he did not want it to become his legacy.

The Pitch-Perfect Wit of Norm MacDonald Will Be Sorely Missed

From his Burt Reynolds on Celebrity Jeopardy!, to proving one of the most influential Weekend Update hosts of all time, Saturday Night Live would prove the perfect place to showcase MacDonald’s unique, dry wit.

He would stay with the late-night legends from 1993 until 1998 when he was unceremoniously fired. Rumors persist that his “treatment” of O.J. Simpson would lead to his canning. To MacDonald, O.J. deserved – and got – zero slack.

Norm would set a new tone for Weekend Update. Gone were the slapstick antics of Chevy Chase in favor of a satirical look at the world stage. Colin Quinn would also continue in this fashion, crediting Norm MacDonald with the Weekend Update SNL fans know and love today.

After leaving SNL in ’98, the Quebec City native would go on to star in his own comedy: The Norm Show, at the turn of the century.

He would remain a beloved comedy icon in the decades to follow.

Rest in peace, Norm MacDonald.