Legendary comedian Norm Macdonald, known to generations of “Saturday Night Live” fans for his impish “Weekend Update” performances and his Bob Dole impersonation, has died at age 61.
Macdonald had privately battled cancer for the past 9 years, Deadline reports. But he did not share his fight with friends or fans.
“He was most proud of his comedy,” Macdonald’s producing partner and friend Lori Jo Hoekstra told Deadline. “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 Spent Five Seasons on ‘SNL’
Macdonald joined “SNL” in 1993 and went on to become “Weekend Update” anchor in 1994. He would remain in that role for three years.
Over the course of his five seasons on “SNL,” Macdonald also tickled audiences with impressions ranging from politician Bob Dole to director Clint Eastwood to actor Burt Reynolds to rocker Tommy Lee.
According to Deadline, Macdonald often blamed his 1998 departure from “SNL” on Don Ohlmeyer, then president of NBC’s West Coast division, who was a personal friend of O.J. Simpson, and who did not like Macdonald’s frequent jabs at Simpson as a murderer.
After “SNL,” Macdonald went on to his own comedy series, “The Norm Show.” He would ultimately release three stand-up comedy albums, and he also made many appearances on late-night talk shows over the years.
Watch a highlight reel of Macdonald anchoring “Weekend Update” here:
Macdonald Honed His Bob Dole Impression
During the 1990s, as then-Sen. Bob Dole challenged then-President Bill Clinton for the presidency, Macdonald rose to fame for his impression of Dole as an out-of-touch but ever-ambitious politico who spoke in a monotone.
McDonald would eventually meet Dole, appearing alongside him in an episode of “SNL.”
Watch Macdonald impersonate Bob Dole here: