Norm Macdonald Death: How Norm Macdonald Died?


David Mudd

In the wake of a nine-year struggle with cancer, Norm Macdonald, whose laconic delivery of cutting and biting insights made him one of Saturday Night Live’s most famous and beloved cast members, passed away . He was 61 years old.

The news of Macdonald’s death was confirmed by his management company, Brillstein Entertainment, to Deadline. Lori Jo Hoekstra, the comedian’s longtime producing partner and friend who was with him at the time of his death, said Macdonald had been battling cancer for nearly a decade but had been determined to keep his health struggles private, away from family, friends, and fans. “It was a very difficult time for him,” Hoekstra said.

“He was very pleased with his comedic abilities,” Hoekstra said. “He never wanted his illness to have an impact on the way the audience or any of his loved ones perceived him,” says the author. Norm was the epitome of a pure comedy. He once stated that a joke should always take the recipient by surprise and should never pander to them. He certainly never bowed to pressure. “Norm will be sorely missed,” says the family.

Norm Macdonald Death

In November, Macdonald was set to appear as part of the New York Comedy Festival roster.

He was a member of the Saturday Night Live cast from 1993 to 1998, where he made his most significant contribution as the host of the show’s “Weekend Update” segments for three seasons. Macdonald is remembered for his wry sense of humour — as well as his refusal to soften his stance on O.J. Simpson despite reported pressure from NBC executives — and he would go on to become one of the most influential “Update” anchors, helping to shift the show away from the slapstick approach of Chevy Chase and toward the more barbed political approach of his successor, Colin Quinn, in the process.

Macdonald, who was born on October 17, 1959, in Quebec City, began his show business career in the comedy clubs of Canada, where he honed the deadpan delivery that would become both his trademark and a hugely influential touchstone for a generation of comics. The Dennis Miller Show, hosted by the man who hosted “Weekend Update” from 1986 to 1991, was where he obtained his first regular television writing job after competing on the show in 1990.

For the 1992-93 season, Macdonald was hired as a writer for Roseanne Barr’s comedy Roseanne, before obtaining the highly sought-after position as a writer for NBC’s Saturday Night Live.

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One of his most well-known SNL impressions was a gum-chomping version of Burt Reynolds, replete with dazzling smile, bolo tie, and wiseguy attitude, which was frequently at odds with Will Ferrell’s Alex Trebek, which was often funny. When it came to other celebrities, he came close to matching Reynolds’ performance: Macdonald’s cast comprised Andy Rooney, Clint Eastwood, David Letterman, Larry King, Mr. Bean, Quentin Tarantino, and Rod Serling, to name a few.

It was already a contentious situation when Macdonald was fired from the show, and the decision was frequently ascribed to his persistent vilification of Simpson as a murderer, despite the displeasure of Don Ohlmeyer, president of NBC’s West Coast division and a friend of the former football star. The New York Times reported that Macdonald believed his firing was the result of his participation in “experimental stuff, non sequiturs” on “Update,” and that “Ohlmeyer would watch Leno kill every night for 15 minutes,” according to the newspaper. Every joke got a lot of laughs, but then I’d perform 10 minutes a week and sometimes not get any.”

Whatever Ohlmeyer’s motivations, Macdonald was fired, despite the fact that his Simpson coverage was unsurpassed at the time for its hilarious intensity. During the trial, while Leno frequently featured the zany “Dancing Itos,” Macdonald was unyielding in his criticism of the defendants. When he read his main “Update” piece, the Simpson jury was still deliberating: “They must now decide whether to liberate him or have all of their heads cut off.” “Well, it is finally official: Murder is lawful in the state of California,” he declared when the verdict was returned in his favour.

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After departing Saturday Night Live in 1998, Macdonald went on to appear in his own comedy series, Norm, which ran from 1999 to 2001. In the series, he played a goofball former pro hockey player who gets found cheating on his taxes and forced to work as a social worker in New York. Laurie Metcalf was also a part of the cast. 2018 saw the premiere of his one-season Netflix chat show, Norm Macdonald Has a Show, in which he starred. Other television appearances include the title role in A Minute with Stan Hooper, a Fox sitcom that ran for half a season in 2003 and co-starred Penelope Ann Miller and Fred Willard, as well as the Sports Show with Norm Macdonald, which aired on Comedy Central in 2011.

Norm Macdonald Death

He was nominated for a CableACE Award in 1992 as a member of the writing team for the Amnesty International variety show Free to Laugh: A Comedy and Music Special, for which he received a nomination.

As well as Girl Boss, he had recurrent parts on ABC’s The Middle, where he played the clueless Rusty Heck, quirky brother to Neil Flynn’s Mike Heck, from 2010 until his death in 2018. His guest appearances on television include My Name Is Earl, Real Rob, NewsRadio, The Drew Carey Show, and The Larry Sanders Show, among others. He has also provided the voice for animated projects such as Mike Tyson Mysteries, The Orville, Dr. Dolittle, Fairly OddParents, and the videogame Skylanders Academy, to name a few examples.

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