Norm Macdonald, the acerbic and at times controversial comedian known to millions of people as the “Weekend Update” host on “Saturday Night Live” from 1994 to 1998, died Tuesday in Los Angeles. He was 61 years old.
His manager, Marc Gurvitz, confirmed the death. Lori Jo Hoekstra, his longtime production partner, told Hollywood media outlet Deadline that the cause was cancer, an issue he had faced for some time but had largely kept private.
Mr. Macdonald perfected his tongue-in-cheek style on the stand-up circuit, first in his native Canada and then in the United States. In 1990 he was doing his routine on “Late Night With David Letterman” and other shows, then in 1993 came his big hiatus: an interview with Lorne Michaels, a fellow Canadian, for a job on “Saturday Night Live”.
“I knew that even though we were from the same nation, we were on different worlds,” Mr. Macdonald wrote in “Based on a True Story: Not a Memoir” (2016). “He was a cosmopolitan from Toronto, socialite, the kind of guy who would be comfortable with the Queen of England herself. I was a chick, born on the barren, rocky ground of the Ottawa Valley, where the richest man in town was the barber.
He got the job and, the following year, he held the anchor position for the “weekend update” segment. (In the skits, he imitated Burt Reynolds and Bob Dole and played other characters.) But in early 1998, he was kicked out of that same anchor chair, apparently at the behest of Don Ohlmeyer, president of NBC Entertainment, West Coast, who were reportedly annoyed by Mr. Macdonald’s incessant teasing of his friend OJ Simpson.
A full obituary will be published shortly.