Norm Macdonald, the acerbic, sometimes controversial comedian familiar to millions as the “Weekend Update” anchor on “Saturday Night Live” from 1994 to 1998, died on Tuesday in Los Angeles. He was 61.
His manager, Marc Gurvitz, confirmed the death. Lori Jo Hoekstra, his longtime producing partner, told the Hollywood news outlet Deadline that the cause was cancer, something he had been dealing with for some time but had kept largely private.
Mr. Macdonald had a deadpan style honed on the stand-up circuit, first in his native Canada and then in the United States. By 1990 he was doing his routine on “Late Night With David Letterman” and other shows, and then in 1993 came his big break: an interview with Lorne Michaels, a fellow Canadian, for a job on “Saturday Night Live.”
“I knew that even though we hailed from the same nation, we were worlds apart,” Mr. Macdonald wrote in “Based on a True Story: Not a Memoir,” (2016). “He was a cosmopolite from Toronto, worldly, the kinda guy who’d be comfortable around the Queen of England herself. Me, I was a hick, born to the barren, rocky soil of the Ottawa Valley, where the richest man in town was the barber.”
He got the job, and by the next year he was in the anchor chair for the “Weekend Update” segment. (In sketches, he impersonated Burt Reynolds and Bob Dole and played other characters.) But in early 1998 he was booted from that same anchor chair, reportedly at the behest of Don Ohlmeyer, president of NBC Entertainment, West Coast, who was said to have been annoyed by Mr. Macdonald’s relentless mocking of his friend O.J. Simpson.
A complete obituary will be published soon.