Norm Macdonald: Comedian and Former ‘Saturday Night Live’ Anchorman, Dies at 61

Norm Macdonald, Comedian and Former ‘Saturday Night Live’ Anchorman, Dies at 61

He also had his own ABC sitcom and appeared in films like ‘Dirty Work’ and ‘Funny People.’

Norm Macdonald, the caustic comedian who made a name for himself as the host of “Weekend Update” on Saturday Night Live, as the star of his own sitcoms and from appearances in such films as Dirty Work and Funny People, died Tuesday. He was 61.

Macdonald died after a nine-year, private battle with cancer, his rep confirmed.

The stand-up comic and Quebec City native began in Hollywood as a writer on The Dennis Miller Show and Roseanne in 1992 before joining SNL a year later. He anchored “Weekend Update” segments for three seasons and was a cast member through 1998.

He was fired from the anchor gig in 1997 during the show’s Christmas hiatus by NBC executive Don Ohlmeyer; Macdonald claimed the reason was for making jokes about Ohlmeyer friend O.J. Simpson in the wake of the murders of Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole and her friend Ronald Goldman. (Colin Quinn took over on the “Weekend Update” desk.)

Macdonald created and starred as a former hockey player with a gambling problem who becomes a social worker on the ABC sitcom Norm, which ran for three seasons, from 1999-2001. He also starred as a newspaper columnist turned television commentator on the 2003-04 Fox comedy A Minute With Stan Hooper, which lasted just 13 episodes.

He wrote and starred alongside Artie Lange and Chris Farley in Dirty Work (1998), directed by Bob Saget. He also appeared as himself in Judd Apatow’s Funny People and showed up on the big screen in the Milos Forman films The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996) and Man on the Moon (1999).

More recently, Macdonald recurred as the lazy Rusty Heck on ABC’s The Middle; did voice work on Skylanders AcademyThe Orville and Mike Tyson Mysteries; popped up as judge on NBC’s Last Comic Standing; played one of the many Colonel Sanders in a series of KFC ads; and was the host of the 2018 Netflix talk program Norm Macdonald Has a Show.

Norman Gene Macdonald was born on Oct. 17, 1959 in Québec City. In 1992, after doing stand-up in clubs all around Canada for almost a decade — including a four-month stint opening for Sam Kinison in 1984 — he moved to Los Angeles.

He wrote for Miller’s syndicated late-night talk show, then was hired by Roseanne Barr to write for ABC’s Roseanne after she saw him doing stand-up.

According to his rep, Macdonald had a Netflix special he was planning to shoot in March at the Ace Theater in Los Angeles and a Netflix movie in development adapted from his 2016 book, Based on a True Story: A Memoir.

Survivors include his mother, Ferne; son Dylan; and brothers Neil and Leslie.