Comedian Norm Macdonald has died after a private battle with cancer, according to FOX News. He was 61.
Macdonald, the son of two schoolteachers, was raised in Quebec City, Canada. He was a stand-up comic and briefly a writer for the sitcom "Roseanne" when he was picked to join the cast of "Saturday Night Live" in 1993. He became known for his esoteric impressions, including Burt Reynolds, who gave Will Ferrell’s Alex Trebek character grief on "Celebrity Jeopardy." He also impersonated Bob Dole, Larry King and David Letterman.
His deadpan style and skills as a writer made him the choice to host "Weekend Update." O.J. Simpson was a favorite target. Macdonald opened the fake newscast the week of the former football star’s acquittal on murder charges by saying, "Well, it’s finally official. Murder is legal in the state of California.
Macdonald was fired in the middle of the season in 1998 by NBC Entertainment executive Don Ohlmeyer, a friend of Simpson’s who reportedly didn’t appreciate the ’"SNL" star making Simpson the near-constant butt of jokes.
"I was never bitter," Macdonald said in the oral history "Live From New York," released in 2002. "I always understood that Ohlmeyer could fire me, because he was the guy who owned the cameras, so that didn’t bother me. I was always happy that ‘SNL’ gave me a chance."
He never reached the same television heights after being fired from "SNL" in 1998, but was an indefatigable stand-up comic and popular talk show guest whose death provoked an outpouring from fellow comedians.
He had limited success in other TV ventures. He created and starred in the ABC sitcom "The Norm Show," later shortened to "Norm," playing a former NHL player kicked out of the league for gambling and tax evasion and forced into community service as a social worker.
A Comedy Central show, "Sports Show with Norm Macdonald," lasted only a handful of episodes, but he kept busy in comedy clubs.
"In my mind, I’m just a stand-up," he told The New York Times in 2018. "But other people don’t think that. They think, ‘oh, the guy from ‘SNL’ is doing stand-up now."
Netflix also aired 10 episodes of an interview series, "Norm Macdonald Has a Show." Guests included Letterman, Lorne Michaels, Jane Fonda and Judge Judy Sheindlin.
He also became an author after publishing his first book, "Based on a True Story: Not A Memoir."
MacDonald was not without controversies.
In 2018, his comments about the #MeToo movement and fellow comedians Louis C.K. and Roseanne Barr led to the "The Tonight Show" canceling his appearance and spurred apologies from the comedian that could bring their own problems. The former "Saturday Night Live" cast member told The Hollywood Reporter he was "happy the #MeToo movement had slowed down a little bit." Macdonald said people used to receive a second chance, but now "there is no forgiveness."
Macdonald mentioned Louis C.K, who was accused of sexual misconduct, and Barr, who was fired from her show in May.
"There are very few people that have gone through what they have, losing everything in a day. Of course, people will go, "What about the victims?" But you know what? The victims didn’t have to go through that," Macdonald said.
Then in an interview with radio host Howard Stern while explaining and apologizing for his remarks, Macdonald said "You’d have to have Down syndrome not to feel sorry" for the victims of sexual misconduct.
He later tweeted an apology, saying he would never defend the actions of Barr and C.K.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.