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Norm Macdonald, comedian, former 'Saturday Night Live' star, dies at 61

Macdonald died Tuesday after a private battle with cancer.
/ Source: TODAY

Norm Macdonald, the former "Saturday Night Live" star whose wry delivery delighted audiences, has died at 61.

Macdonald passed away Tuesday after a nearly decadelong private battle with cancer. The comedian's manager, Marc Gurvitz, confirmed the news, which was first reported by Deadline, in a phone call to NBC News.

Norm Macdonald anchoring the "Weekend Update" desk in April 1997.Mary Ellen Matthews / NBC

The comedian’s longtime producing partner and friend Lori Jo Hoekstra, who was with him at the time of his death, said Macdonald was determined to keep his health struggles private, away from family, friends and fans.

Hoekstra shared a statement about Macdonald's passing.

"He was most proud of his comedy. He never wanted the diagnosis to affect the way the audience or any of his loved ones saw him," the statement read. "Norm was a pure comic. He once wrote that ‘a joke should catch someone by surprise, it should never pander.’ He certainly never pandered. Norm will be missed terribly.”

Macdonald, who was born in Quebec City, Canada, was an "SNL" cast member from 1993-98. He's best remembered as the anchor of the show’s "Weekend Update" segments, where he delivered caustic jokes about celebrities and politicians in an understated deadpan style for three seasons.

Away from the "Weekend Update" desk, Macdonald performed in sketches creating memorable impressions of Burt Reynolds and Bob Dole, among other notables figures.

Prior to scoring a spot on "SNL," Macdonald worked as a writer for Roseanne Barr’s sitcom "Roseanne" for the 1992-93 season. He later starred in his own comedy series, "The Norm Show" (also known as "Norm"), from 1999-2001, as well as the Netflix talk show "Norm Macdonald Has a Show" in 2018.

Celebrities reacted to news of Macdonald's death on social media.

Actor and comedian Jim Carrey tweeted, "My dear friend Norm MacDonald passed after a brave 10 year battle. He was one of our most precious gems. An honest and courageous comedy genius. I love him."

"NOOOOO GODDAMIT. Oh my God what is even happening. Good bye, Norm. You were never not 100% hilarious," tweeted comedian Patton Oswalt.

Comedy legend Steve Martin shared Oswalt's tweet while adding a message of his own. "We loved Norm MacDonald. One of a kind," Martin wrote.

"Oh come on! Damnit. Not Norm. Absolutely gutted. One of the most underrated and hilarious SNL performers. RIP #NormMacdonald," tweeted actor Josh Gad.

Former late-night host and "SNL" writer Conan O'Brien honored Macdonald by tweeting, "I am absolutely devastated about Norm Macdonald. Norm had the most unique comedic voice I have ever encountered and he was so relentlessly and uncompromisingly funny. I will never laugh that hard again. I'm so sad for all of us today."

Former Sen. Dole wrote on Twitter, “Norm was a great talent, and I loved laughing with him on SNL. *Bob Dole* will miss Norm Macdonald.”