His management company Brillstein Entertainment announced Macdonald's passing to Deadline. Lori Jo Hoekstra was Macdonald's longtime producer partner and close friend. She was there when he died. Macdonald had been fighting cancer for almost a decade and was determined to keep his struggles private from his family, friends, and fans.
Hoekstra stated that he was most proud of his humor. He never wanted his diagnosis to change the way he saw himself or anyone he loved. Norm was a comic. He once said that a joke should surprise someone and should never be repeated. Norm will be greatly missed.
Macdonald was to appear in the New York Comedy Festival lineup for November.
From 1993 to 1998, he was a SNL castmember. His greatest impact was as the anchor for the "Weekend Updates" segments over three seasons. He is remembered for his humor and refusal to take O.J. lightly. Despite being pressured by NBC executives, Simpson would remain a "Update" anchor. Macdonald would be one of the most influential, shifting away from the slapstick approach taken by Chevy Chase to embrace the more serious political approach of his successor, Colin Quinn.
Macdonald was born in Quebec City on October 17, 1959. He began his career in show business in Canada's comedy clubs. His trademark deadpan style would be a strong influence for generations of comedians. He was a contestant in Star Search 1990. In 1990, he got his first TV writing job on The Dennis Miller Show,fronted from the man who hosted "Weekend Update" between 1986 and 1991.
Macdonald was first hired to write for Roseanne Barr’s sitcom Roseanne in 1992-93, before landing the coveted job at NBC’s Saturday Night Live.
One of his most memorable SNL impressions was a gum-chomping impressions of Burt Reynolds. It featured a charming smile, bolo tie, and wiseguy attitude. This often came at hilarious odds with Will Ferrell’s Alex Trebek. His Reynolds impression was the best of his career, but there were many others: Macdonald had Andy Rooney and Clint Eastwood, David Letterman (and even Rod Serling), Quentin Tarantino (and Mr. Bean), Larry King, Larry King, Rod Serling, Rod Serling, and Quentin Tarantino.