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Norm Macdonald, comedian and former 'SNL' star, dies at 61

The veteran comedian had been privately battling cancer for nearly a decade.

WASHINGTON — Comedian Norm Macdonald, who was a beloved cast member on "Saturday Night Live" and starred in countless movies, has died at the age of 61. 

Macdonald's management firm confirmed to the Associated Press that Macdonald had been privately battling cancer for nine years and died Tuesday morning. 

His longtime producing partner, Lori Jo Hoekstra, told DEADLINE that Macdonald wanted to keep his health issues private because "He never wanted the diagnosis to affect the way the audience or any of his loved ones saw him. Norm was a pure comic."

As news of Macdonald's death spread, tributes poured in over social media from fellow comedians and fans. 

Comedian Conan O'Brien said he was "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," O'Brien tweeted.

Comedian Steve Martin said: "We loved Norm MacDonald. One of a kind."

Comedian Jon Stewart declared that "No one could make you break like Norm Macdonald. Hilarious and unique." 

Comedian Patton Oswalt said: "Good bye, Norm. You were never not 100% hilarious."

Actor Josh Gad called him "one of the most underrated and hilarious SNL performers." 

Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2008 file photo, actor and comedian Norm MacDonald is shown at the "Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget" in Burbank, Calif. (AP Photo/Dan Steinberg, file)

"Norm MacDonald was always deceptively smart, always independent, completely original. A great loss," "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" host Peter Sagal tweeted.

Macdonald got his start as a writer on "Roseanne," according to Variety. He went on to be an "SNL" cast member from 1993 to 1998 and anchored the show's Weekend Update segment for three seasons. 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.

After leaving "SNL," he starred in his own TV series, "The Norm Show," which aired on ABC for three seasons.

He had been scheduled to be a part of this year's New York Comedy Festival in November. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.