Writer helped de­velop clas­sic SNL skits

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT -

HUDSON, N.Y. — Tom Davis, a writer who with Al Franken helped de­velop some of the most pop­u­lar skits in the early years of Satur­day Night Live, died Thurs­day at age 59. His wife, Mimi Raleigh, said he died of throat and neck can­cer at his home in the Hudson Val­ley, north of New York City. He was di­ag­nosed in 2009.

Davis is best known as the thin­ner, taller part­ner in Franken and Davis, the off-kil­ter com­edy duo who per­formed in the early years of the show. They also were among the first writ­ers hired for the new show in 1975 and helped cre­ate mem­o­rable work such as the Cone­heads skit with Dan Aykroyd and what evolved into the Nick the Lounge Singer skit star­ring Bill Mur­ray per­form­ing loun­ge­lizard ver­sions of songs in­clud­ing the Star Wars theme.

Raleigh said Davis and Franken “were two of the first writ­ers hired — with one salary.”

As per­form­ers, Davis was the quiet guy, over­shad­owed by the flashier Franken, who is now a Demo­cratic se­na­tor from Min­nesota. Davis, in a 2009 in­ter­view with The As­so­ci­ated Press, said, “If we were Sonny and Cher, he would be Cher.”

Franken said he spoke with Davis’s mother Thurs­day, and she re­called fondly all the laugh­ter that would come from the base­ment when the two first got started in com­edy.

“I vis­ited Tom two weeks ago, and though he was deathly ill, we did a lot of laugh­ing,” Franken said. “He was a great friend, a good man, and so funny.”

SNL cre­ator and ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Lorne Michaels said “no one saw things the way that Tom did.”

“He was funny, he was orig­i­nal and he was al­ways there to help no mat­ter the hour,” he said. “And I al­ways trusted his laugh. I can still kinda hear it.”

In his mem­oir, Thirty-Nine Years of Short-Term Mem­ory Loss: The Early Days of SNL From Some­one Who Was There, Davis also de­tailed friend­ships with coun­ter­cul­ture le­gends Jerry Gar­cia and Ti­mothy Leary, his own drug use and his travel as a young hip­pie to In­dia in the 1970s.

Davis kept up his quirky sense of hu­mour to the end, writ­ing an essay on his ex­pe­ri­ences with can­cer and the com­ing end of his life.

“I wake up in the morn­ing, de­lighted to be wak­ing up, read, write, feed the birds, watch sports on TV, ac­cept­ing the fact that in the fore­see­able fu­ture I will be a dead per­son,” Davis wrote. “I want to re­mind you that dead peo­ple are peo­ple too.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.