LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Tom Davis, who along with Al Franken formed the comedy duo “Franken and Davis” and went on to write for “Saturday Night Live” and win four Emmy Awards, died on Thursday at age 59.
Davis died of throat and neck cancer, his wife Mimi Raleigh told the New York Times.
He grew up in Minnesota where he met Franken, and the two formed a comedy duo when they were both teenagers. He wrote for “Saturday Night Live” from 1975 to 2003, and famously shared a writing salary with Franken when he first joined the show.
One of the recurring sketches Davis helped create on the show was “Theodoric of York.” It starred Steve Martin and was about a barber surgeon who relied on bloodletting to cure any ailment.
Davis also worked on SNL’s popular “Conehead” sketches about a family of aliens living in the United States who famously consumed “mass quantities” of beer and cigarettes. Davis co-wrote the 1993 film adaptation along with Dan Aykroyd, who starred as the alien father “Beldar” in both the SNL skits and the film.
Aside from the three Emmy Awards he won for his writing work on “Saturday Night Live” and one for “The Paul Simon Special” in 1977, Davis was also nominated for another nine Emmy Awards.
Davis died at his home in Hudson, New York, according to the newspaper.
Franken, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008 to represent Minnesota after a long career in show business, remembered Davis as “a great friend, a good man, and so funny” and he called his death “a sad day for all of us who loved Tom.”
In a statement, Franken said he had spoken with Davis’ mother on Thursday “and she recalled fondly all the laughter that would come from the basement when Tom and I first got started in comedy.”
Lorne Michaels, the creator of “Saturday Night Live,” credited Davis with helping to get the long-running show off the ground.
“He was there from the beginning,” Michaels said in a statement. “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. And I always trusted his laugh. I can still kinda hear it.”
Jim Downey, a longtime writer for “Saturday Night Live” who began working with Davis in 1976, called him “a loyal friend, a generous and supportive collaborator, and utterly unthreatened by the success of talent of those around him.”
“His old pals have known for some time that this day was coming, but still it’s hard to accept that he’s now no longer out there, somewhere, thinking those crazy thoughts that no one else would think.”
Reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Stacey Joyce