Tom Davis dies at 59; original ‘SNL’ writer alongside Al Franken

This 1978 photo shows "Saturday Night Live" writer/performers Al Franken, left, and Tom Davis.

Tom Davis, a comedy writer who teamed with Al Franken to write memorable bits on"Saturday Night Live” beginning with the late-night show’s debut in 1975, has died. He was 59.

Davis died Thursday at his home in Hudson, N.Y., his wife, Mimi Raleigh, told the Associated Press. He had throat and neck cancer.

Classmates while growing up in Minneapolis, Davis and Franken developed stand-up routines in Minnesota and Los Angeles before landing the gig on “Saturday Night Live.” They wrote and performed on the show, creating the Coneheads characters and skits featuring Bill Murray’s Nick the Lounge Singer.

As performers, Davis was the quiet one, overshadowed by the flashier Franken, who is now a Democratic senator from Minnesota. Davis told the AP in 2009: “If we were Sonny and Cher, he would be Cher.” The two had a falling out in 1990 but later reconciled.


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Davis stayed with “SNL” from its first season until 1980, then returned for another run from 1985 to 1994 and again in 2002-03. He was among the “SNL” writers who shared Emmy Awards in 1976, ’77 and ’89. He won another writing Emmy in 1978 for a Paul Simon variety show.

Born Aug. 13, 1952, in Minneapolis, Davis recalled a childhood spent watching “The Mickey Mouse Club” on television while wearing Mouseketeer ears. He was the older of two brothers. Their father worked for 3M, and their mother was the 1950 Queen of the Lakes of the Minneapolis Aquatennial, an annual summer festival.

In his 2009 memoir, “Thirty-Nine Years of Short-Term Memory Loss: The Early Days of SNL From Someone Who Was There,” Davis detailed friendships with counterculture legends Jerry Garcia and Timothy Leary, his own drug use and his travels to India in the 1970s as a young hippie.

Besides his wife, Davis is survived by his mother, Jean, and his brother, Robert.