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Tom Davis, Al Franken's Saturday Night Live Writing Partner, Dead at 59

Al Fraken, Tom Davis Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage

Al Franken was good enough and smart enough on his own, but he made comedy history with Tom Davis.

Davis, an Emmy-winning writer who along with Franklin penned some of Saturday Night Live's most iconic sketches, died Thursday of throat and neck cancer at his home in Hudson, N.Y., according to his wife, Mimi Raleigh. He was 59.

"Today is a sad day for all of us who loved Tom," Franken, still a funny guy but now also a Democratic senator, told Minnesota's WCCO-TV. "I spoke with his mom this afternoon and she recalled fondly all the laughter that would come from the basement when Tom and I first got started in comedy."

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The Franken and Davis comedy partnership produced, among others, the "Coneheads" (he also cowrote the 1993 movie); Bill Murray's "Nick the Lounge Singer"; "Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber," starring Steve Martin; and Christopher Walken's "The Continental."

Davis was with SNL from day one—George Carlin hosted the Oct. 11, 1975, premiere—and shared Emmy wins with fellow writers in 1976, 1977 and 1989. He and Franken were also members of the Emmy-winning writing team behind The Paul Simon Special in 1977 (awarded in 1978).

The writing partners left SNL in 1980, but were back a few years later. Davis gave his notice again in 1994, but ultimately kept contributing to the show until 2003.

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In addition to putting his personality on the page, the gangly funnyman also played small roles in Trading Places, Coneheads and Blues Brothers 2000—all films featuring SNL-bred talent.

Davis penned the 2009 memoir Thirty-Nine Years of Short-Term Memory Loss: The Early Days of SNL From Someone Who Was There. Franken wrote the forward and chapter titles include "Dan Aykroyd," "Lorne" and "F--k Johnny Carson." There was also a chapter on his longtime pal and partner in hilarity.

"Though he was deathly ill, we did a lot of laughing," Franken told WCCO, noting that he last visited Davis in New York two weeks ago. "He was a great friend, a good man and so funny."

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