Al Franken's 'SNL' partner, Tom Davis, dies in NY
HOLD FOR OBIT STORY - FILE - This 1978 file photo from NBC shows "Saturday Night Live" writer/performers Al Franken, left, and Tom Davis in New York. Davis, a writer and performer who with Franken developed some of the most popular skits in the early years of “Saturday Night Live," died Thursday, July 19, 2012. He was 59. (AP Photo/NBC-TV, File)
HUDSON, N.Y. (AP) — 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 lounge-lizard versions of songs including the "Star Wars" theme.
FILE - In this March 12, 2009 file photo, Comedian Tom Davis reminisces with old friends while signing books in Minneapolis. Davis, a writer and performer who with Al Franken developed some of the most popular skits in the early years of “Saturday Night Live," died Thursday, July 19, 2012. He was 59. (AP Photo/Dawn Villella, File)
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."
Dudley Riggs, founder of a comedy theater and improv in Minneapolis where Franken and Davis got their start in the 1970s before heading to "SNL," said Davis would always find "an oblique way" to tell a joke and had "a knack to be able to surprise."