Jan Hooks, an actress best known for her roles in Saturday Night Live (SNL) and Designing Women, died on Thursday. She was 57 years old. Hooks succumbed to death after a long battle with a terminal disease. She was originally from Decatur, Georgia, but went on to become a successful comedian and actress know in both New York City and Hollywood.
She was a cast member for SNL from 1986 until 1991, although she continued to make appearances for the show until 1994. During that time she worked alongside notable cast members such as Dana Carvey, Phil Hartmann, and Jon Lovitz, among many others. She also became friends, and eventually dated one of her fellow cast members from SNL, Kevin Nealon, who is known comedian and actor in his own right. After her stint with SNL, she replaced Jean Smart on the CBS program Designing Women, where she played Carlene Frazier Dobber. She also appeared in HBO’s comedic show, Not Necessarily the News. Among her other appearances on television were The Dana Carvey Show, 3rd Rock From the Sun, as well as providing voices for animated television series such as The Simpsons and Futurama, among others. She also played a memorable movie role as a rather bubbly tour guide in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985).
Many of her fellow actors who worked alongside her on Saturday Night Live and Designing Women expressed shock and sadness to hear of the death of Jan Hooks. They remembered her as a very funny comedian with tremendous acting and comedic range. Her former boyfriend and SNL cast member Nealon was very impressed with her comedic range, and said that she would totally immerse herself in whatever character she would play. He also said that few people were as funny off the stage as she was. Lovitz similarly said that Hooks was one of the very best cast members of SNL, while Amy Poehler considered her talents nothing short of genius. Seth MacFarlane said that he would remember her as one of the funniest ever cast members for SNL. Among others who publicly recognized her and expressed sadness of her passing with comments on their Twitter accounts were Patton Oswalt, Seth Myers, Billy Eichner, Cheri Oteri, Margaret Cho, Dane Cook, and Katie Couric.
Among her most memorable roles as a cast member of Saturday Night Live, Hooks played Sinead O’Connor, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Kathie Lee Gifford, Diane Sawyer, and Candy Sweeney of the of the numerous and popular Sweeney Sisters sketches for the show, which she played alongside fellow SNL cast member Nora Dunn. She also played Vera Maroney, the mother of Jenna Maroney, on 30 Rock, a role for which she was nominated for an Emmy.
Jan Hooks, who played memorable comedic roles in the late eighties with Saturday Night Live and Designing Women, died Thursday after being sick for a very long time. Details of her long and deadly illness were not disclosed. But the outpouring of emotions from her fellow actors and peers made it clear that she will be missed.
By Charles Bordeau