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'Saturday Night Live' Vet Jan Hooks Dead at 57

Comedian and actress Jan Hooks died on Thursday, a representative told NBC News. She was 57.
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Comedian and actress Jan Hooks died on Thursday, a representative told NBC News. She was 57.

Hooks was a regular player on "Saturday Night Live" from 1986 to 1991 and continued to appear on the show in cameos until 1994. Her best-known character was Candy Sweeney of the Sweeney Sisters with Nora Dunn, and she was praised for her memorable impressions of many A-List celebrities and politicians, including Hillary Clinton, Nancy Reagan, Jodie Foster and Sinead O'Connor.

Hooks left "SNL" to join the cast of "Designing Women" when Jean Smart left that comedy. She later had a recurring role on "3rd Rock from the Sun" and guest-starred in "30 Rock."

No other details of her death were immediately available.

Born in Decatur, Ga., Hooks moved to Florida during high school in 1973 when her father was transferred there for his job. She attended the University of West Florida in Pensacola, but did not earn her degree because she fell in love with acting.

She returned to Atlanta in 1979 where she worked in dinner theaters and joined the New Wits End Players, a comedy ensemble group. Eventually, she worked with Bill Tush on "Tush," a one-hour comedy-variety show for Turner Broadcasting and gained a cult following for her collection of characters. Hooks moved to Los Angeles in 1983, where she appeared in several TV shows and movies, including "Wildcats" and "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure," which earned her critical acclaim.

Three years later, she joined "Saturday Night Live." Her six-minute stand-up audition was "brutal," she said in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 1986. Performing in the first episode wasn't much easier:

"When the band started, I felt I was being lifted to another level," she said. "I stared into space. I must have been catatonic. I remember the hair guy asking me, 'You with me honey?' But deep within my heart I knew I could do it. I felt OK once I was out there. It's like a roller coaster ride. If you make it through the first trip, you can't wait to get back on."


- Maria Elena Fernandez