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Jan Hooks, former 'Saturday Night Live' cast member, dies

Hooks recently appeared on the NBC comedy '30 Rock' and also starred in the movie 'Pee-Wee's Big Adventure.'

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    Jan Hooks appears on the NBC sitcom '30 Rock.'
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Former "Saturday Night Live" cast member Jan Hooks has died.

The 57-year-old Hooks died Thursday in New York, according to The New York Times. The newspaper confirmed the death through Hooks' agent, Lisa Lieberman.

The comic actress was a versatile performer whose impressions ranged from Nancy Reagan to Sinead O'Connor to Tammy Faye Bakker.

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Hooks, a Decatur, Georgia, native, moved into prime time in 1991 as a cast member on the sitcom "Designing Women." She later did an Emmy Award-nominated turn on "3rd Rock From the Sun."

She also appeared in 1992's "Batman Returns" and voiced convenience store owner Apu's wife on "The Simpsons" for several years.

On "SNL," she was part of a 1986 cast infusion that included fellow standouts Dana Carvey and Phil Hartman that helped the show after the previous season's ratings dive.

A former member of the influential comedy troupe The Groundlings, she had been rejected twice before for a spot on the NBC comedy institution.

Besides impersonations that included Bette Davis and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Hooks won laughs for original characters such as Candy, half of the bouffant-haired Sweeney Sisters lounge act. But being on a live weekly broadcast proved hard on the comic actress.

"The show changed my life, obviously. But I have horrible stage fright," she said in an oral history of "SNL." While other performers wanted to "get in there and do it," she said, "I was one of the ones that between dress (rehearsal) and air was sitting in the corner going, 'Please cut everything I'm in.'"

She jumped at the chance to move into prime time when asked to join the sitcom "Designing Women," appearing in the 1991-93 final seasons.

Born April 23, 1957, in Decatur, Georgia, Hooks studied for a time at the University of West Florida in Pensacola before leaving to begin her acting career, which included the 1985 movie "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure."

Her screen work became much more sporadic after the 1990s. On "30 Rock" in 2010, she played the avaricious mother of Jane Krakowski's character, Jenna Maroney.

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