Former Saturday Night Live star Jan Hooks died today at age 57, reports CNN. The actress and comedian had been battling a "serious illness," reports TMZ. Hooks performed on SNL from 1986-91, the era of Chris Farley, Phil Hartman, Dana Carvey, and Mike Myers, among others. Her role as one of the two Sweeney Sisters (with Nora Dunn) was among her most famous, along with her impersonations of Sinead O'Connor, Hillary Clinton, and Kathie Lee Gifford, notes People. After her run on SNL, she appeared on the show Designing Women for two seasons, and later, she got nominated for an Emmy for her role as Vicki Dubcek on 3rd Rock From the Sun. Hooks got her start in her native Atlanta on the Bill Tush Show, then moved on to the national stage via Not Necessarily the News.
All that is impressive, but she was actually "at her best in what was her last role in 2010: Verna, Jenna Maroney's mess of a mom on 30 Rock," writes Jordan Kushins at Gizmodo. She was in just two episodes, but they were enough to anoint her as "the funniest dysfunctional mom on television." NBC News recounts this quote of hers, given to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 1986 about her first episode of SNL: "When the band started, I felt I was being lifted to another level. 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." (Read more Saturday Night Live stories.)