For those of us who remember Saturday Night Live (SNL) in the late 80s and early 90s, we remember many now familiar household names. The likes of Phil Hartman and Dana Carvey were character actors we tuned into every Saturday night to see hilarious imitations of Ronald Reagan and George Bush and a whole mix of other acts that made us laugh due to pure comedic genius. Phil Hartman’s death stunned the nation and his premature departure from us sent a chilling shock to those of us who admired his work. Yesterday, another from that beloved group Loren Michaels assembled has left us as well. Jan Hooks passed away in Manhattan with the cause of death still unknown or unreleased at this point. She was a mere 57 years of age. Due to so many untimely deaths from a show that has seen too many die too young, we are all taken aback when a story such as this happens.
When the news broke of Hooks’ passing, one could not help but be put into a time warp and think about her days on SNL. We are all thrust back an era that included the first Gulf War, Monica Lewinski and everything else that preceded the onslaught of cellular technology. When first hearing of her death, I could not help but remember the sketch she did with Nora Dunn. “The Sweeney Sisters” was a recurring skit of two sisters who sang high-pitched classic songs while dressed in pastel-colored evening gowns that were a laugh all in themselves. The two would work a crowd while displaying bravado and high emotion. The humor was tied into their seeming out of this world confidence set against a serious lack of pure singing talent.
There were other memorable SNL moments Jan Hooks gave us as well. Who can ever forget the skit she did as Betty Davis. She showed the crazy side of Betty like no other actress could. The skit centered around the reading of the will after she had passed. A video tape was played of Betty reading her list will and testament. Constant fast forwarding by the executor only added to the entertainment as a long-winded Betty prattled on and on about her life.
The passing of Jan Hooks is almost as unbelievable as the amount of time that has passed since she dazzled us with her performances. It is almost impossible to begin to reminisce about those days long gone. Where were we? What were we doing? What were our lives like in those times? Perhaps we all can be a bit sentimental about that time. For some reason, life seemed better back in those days. No meth epidemic, no housing and mortgage crisis and no endless wars. The problems and issues our nation has incurred since that time can make the crises of those days look like child’s play. The fatigue some of us feel in these modern times can be eased a bit if we just look back at Jan, smile for the laughs she gave us, and wish the Sweeney Sisters could put on just one more show. For this fan of Saturday Night Live, R.I.P. Jan and thanks for all the wonderful memories.
Blog By Troy Szymik