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Jan Hooks and Me

By Victoria Jackson

Thursday, during a Netflix movie, my husband said something about Jan Hooks dying. I hadn’t heard. I started crying.

Some press called me for a quote. My quote – “Jan Hooks was the most talented actress I’ve ever worked with or watched.” And, I meant it.

Then I went online to review Jan’s brilliant work and I became overwhelmed with memories.

In 1983 I was standing on the set of The Half Hour Comedy Hour (an ABC summer replacement show that was similar to Laugh In), waiting for rehearsal, watching my co-star Jan Hooks goofing around with some of the cast. She was doing an impression of a lesbian gas station attendant. She was genius. She was making up the lines on the spot. “Improv” was a new thing. I had never heard of it, or the L.A. Improv Group “The Groundlings,” the group that along with Second City in Chicago produced so many SNL stars. I didn’t even have a TV when I grew up. My childhood was spent in a Baptist Church and a gym doing gymnastics with my Dad, the Baptist deacon gymnastics coach. So, Jan and I had very different upbringings and consequently, very different worldviews.

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went to Hollywood at age 19 to chase my whim of being an actress. I knew that I’d be married with children someday and just wanted to see if I could do it, get on TV. My first play at Furman University had hit me like a lightning bolt. I instantly loved acting. Plus, my dad had been in Vaudeville. I made up a stand-up routine and did it at the Variety Arts Center and around L.A. for 2 years. That got me on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and that opened doors. The first was this comedy show Jan Hooks was in, along with Arsenio Hall, Thom Sharp, John Moschita, Vic Dunlop, and John Paragon among others.

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