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The Best SNL Cast Members Who Died Too Soon

List RulesVote up the funniest Saturday Night Live members who unexpectedly died at the height of their careers.

This list examines the tragic fates of all of the Saturday Night Live cast members who passed too soon. The SNL curse has been attributed to the untimely passing of many SNL cast members. Some of these hilarious comedians succumbed to cancer or other illnesses, while other SNL members suffered overdoses.

Who will you find on this list of SNL cast members who left us too soon? Known for hilarious sketches like Samurai Hotel and the Blues Brothers, John Belushi was a breakout star member of Saturday Night Live's original cast. Sadly, he struggled with substance use for many years; on March 5, 1982, he was found unresponsive in his Los Angeles hotel room at the age of 33. Chris Farley ("Da Super Fans," "The Chris Farley Show," "Matt Foley Motivational Speaker," etc.) also passed from substance use at the age of 33 in 1997.

Perhaps the most tragic SNL passing was that of Phil Hartman, who perished at the hands of his own wife, Brynn Omdahl, in 1998. Other SNL cast members who left us too soon include Gilda Radner, Jan Hooks, and Charlie Rocket.

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    1210 VOTES

    Jan Hooks made her Saturday Night Live debut in 1986 and soon became famous for her thoughtful and hilarious impressions (Tammy Faye Bakker, Sinead O’Connor) and fan-favorite recurring bits (the Sweeney Sisters). She starred in Designing Women after leaving SNL and also appeared in films like Batman Returns and Coneheads, the latter of which also featured SNL alums Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin, Chris Farley, and more.

    After a small lump was discovered on her throat, Hooks learned she had cancer. She declined treatment which would have left her disfigured and voiceless and had no guarantee of success. She passed on October 9, 2014, at the age of 57.

    • Age: Dec. at 57 (1957-2014)
    • Birthplace: Decatur, Georgia, United States of America
    1,078
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  • Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Fair use
    6
    1213 VOTES

    Though Andy Kaufman was not an official cast member of Saturday Night Live, he made over a dozen appearances and performed the "Mighty Mouse" theme during the first episode ever. His "Foreign Man" and "Intergender Wrestling Champion" bits also delighted and confused SNL viewers.

    Kaufman often blurred the lines between performance and reality, so when he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1984 - he never was a smoker - some thought his illness was faked or just another bit. He passed in Los Angeles on May 16, 1984, at the age of 35.

    • Age: Dec. at 35 (1949-1984)
    • Birthplace: New York, New York, USA
    • Cause Of Death: Lung cancer
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  • Photo: Saturday Night Live / NBC
    7
    918 VOTES

    Danitra Vance was the first Black woman to become a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live when she joined the team in 1986. Prior to joining SNL, she wrote a one-woman play and performed at Second City and BACA Downtown in New York.

    After leaving SNL after one season, during which she primarily played stereotypical roles, Vance went on to have great success on the stage with collaborations with George C. Wolfe.

    She used her diagnosis of advanced breast cancer as inspiration for her off-Broadway play The Radical Girl's Guide to Radical Mastectomy. She succumbed to the disease in 1994 at the age of 40.

    • Age: Dec. at 40 (1954-1994)
    • Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America
    • Cause Of Death: Breast cancer
    747
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    Prior to joining the writing staff of Saturday Night Live in 1975, Michael O'Donoghue wrote for the National Lampoon. He also wrote the 1988 film Scrooged starring SNL alum Bill Murray. During his tenure at Saturday Night Live, he was not only the first person to utter a line on the show, but also shared the Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in both 1976 and 1977.

    O'Donoghue suffered a tragic cerebral hemorrhage in 1994 at the age of 54 after a history of chronic migraines.

    • Age: Dec. at 54 (1940-1994)
    • Birthplace: USA, New York, Sauquot
    • Cause Of Death: Cerebral hemorrhage
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