Marion Ramsey: life and career highlights of Police Academy actress who has died aged 73

Ramsey featured alongside cast members Steve Guttenberg, Leslie Easterbrook and Bubba Smith in the ‘80s film franchise

Marion Ramsey, star of the Police Academy films, has died at the age of 73. (Pic: PA)
Marion Ramsey, star of the Police Academy films, has died at the age of 73. (Pic: PA)

Actress Marion Ramsey, famous for her role as the squeaky-voiced officer Laverne Hooks in the Police Academy film series, has died, aged 73.

She passed suddenly on Thursday 7 January 2021 at her Los Angeles home after a short illness. No cause of death has been determined as yet, say her representatives.

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Ramsey was no stranger to the spotlight over her glittering 40-plus year career which saw her star on the screen and stage - here's a look back on her career highlights.

Who was Marion Ramsey?

Ramsey was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 10 May 1947.

Though she is most known for her role in the Police Academy franchise on the big screen she began her acting career on the stage, becoming a regular on Broadway.

Though a star of the screen for more than 40 years she led a private life away from the public spotlight but was an active advocate of HIV and AIDS awareness.

What TV shows and films was she known for?

Ramsey began her on screen career with a guest role on American television sitcom The Jeffersons, which led to a regular slot on Bill Cosby's sketch show Cos.

But it was the role of Hooks in the 1984 comedy Police Academy, alongside Steve Guttenberg, Leslie Easterbrook and Bubba Smith, which propelled her to new levels of stardom.

Ramsey continued to be a hit as she featured in five of the sequels under the same name.

And was convinced to reprise her role as Hooks for a voice part in Seth Green’s 2006 animated sketch titled Robot Chicken.

Her list of on screen credits also include Beverly Hills 90210, in which she played a careers counsellor, and Modern Family, appearing in one episode.

Her final film role came in 2018’s When I Sing, where she played a character named Reggie.

What Broadway shows did she appear in?

She appeared in both the Broadway and touring productions of Hello, Dolly! and starred opposite Bette Davis in Miss Moffat.

Ramsey was a mainstay on Broadway and featured in many shows, including Eubie! with Gregory and Maurice Hines, and Harold Prince’s Grind with Ben Vereen.

Her representatives said she was “particularly proud” of being the inspiration for one of the three main characters in Broadway’s Dreamgirls, produced by Tom Eyen.

Dreamgirls made the big screen in 2006 and featured Beyonce, Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy.

How will Ramsey be remembered?

In a statement released by her management team at Roger Paul Inc, Ramsey’s “passion for performing and sharing her heart with the world was immense”.

“Marion carried with her a kindness and permeating light that instantly filled a room upon her arrival,” the statement continued.

“The dimming of her light is already felt by those who knew her well. We will miss her and always love her.”

Her voice, so fondly recognised, was “unique and gentle, equally fitting her golden generous spirit, and humorous disposition”.

Ramsey is survived by her three brothers.

Twitter tributes

A message was posted on Twitter from the account of When I Sing, the last film Ramsey appeared in, which paid tribute to one of its stars.

It read: “It is with great sadness that I share our loss of my friend, and one of the shining stars of When I Sing (her final role), the beautiful, kind, hilarious, #MarionRamsey. I will miss you, my silly sister.”

British producer Jonathan Sothcott also paid tribute to “a fine comedic actress”.

He wrote: “In the 80s the Police Academy films cast a long shadow over the comedy genre - they were everywhere & everyone watched them #MarionRamsey was hilarious as Hooks - a fine comedic actress.”