Marion Ramsey, the American actress and singer best known for her portrayal of the soft-spoken Officer Laverne Hooks in the Police Academy films, has died at the age of 73 after a short illness.

Ramsey's management said she passed away at home in Los Angeles, having taken ill in recent days. A cause of death was not disclosed.

"Her passion for performing and sharing her heart with the world was immense," management Roger Paul Inc said in a statement.

"Marion carried with her a kindness and permeating light that instantly filled a room upon her arrival.

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

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Among her many stage credits, Philadelphia-born Ramsey was part of the cast of the original Broadway production of the musical Hello, Dolly! and also starred in the biographical musical Eubie! about jazz pianist Eubie Blake. She was the inspiration for one of the characters in the original Dreamgirls show on Broadway - the hit production later became a film starring Beyoncé, Jennifer Hudson and Anika Noni Rose.

Ramsey's gift for comedy was showcased around the world in 1984's Police Academy - the best of the franchise - and she went on to reprise the role of Officer Hooks in five sequels. She is survived by three brothers.