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Anne Beatts, comedy pioneer and original ‘SNL’ writer, deceased at 74

NEW YORK – Anne Beatts, a revolutionary comedian with a taste for the sweet and the macabre who was on the original crew of “Saturday Night Live” and then created the cult sitcom “Square Pegs” has passed away. She was 74 years old.

Beatts died at her home in West Hollywood, California on Wednesday, according to her close friend Rona Kennedy. Kennedy, a film producer and faculty member at Chapman University, did not immediately know the cause of death.

Beginning in 1975 and for five seasons, Beatts was part of a team of talented writers that included Rosie Shuster, Alan Zweibel, Marilyn Suzanne Miller and cast members such as Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase who helped make “Saturday Night Live” a cultural phenomenon for NBC. Along with Shuster, she would invent the beloved young nerds – Lisa Loopner (played by Gilda Radner) and high-pant goofball Todd DiLaMuca (Bill Murray), and help invent catchphrases such as Lisa, “It’s so funny J forgot to laugh. “

Anne Beatts, left, and Deanne Stillman, editors of the comedy book “Titters” in 1977.Kenn Bisio / Denver Post via Getty Images File

Beatts would later draw on his own experience as an outsider in high school for his own “Square Pegs” series.

“If you look at the nerds, she knew this world,” Zweibel told The Associated Press. “She and Rosie treated these characters with love. She knew this world. If you watch ‘Square Pegs’ the title alone says it all.”

Created in 1982, “Square Pegs” was then a rare teen-centric sitcom starring Sarah Jessica Parker in a leading role as a high school freshman trying to fit in. “Square Pegs” lasted only one season, but was loved by critics and later praised for anticipating – and surpassing – the teenage comedies for which John Hughes would soon become famous.

“The show was also just plain cool, reaching out to teenagers who shared a common interest in their interests that made young people feel seen before the Hughes films had a similar effect,” wrote Jen Chaney of the magazine. New York in 2020. “No other show on Back then TV would have focused an entire episode on Pac-Man addiction or a new wave themed bat mitzvah starring current band Devo performing.” That’s Good ”. “

On Thursday Parker tweeted, “He’s having trouble finding adequate and appropriate descriptive words to describe his singular self. I need time. Because I’m not up to it. Gosh, she was really something. RIP Anne. Thank you. For the very few memories. The 17/18 year olds are successful. “

The Beatts’ subsequent credits included writing for “Murphy Brown” and “The Belles of Bleeker Street”, producing “A Different World” and writing assistance for the musical “Leader of the Pack”. She is survived by her daughter, Jaylene; sister Barbara Resucha; and nieces Jennifer and Kate Dreger.

Anne Beatts attends “Live From New York!” – Los Angeles Premiere – After Party at Hinoki & The Bird in Los Angeles, June 10, 2015.Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images for JGL Inc.

Beatts was originally from Buffalo, New York, who eventually settled with his family in upstate Somers. She grew up among readers and joke letters and spoke of perfecting herself, if only to keep pace.

After attending McGill University, she obtained a comedy writing for National Lampoon magazine, where many future “Saturday Night Live” performers and writers worked. She left the magazine in the mid-1970s, out of frustration at being overlooked by the predominantly male staff. But while she was there, she started dating another writer Michael O’Donoghue, who was hired by producer Lorne Michaels for what became “Saturday Night Live”.

“I’ve never been a real Lampoon reader,” Michaels told Rolling Stone in 1983, “but Anne was recommended to me by Michael O’Donoghue. She thought I was hiring her for the wrong reasons – because that O’Donoghue was her boyfriend then – and when we met she was both friendly and suspicious. She was a little combative. But that was in 1975. Everyone was a little combative in 1975. “

Beatts, who initially turned Michaels down in part because she didn’t like television, was already known for her unusual sense of humor which was shared by many on “Saturday Night Live”. In a fake Volkswagen ad in Lampoon, she provided a notorious slogan, referring to Senator Ted Kennedy’s 1969 car crash on Chappaquiddick Island: “If Ted Kennedy drove a Volkswagen, he would be president today ‘hui. “

In an email to The Associated Press, Laraine Newman, cast member of “Saturday Night Live,” wrote that the Beatts “brought the tenacity of National Lampoon with her when she wrote on our show. But she didn’t teach it to Lampoon. She had done it before. Such a contradiction also because she was a very nice person.



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