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

NEW YORK — Anne Beatts, a groundbreaking comedy author with a style for sweetness and the macabre who was on the original workers of “Saturday Night Live” and later created the cult sitcom “Square Pegs,” has died. She was 74.

Beatts died Wednesday at her house in West Hollywood, California, in response to her shut buddy Rona Kennedy. Kennedy, a movie producer and a fellow college member at (*74*) University, didn’t instantly know the reason for loss of life.

Starting in 1975 and operating for 5 seasons, Beatts was amongst a crew of gifted writers that included Rosie Shuster, Alan Zweibel, Marilyn Suzanne Miller and such solid members as Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase who helped make “Saturday Night Live” a cultural phenomenon for NBC. With Shuster, she would invent the beloved younger nerds — the nasally, Marvin Hamlisch-adoring Lisa Loopner (performed by Gilda Radner) and high-pantsed goofball Todd DiLaMuca (Bill Murray), and assist coin such catchphrases as Lisa’s, “That’s so funny I forgot to laugh.”

Anne Beatts, left, and Deanne Stillman, editors of humor guide “Titters” in 1977.Kenn Bisio / Denver Post through Getty Images file

Beatts would later draw upon her personal acknowledged background as an outsider in highschool for her personal sequence “Square Pegs.”

“If you look looked at the nerds, she knew that world,” Zweibel informed The Associated Press. “She and Rosie handled those characters with love. She knew that world. If you look at ‘Square Pegs,’ the title alone speaks volumes.”

Premiering in 1982, “Square Pegs” was then a uncommon sitcom centering on teen-age women and starring Sarah Jessica Parker in an early function as a first-year highschool scholar making an attempt to slot in. “Square Pegs” lasted only one season however was liked by critics and later praised for anticipating — and topping — the teenager comedies John Hughes would quickly turn out to be well-known for.

“The show was also just plain cool, speaking to teens with a shared interest in their interests that made young people feel seen before the Hughes movies would have a similar effect,” New York journal’s Jen Chaney wrote in 2020. “No other show on TV back then would have focused an entire episode on a Pac-Man addiction or a New Wave-themed bat mitzvah that featured the actual band Devo performing ‘That’s Good.'”

On Thursday, Parker tweeted: “Struggling to find adequate and appropriate descriptive words to describe her singular self. I need time. Cause I’m coming up short. Gosh, she was really something. RIP Anne. Thank you. For memories very few 17/18 yr olds get to make.”

Beatts’ later credits included writing for “Murphy Brown” and “The Belles of Bleeker Street,” producing “A Different World” and helping to write the stage 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, on June 10, 2015.Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images for JGL Inc. file

Beatts was a native of Buffalo, New York, who eventually settled with her family further downstate in Somers. She grew up among readers and joke letters and spoke of honing her own wit if only to keep up.

After attending McGill University, she got an early break writing comedy for National Lampoon magazine, where numerous future “Saturday Night Live” performers and writers worked. She quit the magazine in the mid-1970s, out of frustration of being overlooked by the mostly male staff. But while there she began dating fellow writer Michael O’Donoghue, who was hired by producer Lorne Michaels for what became “Saturday Night Live.”

“I used to be by no means an actual reader of Lampoon,” Michaels told Rolling Stone in 1983, “however Anne had been beneficial to me by Michael O’Donoghue. She thought I used to be hiring her for the improper causes — as a result of O’Donoghue was then her boyfriend — and once we met, she was a mix of pleasant and cautious. She was a bit combative. But that was 1975. Everyone was a bit combative in 1975.”

Beatts, who initially turned Michaels down in part because she didn’t like television, already was known for an unusual sense of humor that was shared by many on “Saturday Night Live.” In a mock Volkswagen ad that ran in Lampoon, she provided a notorious slogan, referring to Sen. Ted Kennedy’s 1969 car accident on Chappaquiddick Island: “If Ted Kennedy drove a Volkswagen, he’d be President in the present day.”

In an email to The Associated Press, “Saturday Night Live” cast member Laraine Newman wrote that Beatts “introduced the toughness of National Lampoon alongside together with her when she wrote on our present. But she did not study it at Lampoon. She already had it. Such a contradiction too as a result of she was a really candy individual.”

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