Anne Beatts, Legendary ‘Saturday Night Live’ Writer, Dies at 74

by Madison Miller

Anne Beatts, one of the original writers from the popular comedy show “Saturday Night Live,” passed away on April 7. She died in her home in West Hollywood, California at the age of 74.

Beatts was a writer at National Lampoon magazine and also “Saturday Night Live.” She is often credited for helping to diminish the glass ceiling for female comedy writers. In fact, Beatts helped to formulate the distinctive style of brash, aggressive, distinctive, and hilarious comedy.

The show originally premiered in 1975. The original cast was Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Laraine Newman, and Gilda Radner. Beatts worked with Michael O’Donoghue while at National Lampoon. The two became romantically involved and actually joined “SNL” together.

Anne Beatts: Pioneer of the Comedy World

She was a true pioneer of the TV comedy world. In fact, she received five Emmy nominations during her career and won once.

Beatts had also gone on to create her own show, “Square Pegs.” She had five female writers and only one man working on her team. Beatts had not only created legendary characters, but she had given countless female writers and comedians a voice when they weren’t being heard. She gave many women their big break and was quite the advocate.

“Square Pegs” was critically acclaimed at the time for a realistic look into the teenage experience. The show focused on two teenage girls portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker and Amy Linker.

After a series of different works in the ’90s, Beatts eventually moved from television writing. She directed “John Waters Presents Movies That Will Corrupt You” and was a judge on an online comedy competition called “Project Breakout.”

Anne Beatts has used her distinctive, dark, and hilarious comedy writing to impact other people. She began teaching at the University of Southern California and Chapman University in the writing department.

Key Characters and Experience with ‘SNL’

According to The Washington Post, Anne Beatts was one of the three women in the original writing room. She described the space as making her feel “like Wendy on the island of Lost Boys.” She worked on the popular nighttime comedy show until 1980. For longtime fans of the comedy show, Beatts characters may still be familiar.

She helped create Uncle Roy, the creepy babysitter portrayed by Buck Henry or Irwin Mainway, a toy company president with some obviously dangerous products portrayed by Dan Aykroyd. She also created the teenage pair, “the Nerds,” with Bill Murray as one half. Perhaps one of the fan’s favorites was Aykroyd as Fred Garvin, the male prostitute.

According to a 2009 interview with the Television Academy, Beatts revealed just how toxic the writing room at “Saturday Night Live” felt at the time. She said that Belushi Michaels, the show’s creator and producer, would openly refuse to play any part in skits women on the team wrote.

He would also work to try to get them fired from the show.

Tribute to Anne Beatts on ‘Saturday Night Live’

According to USA Today, the show honored her in a recent episode. A graphic card showing her writing appeared with the text, “Anne Beatts, 1947-2021.”

Anne Beatts worked alongside writers like Rosie Shuster, Alan Zweibel, and Marilyn Suzanne Miller. Without their direct work, “Saturday Night Live” would likely not still be alive and thriving today.

“She had a lot of courage. She got out there and fought for what she believed in, and that was great for me [Anne] could really pitch an idea at a meeting. There was a definiteness about her that made you think you needed to make a mark,” Shuster said about Beatts to AP News.