The original ‘Saturday Night Live’ writer Anne Beatts died at 74 years old

Anne Beatts, one of the original authors for Saturday Night Live and the creator of the 1982 sitcom Square Pegs, has died at the age of 74. The announcement came from Laraine Newman, an SNL original actress, although no further details have been confirmed.

Beatts began her career as a comedy writer as the first editor of National Lampoon Magazine, a spin-off from Harvard Lampoon. It was there that she met Michael O’Donoghue, with whom she would work closely to develop Lorne Michaels’ idea that eventually became SNL.

With writing partner Rosie Shuster, she created some of the show’s most memorable characters, including Todd and Lisa (played by Bill Murray and Gilda Radner), Uncle Roy (Buck Henry), Irwin Mainway and Fred Garvin (Dan Aykroyd). Beatts found herself again as one of the few women in the room, advocating her plays frequently, and deliberately hiring a mostly female writing team when she launched Square Pegs.

“I always say very freely when people ask, ‘How did you get into comedy?’ … “The way Catherine the Great got into politics,” she told the television academy in 2009. “It wasn’t like a Machiavellian scheme on my part. … It was just that I was attracted to people who were “doing things that I wanted to do.”

“I remember spending the night in my office once on Saturday Night Live,” she noted. “There was heavy snow overnight and I looked out the window on 5th Avenue and saw that the entire street was covered with pristine fresh snow. I just felt very happy and thought the eight year old always wanted to stay in town – if you went to FAO Schwarz and the Natural History Museum – and I always said, “One day I won’t go.” I thought if someone had said to the eight-year-old: “Well, you will do that; You will have this moment: “I would have just been amazed.”

Square Pegs, which ran for a season, played a young Sarah Jessica Parker and Amy Linker as two teenagers in their freshman year of high school. Part of the show’s legacy has been heavy use of contemporary new wave music, including a waitress theme song and a guest musical appearance by Devo. The rock mood even extended to the casting: Among other things, Doors drummer John Densmore appeared in one episode as part of a fictional band.

“My idea for Square Pegs was that rock music was very important to kids and that rock music should always be on the show,” Beatts said in an interview at the time, adding, “I think this is an integral part of the show.”

She walked on the show’s musical legacy in a Yahoo! Interview. “It was groundbreaking, but nobody [at the network] wanted us to do it because they thought it would disrupt the dialogue! “, she said.” And they certainly didn’t want to spend the money on it. “Nobody, nobody, nobody wanted us to do it. But I knew it was important to keep making music. “

Beatts found more TV work after Square Pegs: Among other things, she produced the first season of the Cosby show spin-off A Different World from 1987-88, wrote an episode of Murphy Brown in 1991 and wrote the TV film The Elvira with Show in 1993 . She has worked in other media as well, including Broadway productions (1979 cowriting Radner’s One Woman Show), humor columns, several books (both as a writer and editor), and in teaching (including a tenure as adjunct professor of writing ) School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California).

“We did comedy for ourselves,” Beatts told Vancouver Film School in 2011, reflecting on the philosophy of the early SNL. “Do we find this funny? We’ll put it on the air.”

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