Here’s some sad news for comedy fans. Anne Beatts, best known as being a trailblazer as part of the original writing staffs for National Lampoon and Saturday Night Live, has died at 74.
Originally from Buffalo, New York, Beatts joined the inaugural writing staff of the National Lampoon magazine in 1970. While there, she worked alongside fellow comedy luminaries as Doug Kenny, Henry Beard, Tony Hendra, P.J. O’Rourke, and Michael O’Donoghue, whom Beatts wound up dating for a few years. She went on to become the first female editor of the publication. In the film version of the Lampoon, A Futile And Stupid Gesture, Beatts was played by Natasha Lyonne.
In 1975, Beatts joined the original writing staff of Saturday Night Live. Beatts helped set the mold -alongside Rosie Shuster and Marilyn Suzanne Miller- for all the female writers that would follow on that show. Some of her most memorable contributions include Todd and Lisa Lupner, Fred Garvin: Male Prostitute, Irwin Mainway, and Uncle Roy. She received an Emmy Award in 1976 for her writing on the show.
In 1982, she created the sitcom Square Pegs for NBC. Despite only lasting one season, the show has built up a loyal cult fan base over the years. It even served as one of the first big breaks for its star, Sarah Jessica Parker.
Other credits include serving as a producer on A Different World, being co-creator/executive producer of The Stephanie Miller Show and an episode of Murphy Brown. In 2006, she directed John Waters Presents Movies That Will Corrupt You. She also co-wrote the book Titters 101: An Introduction to Women’s Literature.
In her final years, she was a professor at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. One of the last things she was working on before she passed was an animated series of The Blues Brothers, which she was creating alongside Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi’s widow, Judith.
While unfortunately some may not be familiar with her by name, you definitely know the work that she’s done in comedy. And the impact of that work will certainly live on.