Anne Beatts, pioneering ‘SNL’ writer and ‘Square Pegs’ creator, has died

Anne Beatts, a pioneering writer for “Saturday Night Live” and National Lampoon who also created the sitcom “Square Pegs,” died Wednesday, according to a statement from NBC. She was 74.

A two-time Emmy winner for “SNL,” Beatts became the first female contributing editor to the humor magazine National Lampoon before being tapped as part of the founding writing team on the NBC latenight program in 1975. She worked on a number of memorable sketches, including several featuring Gilda Radner, among them the “Nerds” with then-writing partner Rosie Shuster. Beatts was also a writer on the 1980 film “Gilda Live,” a filmed version of Radner’s Broadway show.

In a 2009 interview with the Television Academy, Beatts recalled of those early days on the show, “Rosie Shuster and I collaborated a lot, and for most of the time we were the only two women. … We would always feel the responsibility to make sure that ‘the girls’ in the cast, as they were known, were covered.”

Beatts left “Saturday Night” in 1980 and created “Square Pegs,” a teen-oriented comedy that starred Sarah Jessica Parker but ran only one season.

Subsequent credits included “The Cosby Show” spinoff “A Different World” and producing “The Stephanie Miller Show.” Her writing also included books — co-editing a collection of women’s humor called “Titters” — and a column for the Los Angeles Times.

Beatts returned to “SNL” to contribute to its 25th anniversary special in 1999. Most recently, she had been teaching writing at Chapman University in Southern California through its school of film and media arts, having also taught at USC and Cal State University at Northridge.

Original “SNL” cast member Laraine Newman tweeted, “Our Anne — an OG SNL writer passed away yesterday.” In 2020, Vulture critic Jen Chaney wrote an appreciation of Beatts, saying, “Whether they realize it or not, every teen series and movie that followed ‘Square Pegs’ owes it, and Anne Beatts, a debt of total gratitude.”

She is survived by her daughter, Jaylene Beatts. The cause of death was not disclosed.

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