Tampa Bay Times
Original ‘SNL’ writer who broke into boys’ club of comedy
Anne Beatts, who broke into the boys’ club of comedy as a writer at National Lampoon and Saturday Night Live, where she helped shape the show’s brash, bold and gleefully irreverent sensibility before creating a television series of her own with the sitcom Square Pegs, died April 7 at her home in West Hollywood, Calif.
Her longtime writing and producing partner, Eve Brandstein, confirmed the death but said she did not know the cause.
Beatts had written for National Lampoon and the Village Voice before being hired for Saturday Night Live along with her boyfriend at the time, Michael O’Donoghue. With Marilyn Suzanne Miller and Rosie
Shuster, she was one of three women in the show’s original writer’s room, a space that made her feel “like Wendy on the island of Lost Boys,” as she later put it.
Premiering in 1975, SNL — initially known as NBC’s Saturday Night — became a surprise hit, turning cast members such as Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Laraine Newman and Gilda Radner into stars. Behind the scenes, performers and writers frequently fought, dated, broke up and partied, in what Beatts described as “a combination of summer camp and concentration camp.”
“It was pretty much any adjective you want to throw at it,” she told the Orange County Register in 2013. “It was exciting, stimulating and fabulous. It was also horrible, boring and exhausting.”
Beatts worked at SNL until 1980, partnering with Shuster to create recurring characters such as Uncle Roy, a pedophile babysitter played by frequent guest host Buck Henry, and Aykroyd’s Irwin Mainway, a toy company president whose wares include a Johnny Switchblade rubber doll and the aptly named Bag O’Glass, which retails for $1.98.
They were also responsible for Aykroyd’s “Fred Garvin: Male Prostitute,” who offers his clients “professional hygiene, discretion and animal gratification,” and for “the Nerds,” a teenage duo that included noogie-giving, high-pantsed Todd DiLaMuca (Bill Murray) and bespectacled, Tang-drinking Lisa Loopner (Radner).