Beatts was known for her sharp and sometimes dark wit, as well as working to break up the boy’s club of comedy and writing and opening doors for women in comedy everywhere. “I’m often accused of going too far,” Beatts once said. “Behind my desire to shock is an even stronger desire to evade the ‘feminine stereotype.’ You say women are afraid of mice? I’ll show you! I’ll eat the mouse!”
In her early career, she worked as one of the few female writers for National Lampoon Magazine, before moving on to become one of the original writing team members for SNL, then called NBC’s Saturday Night. Her fast and cutting wit earned her success on the show, and she created multiple iconic characters played by SNL veterans like Gilda Radner and Bill Murray. PJ O’Rourke told NPR: “Anne was Tina Fey when Tina Fey was making fun of the stuffed animals in her crib.” Throughout her career, she talked about how difficult it could be to find acceptance among her male peers. In one interview, she recalled that John Belushi refused to be in any sketches written by women and tried to get producer Lorne Michaels to fire the female writers.
During her time at SNL, she said the writers room made her tough, but “tougher than [she] needed to be.” She said, “Essentially, you find out that if you try to be one of the guys, you just end up being a slightly defective guy.” Beatts considered herself an outsider and used that perspective often in her writing. After SNL, she created the short-lived but beloved show called Square Pegs, which focused on two teenage girls (one of whom was a young Sarah Jessica Parker) embarking on hilarious storylines and sharing the feminine experience, something that was incredibly hard to come by in television at the time. “The show was just plain cool, speaking to teens with a shared interest in their interest that made young people feel seen before the Hughes movies would have a similar effect,” wrote New York Magazine last year.
Beatts also wrote for shows like Murphy Brown and The Belles of Bleeker Street. She produced A Different Worldand co-wrote the stage musical Leader of the Pack.
One SNL cast member told the Associated Press that Beatts “brought the toughness of National Lampoon along with her when she wrote on our show. But she didn’t learn it at Lampoon. She already had it. Such a contradiction too because she was a very sweet person.”
She is survived by her daughter Jaylene, her sister Barbara Resucha, and her nieces Jennifer and Kate Dreger.