Shop by the Stars aisle featuring ZaSu Pitts (1894-1963) vintage movie cards, still photos, ephemera, and other collectibles.
Born Eliza Susan Pitts in Parsons, KS, she's said to have taken the name ZaSu from the last two letters of her Aunt Eliza's name, and the first two of her Aunt Susan—though you can cobble the same from ZaSu's own given name, also honoring her aunts. Her family moved to California and Pitts attended Santa Cruz High School, where she first took an interest in the stage. She appeared in a number of one-reelers in 1917, did a few feature bits and, more notably, had a billed role in The Little Princess (1917) starring Mary Pickford that same year. Pitts had her first lead in King Vidor's Better Times (1919), but her most important role during the silent era came in Erich Von Stroheim's Greed (1924), where she gives a stunning dramatic portrayal as McTeague's miserly wife. This was not anything like the ZaSu Pitts performances we generally remember today. ZaSu of the talkies is the madcap lady with the funny voice who, early in the '30s, appeared in a series of Hal Roach shorts alongside Thelma Todd, and carved out a career as the zany supporting sidekick in over 100 additional feature films from just 1930 until her death. Top talkie titles for Pitts include: The Guardsman (1931), Make Me a Star (1932), Dames (1934), and Ruggles of Red Gap (1935), then later—after some time on the radio and Broadway success in Ramshackle Inn (1944)—she was back to the movies in Life With Father (1947) and Francis (1950). Pitts did a lot of TV during the 1950s, and many a boomer remembers her best as Elvira Nugent from 1956-60 on The Gale Storm Show. Her final film appearance came in It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963), released shortly after her death at age 69.
Birthday: January 3