Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Zasu Pitts: There's an Explanation for That

"ZaSu Pitts" Biography

"According to her own account, actress ZaSu Pitts was given her curious cognomen because she was named for two aunts, Eliza and Susan. Born in Kansas, Pitts moved with her family to California, where at age 19 she began her film career. Her first starring role was as an ugly duckling who finds true love in 1919's Better Times. Her calculated vagueness and fluttery hand gestures earned Pitts comedy roles from the outset, but director Erich Von Stroheim saw dramatic potential in the young actress. He cast her as the grasping, money-mad wife in his masterpiece Greed (1924), and she rose to the occasion...."

allmovie's biography includes embedded links to their pages on movies and other people involved in Zasu Pitts' career.

About the odd capitalization in Zasu Pitt's name? The Lemming's seen it written both ways in competently-presented biographies, and decided to go with the conventional presentation, with one capital letter at the start of the name.

Another online biography of Zasu Pitts has a different writing style, a different, and smaller, selection of information: but does have some photos. And a quote:
"ZaSu Pitts (1894-1963)"

" 'I was what they called a feature player, never a star. They say I was in 500 films, everything but the newsreels.' - ZaSu Pitts

"The character actress ZaSu Pitts was born in Parsons, Kansas on January 3rd, 1894. Her first name ZaSu was derived from a combination of names of two of her aunts on her father's side, Eliza and Susan. ZaSu received her education in Santa Cruz, California. She worked for many studios, including Universal, Metro, and Famous Players-Lasky, appearing in many of their features and comedies. Some films of note for ZaSu were 1917's 'The Little Princess' and 'Rebecca Of Sunnybrook Farm', both opposite Mary Pickford...."

IMDb.com includes 217 of her films in her bio's filmography:
"Zasu Pitts (1894–1963)"

According to IMDb, her name didn't show up in the credits for "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm," she had an "undetermined role," and her first screen appearance was in "Uneasy Money," a 1917 short.

There's only so much that will fit on one readable page online: reducing a career that lasted about a half-century, heavy editing is needed.

Zasu Pitts didn't let cancer keep her from acting: although apparently it slowed her down:
"...ZaSu Pitts died in 1963, shortly after completing her final film appearance in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) and just a few days after her last TV guest assignment on Burke's Law."

The Lemming's hat is off to Zasu Pitts: who made the transitions from silent to sound movies, and television. Not everybody was able to do that.


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