Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Mieography

My friday lady has a very unusual name.
Zazu Pitts, to be specific.
She got her name because her mother had 2 female relatives (Eliza, and Susan) who wanted her to name her baby after them. So she put their names together. (Anyone curious about the correct way to pronounce it? "Zay-sue".)
She was born in Kansas in 1894, the third of four children to Rulandus and Nellie Pitts. Her father was a native New Yorker, who lost one of his legs in the Civil War. By the time she was nine years old, her family moved again, to Santa Cruz, California, seeking a warmer clime, and better job opportunities. Her childhood home still stands there.
She attended Santa Cruz High School, and though shy, she joined the drama department.
She made her stage debut in 1915, and was discovered by a pioneer screenwriter two years later. She made her debut in "The Little Princess", staring Mary Pickford, that same year. She gained more and more popularity, doing a series of comedies for Universal Studios, where she met and married Tom Gallery, a matinee idol, whom she ended up being paired with in many films. They had a daughter, Ann, in 1922.
In 1924, she was given a role in a tragedy, called Greed. It failed miserably in the box office, but has gained respect over time, once recut to include some of the NINE hours that was cut from the original film.
Her greatest fame came in the 1930's, starring in B movies, and comedy shorts. She also ended up playing "second banana" a lot. She began to trade off doing comedy shorts and features, and earned some respect doing drama, as well. Sound was an easy transition for her, and her sucess continued with the "talkies". During the 40's she also toured Vaudeville, and worked on the radio. In 1944, she made her debut on Broadway, as well. The play, a mystery, was called "Ramshackle Inn", and was written especially for her. She took the play on the road for many years.
Her last role, before she died, was in 1963, in "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
She died, from cancer at age 69 in Hollywood, after a long, fruitful career.
She has a street in Las Vegas named after her, a Hollywood Walk of Fame Star, and she has been on a Postage Stamp. She was also known for being an excellent cook, and a collector of candy recipes. She even wrote a candy cookbook. I count her as to being in 206 films....


sybil law said...

That name is sweet, but her dad's name was crazy!
Good one - I'd never heard of her, even though of course I've seen, "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"!

Jo Beaufoix said...

She sounds lovely, but I'm wth Sybil, her dad sounds like some kind of mouldy cheese. :D

Daryl said...

I had no idea she died so young ... I remember her in many movies being the ditsy comedy relief .. she was funny!


holly said...

she looks really familiar, like the template funny-woman-from-older-movies.


Bubblewench said...

never heard of her.. fantastic lady! Thanks!