ZaSu Pitts

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

Zasu Pitts and Mary Pickford In The Little Princess 1917

She starred in Erich Von Stroheims (creepy butler in Sunset Blvd) Greed and The Wedding March and also in stroheims failed attempt into talkies 1933's Hello Sister!. ZaSu on the other hand made the tranision into talkies very well and came into her own as a comedienne character actress. 
Her name is Pronounced Zay - Sooo, after watching a short with Zay - Sooo and Thelma Todd, Thelma todd repeats her name on numerous accounts in different locations its very amusing and is a good way to get an unusual name to be name stuck into ones mind..
Anyway, ZaSu had a very long career in films and she worked right upon her death in 1963 her appearance in It's A Mad Mad World was her last, which she co starred along side a large batch of other popular actors.Below is the picture to exlain the ZaSu maths. the names Eliza and Susan belong to family members who wanted ZaSu to be named after them. 
Her quote above definitly rings true in some cases. Her 1924 film Greed which she stars along side Gibson Glowand, Greed is the film that made me know that ZaSu Pitts existed. Greed is one of the most famous lost films ever and it has a plot which is very much relevent today. ZaSu plays a wife to a dentist who wins a lotto ticket and becomes obsessed with money and this greed eventually ruins the lives of her and her husband. The original length of this silent film masterpiece was 10hours. But of course it was shortened, this is usually the case in film masterpieces like Orson Welles's The Lady From Shanghai. I guess the studio bosses didn't realize that the films being made were going to go down in history as masterpieces. Its a terrible shame. Today the film has been restored to a long 240 minutes but the restoration are just pictures of the prints not moving images, similar to the ones done in George Cukors "A Star Is Born".

Left: ZaSu the greedy wife Trina and Centre Gibson Glowand as her generally good natured dentist husband.
Stroheim called ZaSu The Greatest dramatic actress or something along those lines.
Trina and her gold-mine (From Greed)


Anonymous said...

There is a book about ZaSu coming out October 30, so check out Amazon for that one.

Matthew Coniam said...

Yes, Thelma always calls her 'Zay -su', but everyone else I've ever heard says 'Zah -su'. I've always thought that it was a joke the way Thelma says it, like she's trying to be posh or something.
Incidentally - don't you just love those Todd-Pitts-Kelly shorts???