Short Info

DiedJune 7, 1963, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States
SpouseJohn E. Woodall, Tom Gallery
FactHer first name is pronounced "Zay-soo"

ZaSu Pitts (January 3, 1894 – June 7, 1963) was an American actress who appeared in many silent films and talkies. She is best known for her comic roles in films such as It (1927), The Patsy (1928), and Stella Dallas (1937).

Pitts was born in Parsons, Kansas, to Rulandus and Lizzie Pitts, both of English descent. She had four brothers and sisters. Her father died when she was four years old, and her family moved to Santa Cruz, California, where she was raised.

Pitts began her career as a child actress in the 1910s. She appeared in a number of silent films, including The Little Princess (1917), Stella Dallas (1925), and It (1927). In 1928, she appeared in The Patsy, one of her most famous roles.

Pitts continued to appear in films throughout the 1930s and 1940s. She appeared in such classics as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), and The Miracle Worker (1962). In 1963, she appeared in her final film, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

Pitts was married three times. Her first husband was actor Tom Gallery. They were married from 1919 to 1922 and had one child together, a son named Thomas. Her second husband was actor Frank Faylen. They were married from 1926 to 1934 and had two children together, a son named Frank Jr. and a daughter named Zasu. Her third husband was businessman and investor William A. Leach. They were married from 1945 until Pitts’ death in 1963.

Pitts died of cancer on June 7, 1963, at the age of 69.

General Info

Full NameZaSu Pitts
DiedJune 7, 1963, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States
Height1.68 m
EducationSanta Cruz High School


SpouseJohn E. Woodall, Tom Gallery
ChildrenDonald Michael Gallery, Ann Gallery
ParentsNellie Shay Pitts, Rulandus Pitts


NominationsPrimetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
MoviesGreed, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, All Quiet on the Western Front, Ruggles of Red Gap, The Wedding March, Life with Father, The Little Princess, The Thrill of It All, On the Loose, Dames, The Crooked Circle, Broadway Limited, Sing and Like It, Blondie of the Follies, The Plot Thickens, The Guar...
TV ShowsThe Gale Storm Show

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1I was what they called a feature player, never a star. They say I was in 500 films, everything but the newsreels.
2[on being fired by D.W. Griffith from The Greatest Thing in Life (1918) and having all her scenes cut out because she looked too much like star Lillian Gish] Of course, I was flattered. But I was out of a job again.


1Upon the death of MGM beauty Barbara LaMarr Zasu adopted her orphaned son Don Mike.
2Profiled in the book "Funny Ladies" by Stephen M. Silverman (1999).
3Pitts inadvertently began her career as a comedienne when she was selected by her high school graduation class to recite "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" as a joke. Her attempts to give it a melodramatic reading were met with laughter from students and staff, who thought she was genuinely funny. Although initially embarrassed, she was coaxed to finish it and found that making others laugh was the key to social acceptance for her. The young girl who was previously made fun of by her peers, found acceptance in making them laugh.
4Worked in radio with Lum and Abner.
5Was known for giving speeches as a very conservative Republican and reportedly when Nancy Davis took Ronald Reagan to a speech by Pitts, he switched his allegiance from Democrat Helen Gahagan Douglas to Richard Nixon during the 1950 Senatorial race in California.
6Zasu's career really began when she found her way onto the set of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1917) and was noticed by star Mary Pickford, who put her into the picture as well as her next, The Little Princess (1917) and in husband Douglas Fairbanks' A Modern Musketeer (1917).
7When she met D.W. Griffith, the director rejected her because he said she looked too much like Lillian Gish. Instead of being hurt, Pitts said it was the nicest thing anyone had ever said to her.
8After initially being rejected by the Sennett, Chaplin and Christie studios, the determined Pitts was finally was given a successful screen test and work as a stock player at Universal by the LaSalle and Joker unit.
9In 1958, William Howe and Casey Adams (Max Showalter) wrote "My Square Laddie", a version of "My Fair Lady" with a gender reversed. Miss Pitts, in addition to Reginald Gardner and Nancy Walker, are heard on the musical LP, and could possibly be the only LP album made by the actress.
10Under contract to Hal Roach Studios she made a series of 16 comedy shorts with Thelma Todd in the early 1930s. Unhappy with her contract, like other Roach actors, and with a breakdown in renewal negotiations she was replaced with Patsy Kelly.
11She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6654 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.
12The 1930 Census shows her still living with husband, though reportedly legally separated. It also shows them as the adoptive parents of a boy named Don Mike, who is listed as "child actor".
13Charles Chaplin took an interest in her around 1917 or 1918 during her first brush with popularity. He actually signed her to a six-month contract but never used her.
14A close friend from her high school days was actress Lois Nelson (aka Lois Nelson). They shared a Hollywood apartment while both were fledgling actors.
15According to "Classic Images" biographer Charles Stumpf, she claimed that Rudolph Valentino taught her to dance while appearing together in the film A Society Sensation (1918).
16Was an excellent cook and a collector of candy recipes, which culminated into a cook book entitled "Candy Hits by ZaSu Pitts", which was published posthumously in 1963.
17Her first name is pronounced "Zay-soo"
18Pictured on one of ten 29¢ US commemorative postage stamps celebrating stars of the silent screen, issued 27 April 1994. Designed by caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, this set of stamps also honored Rudolph Valentino, Clara Bow, Charles Chaplin, Lon Chaney, John Gilbert, Harold Lloyd, Theda Bara, Buster Keaton, and the Keystone Kops.
19Following her death, she was interred at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California.
20Her best friend during the 1920s was ill-fated actress Barbara La Marr; the two worked in three films together during 1923. Pitts and her husband Tom Gallery adopted La Marr's son Marvin when she died in 1926. The little boy was renamed Don Gallery.
21Her trademark gesture was seen in all of her fingers aflutter at once.
22Pitts was originally cast to play Lew Ayres' mother in All Quiet on the Western Front (1930). However, preview audiences laughed when they saw her, and her scenes were reshot by actress Beryl Mercer.
23Legally separated from first husband Tom Gallery on November 24, 1926, she did not file for divorce from him until January 14, 1932. The final decree came 10 weeks later.
24When the comic strip "Thimble Theatre" became the animated series "Popeye", the producers used Zasu's hand-wringing and nervous speech pattern to characterize the on-screen persona of Olive Oyl.
25The favorite actress of Erich von Stroheim, who called her "the greatest tragedienne of the screen".
26Her marriage to John Woodall was not revealed to the public until February 12, 1934 when they went on their honeymoon.
27Director Alfred E. Green once said her face "has been on more cutting-room floors than any other actress". She was a famous scene-stealer who often overshadowed the star. Her scenes were usually cut to keep peace on the set.
28Named "Zasu" because her mother's two sisters, Eliza and Susan, both wanted her named after them. Her mother did not want to disappoint either of them, so she formed the name from the last two letters of Eliza and the first two letters of Susan.




It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World1963Gertie - Switchboard Operator
Burke's Law1963TV SeriesMrs. Bowie
The Thrill of It All1963Olivia
Perry Mason1962TV SeriesDaphne Whilom
Teenage Millionaire1961Aunt Theodora
Guestward Ho!1961TV Series
The Jim Backus Show1961TV SeriesMinnie Morgan
The Dennis O'Keefe Show1960TV SeriesLoretta Kimball
The Gale Storm Show: Oh! Susanna1956-1960TV SeriesElvira Nugent / Elvira 'Nugey' Nugent / Elvira (Nugey) Nugent
This Could Be the Night1957Mrs. Katie Shea - Landlady
Private Secretary1957TV SeriesAunt Martha
The Red Skelton Hour1956TV SeriesMa Raspin
The 20th Century-Fox Hour1956TV SeriesMiss Appleton
Screen Directors Playhouse1955TV SeriesSelma
The Best of Broadway1954TV SeriesMiss Preen
Kraft Theatre1954TV Series
Francis Joins the WACS1954Lt. Valerie Humpert
General Electric Theater1954TV SeriesAunt Laura
Denver and Rio Grande1952Jane Dwyer
Francis1950Nurse Valerie Humpert
The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse1949TV SeriesBelinda Pryde
The Chevrolet Tele-Theatre1948TV Series
Life with Father1947Cora
The Perfect Marriage1947Rosa
Breakfast in Hollywood1946Elvira Spriggens
Dear Miss Gloria1946ShortGuest star (uncredited)
Let's Face It1943Cornelia Figeson
Tish1942Aggie Pilkington (as ZaSu Pitts)
So's Your Aunt Emma!1942Aunt Emma Bates
The Bashful Bachelor1942Geraldine (as ZaSu Pitts)
Mexican Spitfire at Sea1942Miss Pepper
Uncle Joe1941Julia Jordan - the Widow
The Mexican Spitfire's Baby1941Miss Emily Pepper
Miss Polly1941Miss Pandora Polly
Weekend for Three1941Anna
Niagara Falls1941Emmy Sawyer
Broadway Limited1941Myra
No, No, Nanette1940Pauline Hastings
It All Came True1940Miss Flint
Eternally Yours1939Mrs. Cary Bingham
Nurse Edith Cavell1939Mme. Moulin
Mickey the Kid1939Lilly Handy
Naughty But Nice1939Aunt Penelope Hardwick
The Lady's from Kentucky1939Dulcey Lee
52nd Street1937Letitia Rondell
Forty Naughty Girls1937Hildegarde Withers
Merry Comes to Town1937Winnie Oatfield
Wanted!1937Winnie Oatfield
Sing Me a Love Song1936Gwen Logan
The Plot Thickens1936Hildegarde Withers
Mad Holiday1936Mrs. Faye Kinney
13 Hours by Air1936Miss Harkins
The Affair of Susan1935Susan Todd
Hot Tip1935Belle McGill
She Gets Her Man1935Esmeralda
Going Highbrow1935Mrs. Upshaw
Spring Tonic1935Maggie Conklin
Ruggles of Red Gap1935Prunella Judson (as ZaSu Pitts)
The Gay Bride1934Mirabelle
Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch1934Miss Hazy (as ZaSu Pitts)
Their Big Moment1934Tillie Whim
Private Scandal1934Miss Coates (as ZaSu Pitts)
Love Birds1934Araminta Tootle
Sing and Like It1934Annie Snodgrass
Three on a Honeymoon1934Alice Mudge
Two Alone1934Esthey Roberts
The Meanest Gal in Town1934Tillie Prescott
Mr. Skitch1933Mrs. Maddie Skitch
Meet the Baron1933Zasu - Upstairs Maid
Aggie Appleby Maker of Men1933Sybby 'Sib'
Love, Honor and Oh Baby!1933Connie Clark
I've Got to Sing a Torch Song1933Short
Her First Mate1933Mary Horner
Professional Sweetheart1933Elmerada de Leon
One Track Minds1933Short
Hello, Sister!1933Millie
Out All Night1933Bunny
The Bargain of the Century1933ShortZasu Pittts
Maids a la Mode1933ShortMiss Pitts
Asleep in the Feet1933ShortZasu
They Just Had to Get Married1932Molly Hull
Sneak Easily1932ShortMiss Zasu Pitts - Woman of the Jury
Madison Sq. Garden1932Florrie
The Soilers1932ShortZasu
Once in a Lifetime1932Miss Leyton
The Crooked Circle1932Nora Rafferty
Alum and Eve1932ShortZasu
Back Street1932Mrs. Dole
Blondie of the Follies1932Gertie
Show Business1932ShortZasu
The Vanishing Frontier1932Aunt Sylvia (as ZaSu Pitts)
Roar of the Dragon1932Gabby Woman
Make Me a Star1932Mrs. Scudder (as ZaSu Pitts)
Is My Face Red?1932Morning Gazette Telephone Operator
The Old Bull1932ShortZasu
Westward Passage1932Mrs. Truesdale
Strangers of the Evening1932Sybil Smith
The Trial of Vivienne Ware1932Gladys Fairweather
Strictly Unreliable1932ShortPitts
Destry Rides Again1932Temperance Worker
Red Noses1932ShortMiss Pitts
Steady Company1932Dot
Sealskins1932ShortZasu Pitts
Broken Lullaby1932Anna, Holderlin's Maid
The Unexpected Father1932Polly Perkins
On the Loose1931ShortZasu Pitts
The Secret Witness1931Bella
War Mamas1931ShortZasu
The Guardsman1931Liesl
Penrod and Sam1931Mrs. Bassett
The Pajama Party1931ShortZasu
The Big Gamble1931Nora
Catch-As Catch-Can1931ShortZasu
Their Mad Moment1931Miss Dibbs
A Woman of Experience1931Katie
Let's Do Things1931ShortZasu Pitts
Beyond Victory1931'Mlle' Fritzi Mobley (as ZaSu Pitts)
The Bad Sister1931Minnie
Finn and Hattie1931Mrs. Haddock
Passion Flower1930Mrs. Harney
Free Love1930Ada, the Maid
Sin Takes a Holiday1930Annie
River's End1930Louise
The Lottery Bride1930Hilda
War Nurse1930Cushie
Monte Carlo1930Bertha
The Squealer1930Bella
The Little Accident1930Monica
The Devil's Holiday1930Ethel
All Quiet on the Western Front1930Frau Bäumer - Silent Version Trailer only (scenes deleted)
No, No, Nanette1930Pauline Hastings
This Thing Called Love1929Clara Bertrand
The Locked Door1929Telephone Girl (as Zazu Pitts)
Oh, Yeah?1929The Elk
Her Private Life1929Timmins
The Argyle Case1929Mrs. Wyatt
Twin Beds1929Tillie
The Squall1929Lena
The Dummy1929Rose Gleason
Sunlight1928ShortThe Younger Sister
The Honeymoon1928Caecilia
Sins of the Fathers1928Mother Spengler
The Wedding March1928Cecelia Schweisser
Buck Privates1928Hulda
13 Washington Square1928Mathilde
Wife Savers1928Germaine
Casey at the Bat1927Camille Gibson
Her Big Night1926Gladys Smith
Risky Business1926Agnes Wheaton
Sunny Side Up1926Evelyn
Early to Wed1926Mrs. Dugan
Monte Carlo1926Hope Durant
What Happened to Jones1926Hilda (as Zazu Pitts)
Mannequin1926Annie Pogani
The Great Love1925Nancy
Wages for Wives1925Luella Logan
Lazybones1925Ruth Fanning
Thunder Mountain1925Mandy Coulter
The Business of Love1925Miss Wright
A Woman's Faith1925Blanche Odile
Pretty Ladies1925Maggie Keenan
Old Shoes1925
The Re-Creation of Brian Kent1925Judy
The Great Divide1925Polly Jordan
Sunlight of Paris1924
Secrets of the Night1924Celia Stebbins
The Fast Set1924Mona
Wine of Youth1924Lucy (scenes deleted)
Legend of Hollywood1924Mary Brown
Changing Husbands1924Delia
Triumph1924A Factory Girl
The Goldfish1924Amelia Pugsley
Daughters of Today1924Lorena
West of the Water Tower1923Dessie Arnhalt
Tea: With a Kick!1923'Brainy' Jones
Three Wise Fools1923Mickey
Mary of the Movies1923Zasu Pitts (uncredited)
The Girl Who Came Back1923Anastasia Muldoon
Poor Men's Wives1923Apple Annie
A Daughter of Luxury1922Mary Cosgrove
Youth to Youth1922Emily
For the Defense1922Jennie Dunn
Is Matrimony a Failure?1922Mrs. Wilbur
Seeing It Through1920Betty Lawrence
Heart of Twenty1920Katie Abbott
Bright Skies1920Sally
Poor Relations1919Daisy Perkins
The Other Half1919Jennie Jones, The Jazz Kid
Better Times1919Nancy Scroggs
Men, Women, and Money1919Katie Jones
As the Sun Went Down1919Sal Sue
A Lady's Name1918Emily
The Greatest Thing in Life1918scenes deleted
The Talk of the Town1918
A Society Sensation1918ShortMary
The Pie Eyed Piper1918ShortThe Fair Ellen
How Could You, Jean?1918Oscar's Sweetheart
Good Night, Paul1918Undetermined Role (unconfirmed)
Who's Your Wife?1918Short
A Modern Musketeer1917A Kansas Belle (uncredited)
The Little Princess1917Becky
'49-'171917Party Guest (uncredited)
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm1917Undetermined Role (uncredited)
Why They Left Home1917ShortMary Mandrake
Behind the Map1917Short
O-My the Tent Mover1917Short
The Battling Bellboy1917Short
Canning the Cannibal King1917Short
He Had 'em Buffaloed1917ShortHepsabiah Hardlot
Discords in 'A' Flat1917Short
His Fatal Beauty1917ShortPerscilla
A Desert Dilemma1917Short
Tillie of the Nine Lives1917Short
Uneasy Money1917ShortSuza - the Editor's Assistant


Sing Me a Love Song1936performer: "Chopsticks" 1877, "Carry Me Back to the Lone Prairie" 1933 - uncredited
Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch1934performer: "Beulah Land" 1876, "Comin' Thro' the Rye" - uncredited
Sing and Like It1934performer: "Your Mother"
Honey1930performer: "Let's Be Domestic"


Here's Hollywood1962TV SeriesHerself
Disneyland '591959TV Movie documentaryHerself
The Spike Jones Show1954TV SeriesHerself
The Name's the Same1952TV SeriesHerself - Contestant
I've Got a Secret1952TV SeriesHerself - Mystery Guest
What's My Line?1952TV SeriesHerself - Mystery Guest
Texaco Star Theatre1950TV SeriesHerself
Screen Snapshots Series 15, No. 9 - A Day at the Races1936Documentary shortHerself
Screen Snapshots Series 10, No. 61931ShortHerself
A Trip Through the Paramount Studio1927Documentary shortHerself
1925 Studio Tour1925Documentary shortHerself
Screen Snapshots, Series 4, No. 21923Documentary shortHerself (as Zazu Pitts)
Souls for Sale1923Herself - Celebrity Actress in Commissary
Screen Snapshots, Series 1, No. 141920Documentary shortHerself

Archive Footage

America's Clown: An Intimate Biography of Red Skelton2014VideoHerself
The Naked Archaeologist2008TV SeriesTillie Prescott / Screaming Woman
Hal Roach: Hollywood's King of Laughter1994TV Movie documentaryHerself
Hollywood1980TV Mini-Series documentaryActress 'Greed'
The Big Parade of Comedy1964DocumentaryMirabelle in 'The Gay Bride'
Screen Snapshots: Memories of Famous Hollywood Comedians1952Documentary shortHerself
Screen Snapshots: Hollywood Party1948ShortHerself
And She Learned About Dames1934ShortHerself (uncredited)


Won Awards

1960Star on the Walk of FameWalk of FameMotion PictureOn 8 February 1960. At 6554 Hollywood Blvd.

Nominated Awards

1959Primetime EmmyPrimetime Emmy AwardsBest Supporting Actress (Continuing Character) in a Comedy SeriesThe Gale Storm Show: Oh! Susanna (1956)

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

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