ZaSu Pitts

ZaSu Pitts ( /ˈseɪzuː ˈpɪts/; January 3, 1894 – June 7, 1963) was an American actress who starred in many silent dramas and comedies, transitioning to comedy sound films. Pitts was born in Parsons, Kansas, to Rulandus and Nellie (née Shay) Pitts; she was the third of four children. Her father, who had lost a leg while serving in the 76th New York Infantry Regiment in the Civil War, had settled the family in Kansas by the time ZaSu was born. The names of her father's sisters, Eliza and Susan, became the basis for ZaSu's unique first name, which has been (incorrectly) spelled as Zazu Pitts in many film credits and articles. Though the name is commonly mispronounced /ˈzæzuː/ ZAZ-oo or /ˈzeɪsuː/ ZAY-soo, or /ˈzeɪzuː/ ZAY-zoo, in her 1963 book Candy Hits (p. 15), Pitts herself gives the correct pronunciation as "Say Zoo" (/ˈseɪzuː/), recounting that Mary Pickford predicted, "[M]any will mispronounce it," and adding, "How right [she] was." In 1903, when she was nine years old, the family moved to Santa Cruz, California, seeking a warmer climate and better job opportunities. Her childhood home at 208 Lincoln Street still stands.


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