Thursday, December 29, 2005

 

Zasu Who?

She may be all but forgotten now -- and I'm certain the current crop of moviegoers under 35 don't even know who she is -- but for a while, Zasu Pitts was one of the most popular actresses in Hollywood. She had her final role as the crazed switchboard operator in It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (one of my all-time favorite screen comedies), but she was best known for her silent films of the 20s (including Greed and The Wedding March). She was able to make a successful transition to talking films and was in another of my favorite films Ruggles of Red Gap in 1935. In all, she acted in more than 200 productions. The U.S. Post Office issued Pitts a stamp on April 27, 1994, designed by caricaturist Al Hirschfeld. The Hirschfeld set also honored Rudolph Valentino, Clara Bow, Charles Chaplin, Lon Chaney, John Gilbert, Harold Lloyd, Theda Bara, Buster Keaton, and the Keystone Kops. Zasu Pitts has had her own film festival for years, held at Labette Community College in the Spring. So it's nice to see that even into the 2000s, some still remember the contributions of the pioneers of film. And come on, let's face it, once you've heard it, can you forget a name like Zasu Pitts?

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