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Zasu Pitts

She was a popular character actress during the Thirties, making both features and shorts for Hal Roach. Her willowy spinster persona was the inspiration for the voice of Olive Oyl in Max Fleischer's Popeye cartoons.

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17 old time radio show recordings
(total playtime 9 hours, 45 min)
available in the following formats:

1 MP3 CD
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12 Audio CDs


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Play a sample episode from July 04, 1937:

"Chase and Sanborn Hour guest star Zazu Pitts"



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About this Old Time Radio Show

Text on OTRCAT.com ©2001-2017 OTRCAT INC All Rights Reserved. Reproduction is prohibited.


Zasu PittsName changes in Hollywood are as common as starlets hoping for their big break. To outsiders, there seems to be something slightly disturbing that changing one's name just to work in the movies is practically a requirement, but there are some practical reasons behind the tradition. Name changes began at the insistence of the studio publicity departments whenever a new talent showed up with a handle that was too long, too foreign, or too frumpy to go on a marquee. There is also a rule in the Screen Actors Guild (and in many other acting unions) bylaws that states no two members may have the same working name. Since all the studios work with SAG, a name change is nearly inevitable unless you were given a truly unique handle as a child. Such was the case of ZaSu Pitts.

Rulandus Pitts was hit in his right knee at Gettysburg while serving with the 76th New York Infantry. As the Confederates advanced, Pitts was also injured in the shoulder and left for dead. Because of the delay in treating his injuries, his leg had to be amputated above the knee and he eventually lost the use of his right hand but he continued to serve in the Commissary Corp until he was mustered out in July 1864. He settled in Parson, Kansas, in the early 1880s and married Nelly Shay with whom he had two sons and two daughters. When the youngest daughter was born in 1894, a bitter fight broke out between Nelly's spinster sisters, both insisting the girl should be given her name. Nelly kept the peace by giving her the name Eliza Susan, which she shortened to ZaSu.

By the time ZaSu was nine, the growing family was having trouble making ends meet on Rulandus' pension so the family moved to Santa Cruz, California (getting away from the spinster Shay sisters may have been a factor, as well). The family home at 208 Lincoln St still stands, and eventually, ZaSu attended Santa Cruz High School where she got involved in amateur theater. Screenwriter Frances Marion, who also grew up in the area, saw one of ZaSu's performances and Frances helped her to get a small part in one of her friend Mary Pickford's films. Pickford, for many years the reigning "Queen of Hollywood" and whose given name was Gladys Smith, took a liking to ZaSu but pointed out that she was doomed to have it mispronounced. "How right she was", Pitts later wrote, pointing out that the pronunciation should be "Say-Zoo".

Zasu PittsZaSu worked her way up from extra to more substantial parts. Her expressive doe eyes made her a natural comedian, so Hollywood was shocked when von Stroheim chose her for the lead in his epic Greed (1924). Originally a 9 1/2 hour film, it was a box office failure when it was released after being cut to less than two hours (a four hour re-edited version has resurfaced and is gaining recognition as a cinematic masterwork, the original uncut film is lost and considered the Holy Grail of lost films). Pitts went back to making comedies and easily made the transition to talkies. Getting back into dramatic roles was not so easy. She was filmed in the lead of All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) and reportedly turned in a fine bit of acting. However, when the very serious film was previewed, the audience began snickering as soon as ZaSu's face appeared on the screen. Her scenes were reshot with Beryl Mercer before release.

She was a popular character actress during the 1930s, making both features and shorts for Hal Roach. Her willowy spinster persona was the inspiration for the voice of Olive Oyl in Max Fleischer's Popeye cartoons. She continued to work through the Forties by transitioning to radio, trading laughs with Bing Crosby, Rudy Vallee, and appearing occasionally on Fibber McGee and Molly. Her character acting background served her well as she moved into television, but declining health became the dominant issue in her life during the late Fifties.

ZaSu had an enthusiastic sweet tooth, and her recipe book, Candy Hits by ZaSu Pitts was published shortly after her death. A Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was dedicated honoring her contributions to Motion Pictures at 6654 Hollywood Blvd on February 8, 1960. Her last role was as the confused Santa Rosita Police Department switchboard operator in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963). ZaSu Pitts succumbed to cancer on June 7, 1963. She was 69.

Text on OTRCAT.com ©2001-2017 OTRCAT INC All Rights Reserved. Reproduction is prohibited.

These classic recordings are available in the following formats:
  • MP3 CDs are delivered by mail. These archival quality MP3 CDs are playable in your computer and many MP3 player devices.



    17 recordings on 1 MP3 CD for just $4.50
    total playtime 9 hours, 45 min
    Add MP3 Collection to Cart

    Click here to see disc contents


      17 shows - total playtime 9 hours 45 minutes
      1. Bakers Broadcast 371107 Ralph Belamy.mp3
      2. Chase And Sanborn Hour 370704 09 Zazu Pitts.mp3
      3. Fibber Mcgee And Molly 390207 0191 Faulty Window Shade.mp3
      4. Fibber Mcgee And Molly 390221 Dinner Speaker Rotowantis.mp3
      5. Fibber Mcgee And Molly 390307 0195 Mcgees Hamburger Joint.mp3
      6. Fibber Mcgee And Molly 390321 0197 Spring Haircut.mp3
      7. Fibber Mcgee And Molly 390411 0200 Mailman.mp3
      8. Francis Interview With Zazu Pitts.mp3
      9. Hollywood's Open House 43 Cleopatra Jackie Gleason.mp3
      10. Kraft Music Hall 370527 How Could You, Gail Patrick.mp3
      11. Life With Luigi 490403 029 Luigi Tries To Return Nightgown.mp3
      12. Life With Luigi 490424 032 Luigi Gets Big Electric Bill.mp3
      13. Lux Radio Theater 351028 Dulcy.mp3
      14. Lux Radio Theater 390710 Ruggles Of Red Gap.mp3
      15. Quaker Party 391001 Zasu Pitts.mp3
      16. Rudy Vallee Royal Gelatin Hour 380818 Walter Hampden.mp3
      17. Screen Guild Theater 391008 025 Revue, Connie Boswell.mp3
  • MP3 downloads are available instantly after purchase!



    17 recordings on 1 MP3 Collection Download for just $4.50
    total playtime 9 hours, 45 min
    Add MP3 Collection to Cart

    Click here to see disc contents


      17 shows - total playtime 9 hours 45 minutes
      1. Bakers Broadcast 371107 Ralph Belamy.mp3
      2. Chase And Sanborn Hour 370704 09 Zazu Pitts.mp3
      3. Fibber Mcgee And Molly 390207 0191 Faulty Window Shade.mp3
      4. Fibber Mcgee And Molly 390221 Dinner Speaker Rotowantis.mp3
      5. Fibber Mcgee And Molly 390307 0195 Mcgees Hamburger Joint.mp3
      6. Fibber Mcgee And Molly 390321 0197 Spring Haircut.mp3
      7. Fibber Mcgee And Molly 390411 0200 Mailman.mp3
      8. Francis Interview With Zazu Pitts.mp3
      9. Hollywood's Open House 43 Cleopatra Jackie Gleason.mp3
      10. Kraft Music Hall 370527 How Could You, Gail Patrick.mp3
      11. Life With Luigi 490403 029 Luigi Tries To Return Nightgown.mp3
      12. Life With Luigi 490424 032 Luigi Gets Big Electric Bill.mp3
      13. Lux Radio Theater 351028 Dulcy.mp3
      14. Lux Radio Theater 390710 Ruggles Of Red Gap.mp3
      15. Quaker Party 391001 Zasu Pitts.mp3
      16. Rudy Vallee Royal Gelatin Hour 380818 Walter Hampden.mp3
      17. Screen Guild Theater 391008 025 Revue, Connie Boswell.mp3
  • Standard Audio CDs are delivered by mail on archival quality media with up to 60 minutes on each CD and play in all CD players



    17 recordings on 12 Audio CDs
    total playtime 9 hours, 45 min

    Zasu Pitts Disc A001

    1. Francis Interview With Zazu Pitts
    2. Hollywood's Open House 43 Cleopatra Jackie Gleason

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Zasu Pitts Disc A002

    1. Lux Radio Theater 351028 Dulcy

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Zasu Pitts Disc A003

    1. Kraft Music Hall 370527 How Could You, Gail Patrick

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Zasu Pitts Disc A004

    1. Chase And Sanborn Hour 370704 09 Zazu Pitts

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Zasu Pitts Disc A005

    1. Bakers Broadcast 371107 Ralph Belamy

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Zasu Pitts Disc A006

    1. Rudy Vallee Royal Gelatin Hour 380818 Walter Hampden

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Zasu Pitts Disc A007

    1. Fibber Mcgee And Molly 390207 0191 Faulty Window Shade
    2. Fibber Mcgee And Molly 390221 Dinner Speaker Rotowantis

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Zasu Pitts Disc A008

    1. Fibber Mcgee And Molly 390307 0195 Mcgees Hamburger Joint
    2. Fibber Mcgee And Molly 390321 0197 Spring Haircut

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Zasu Pitts Disc A009

    1. Fibber Mcgee And Molly 390411 0200 Mailman

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Zasu Pitts Disc A010

    1. Lux Radio Theater 390710 Ruggles Of Red Gap

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Zasu Pitts Disc A011

    1. Quaker Party 391001 Zasu Pitts
    2. Screen Guild Theater 391008 025 Revue, Connie Boswell
    3. Life With Luigi 490403 029 Luigi Tries To Return Nightgown

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Zasu Pitts Disc A012

    1. Life With Luigi 490424 032 Luigi Gets Big Electric Bill

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00

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