ZaSu Pitts festival logo 1998

ZaSu Pitts Film Festival

Apr. 24-25, 1998 -- Parsons, Kansas

Held in the centennial year of ZaSu's birth
Labette Community College

Z aSu Pitts was an actress in silent American film, in talking pictures, and on television. 

Born in Parsons, KS--possibily as early as 1884 or as late as 1900. Her birth year is often published as 1898.

She was named after her father's two sisters: EliZa and Susan. Her name is pronounced Say' Zoo.

Raised in Santa Cruz, California, she began her film career at the age of 19 as a supporting player in two successive Mary Pickford films. In 1924 she was a lead in Eric von Stroheim's film, Greed. With the advent of sound she steered her career almost exclusively into light comedy, adding a delightful touch as a scatterbrained comedienne. She is remembered also to1950's television audiences as Gale Storm's side-kick in "Oh, Susanna!"

ZaSu was married twice, had a daughter named Ann, and adopted the son of her beautiful friend, Barbara LaMarr, when Barbara died-- raising him as her own. She has two grandsons. One lives in California and the other lives in Florida.

ZaSu died of cancer in 1963.

These photos were taken at the
ZaSu Pitts Film Festival in Parsons, KS.

Select a photo to see a larger version

ZaSu Lobby Card  Grade-schoolers draw ZaSu  Parsons welcomes guests  We watched ZaSu on 1950's TV


Friday, April 24

  • Registration and Reception 
  • Welcome 
  • "Silent Film Comedy" presented by Sam Gill 
  • "ZaSu Pitts & Mary Pickford" presented by John Tibbetts 
  • The Little Princess -- film presentation 

Saturday, April 25

  • Registration and Memorabilia Exhibit 
  • "Catch As Catch Can"/"Red Noses" -- two short films with Thelma Todd/ZaSu Pitts team 
  • "ZaSu Pitts' Parsons" presented by Randy Roberts 
  • Lunch 
  • Parsons Museum open for tours over lunch break 
  • "McTeague and Greed: Novel into Film" presented by Walter Shear 
  • Greed -- film presentation 
  • Dinner 
  • Reception: Candy Tasting Party (receipes from ZaSu Pitts' book Candy Hits) 
  • Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch -- film presentation 
ZaSu Pitts memoriablia was exhibited throughout the festival, with buttons and teeshirts available for purchase. Selected episodes of The Gale Storm Show (Oh, Susanna!) were included in the exhibit.

Cherryvale depot Parsons is seven miles from Cherryvale, KS--home of two more famous actresses:  Louise Brooks and Vivian Vance. (See below.)

Click on photo to see enlargement.

Labette Community College
200 South 14th, P.O. Box 1037, Parsons, Kansas 67357
Phone: 1-316-421-6700

This program was funded in part by the Kansas Humanities Council, a nonprofit cultural organization encouraging the appreciation of history, heritage and values. Also sponsored by the Parsons Art & Humanities Council

Check these sites for more information:
    Mary Pickford
    Louise Brooks (born in Cherryvale, KS)
    Buster Keaton (born in Piqua, KS)
    Roscoe Arbuckle (born in Smith Center, KS)
    The Silent Era --overview info site about silent film
    Gale Storm

And check the I Love Lucy site for more about Vivan Vance (Ethel Mertz), born in Cherryvale, KS  

© 1998 by Carol Yoho
Visit Acme e-media archive
Send comments about this site