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Zasu Pitts (1894-1963)

  1. Beryl Mercer, All Quiet on the Western Front, 1930.      Directors have to begin somewhere...   George Cukor was dialogue coach and Fred Zinnemann an extra when Erich von Stroheim’s "greatest tragedienne of the screen" of the 20s was laughed off the screen as Lew Ayres' mother. Because of her fame as half of a female Laurel and Hardy coupling with Thelma Todd for Hal Roach in the 30s. Zasu’s scenes were   quickly re-shot   by Lewis Milestone. 
  2. Katharine Alexander, The Great Man Votes, 1938.      Another of those simple paragraphs… Pitts and Victor Moore (Marilyn’s plumber in The Seven Year Itch, 1954) became Alexander and John Barrymore in the RKO B. Alexander was renowned for playing women of the long suffering variety. Must have have said so on her CV
  3. Judith Anderson,  And Then There Were None, 1944.   Agatha Christie refused use of the title of her book and London/Broadway play, Ten Little Indians, for French realisateur Rene Clair’s final Hollywood film. Pitts was signed in August and then… not.
  4. Lilian Gish,  The Night of the Hunter, 1955.      Directing his sole   film   (a  flop  turned classic cult),   Charles   Laughton almost dutifully offered the role to his wife Elsa Lanchester.   She called it "a touching, delicate thing, a beautiful part" but wanted nothing of his hypersensitivity or that of his producer. She suggested   Zasu. "But she was was associated with fun and humour and audiences would be inclined to giggle. Then I suggested Lilian Gish." 


 





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