ZaSu Pitts was an American actress who starred in many silent dramas and comedies, although later, her career digressed to comedy sound films. She overcame her looks and voice, which had served her in silent films to play dramatic roles, using them to craft her persona in talkie comedies.
ZaSu Pitts was born in Parsons, Kansas to Rulandus and Nellie 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 mother's sisters Eliza and Susan became the basis for ZaSu's unique first name, which has been spelled as Zazu Pitts or Zasu Pitts in many film credits and articles. Though the name is commonly mispronounced, , or, in her 1963 book Candy Hits, Pitts herself gives the correct pronunciation as "Say Zoo", recounting that Mary Pickford predicted, "any will mispronounce it", and adding, "How right 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. She attended Santa Cruz High School, where she participated in school theatricals.