Friday, February 17, 2012


Thelma Todd did some work in radio. Her film series with Zasu Pitts spun off into a daily radio program in 1932.

Zasu Pitts and Thelma Todd

Here are a few newspaper articles about the radio show from G. D. Hamann's THELMA TODD IN THE THIRTIES.

2-25-32 EHE Jimmy Star 

Zasu Pitts and Thelma Todd are slated to make funny remarks over the radio this week.

2-26-32 EHE Radio by Eugene Inge

Zasu Pitts and Thelma Todd, one of the leading comedy teams in motion pictures, will begin a series of broadcasts Saturday at 6:45 pm over KNX. Patrons may see the act in an improvised studio located in the basement of the Arcade Building every night except Sunday at the same time.

The locale of the broadcast will be placed in a Hollywood boarding house, with Miss Pitts as the maid, and Miss Todd as a young lady just arrived in Hollywood with moving picture ambitions.

2-27-32 IDN Radio Kenneth Frogley

More movie people go radio tonight as the comedy team of Zasu Pitts and Thelma Todd begin a series of programs, restaurant sponsored, over KNX at 6:45.

Thelma Todd made some other broadcasts in addition to the series with Zasu Pitts. Here are a couple of items about the 1933 broadcase commemorating Hal Roach's 20th anniversary in the movie business.

12-8-33 EHE Jimmy Star

Speaking of Hal Roach - well, here's a chap who knows how to toss a Hollywood party. Last Night Hal celebrated his twentieth anniversary in the movie business. An entire stage was transferred into a gorgeous dining and dance palace. All of the important celebs of the movie game attended. Louis B. Mayer, Will Rogers, Jean Harlow, Henry Ginsbert ( sic ), Charley Chase, Thelma Todd, Patsy Kelly and others made humorous remarks via the radio and loud speaker. It was a grand affair, really.

12-9-3 LAX Louella Parsons

The speeches at the Hal Roach dinner, including Will Rogers' witticisms, were all over in half an hour.Maybe that's one reason the Roach anniversary dinner was voted such a success; long-winded speeches have gone out of fashion. Hal, presented with a huge cake, asked that it be given to the Children's hospital; Thelma Todd smothered in orchids; Pat Paterson ( sic ) English Actress, escorted by Frank Orsatti; Miss Paterson, petite blonde and very cute, saying that it was she who went stepping with Nigel Bruce and not Mrs. Bruce; the latter is in England. Mrs. Harold Lloyd has dwindled down to a mere hundred five pounds; you would hardly know her, she is so thin; Will Rogers, Harold Lloyd, Bebe Daniels, Jean Harlow amoung the ex-Roach players who recieved their first film education via the Roach custard pie route. All of them at the Roach party; Wallace Beery on hand with a new mustache; Mrs. Eddie Mannix*, complimented on a swank ermine and velvet evening wrap, said she felt she ought to hand it to Mrs. Rapf, who was left coatless through the $58,000 robbery at the Rapf home; Mary Pickford saying au revoir to her friends until after Christmas.

                                                *                          *                          *             

Station KFVD was located on the Roach lot. Thelma Todd made some broadcasts there as did some of Roach's other stars, including Laurel and Hardy and the "Our Gang" kids.. Some of these were evidently informal sorts of appearances that they just did because they were there and had a chance.

Zasu Pitts was popular on the radio as well as in the movies. She appeared several times on the earliest Fibber McGee and Molly show, playing a dizzy dame constantly looking for a husband.
 She also appeared several times on "Lum and Abner".

When the studio replaced Zasu Pitts with Patsy Kelly, the new team did not have a radio program together. But one of their short subjects was set in a radio studio, SLIGHTLY STATIC, which was made in 1935. This film also featured Roy Rogers in one of his first movie appearances, along with "The Sons Of The Pioneers", a singing group that he started out with.

Thelma Todd and Patsy Kelly in SLIGHTLY STATIC

Patsy Kelly and Jerry Colona on the radio. Patsy Kelly appeared on a number of diffent radio programs.

In 1936, Lyda Roberti replaced Thelma Todd in the series.with Patsy Kelly. Hal Roach announced her selection on the radio. Lyda Roberti also did some radio work. Here we see her with a CBS microphone.

Lyda Roberti selling beauty products on the radio.

Lyda Roberti suffered from heart disease and had to cut back on film work as a result. Her last radio broadcast was made two days before her death, with Al Jolson.

Laurel and Hardy also made some radio broadcasts in later years. Carole Landis, who became a star at the Roach studio, also made some radio programs and was famous for giving a sigh for the troops during a broadcast of "Command Performance" - something that was depicted in the movie FOUR JILLS IN A JEEP.

Carole Landis sighs for the troops, 1943

I don't know if any recordings of the radio work of Thelma Todd survive. Many of the old radio programs were done live instead of being recorded, and it isn't likely that many were recorded by listeners. Few people even had the apparatus to record sound at that time, although dictaphones were in use at some businesses and experiments were made with wire recording, as was mentioned in one of the Doc Savage stories. Commercial tape recorders were not available in this country until after World War II.

Some radio programs with the others still exsist. See the link at the bottom of this page.

* Toni Mannix was one of a number of people that Thelma Todd was around who allegedly had underworld connections. Her husband Eddie Mannix was an executive at MGM and was allegedly involved with the mob. Some people blamed the Mannixs for the death of George Reeves, who played "Superman" on fifties television, and whose death is usually called a "suicide".

Listen to Lyda Roberti radio broadcasts on the internet

Buy recordings of Zasu Pitts radio programs

Harry Langdon on the air:


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