The series that began with Zasu Pitts and Thelma Todd as a team would change over the years and the tail end of the series had a story that focused on Rosina Lawrence, who by that time had become a regular.
Pitts and Todd
HistoryRoach had previously paired Anita Garvin and Marion Byron together in 1928 and 1929 but only three films resulted. Both Pitts and Todd had been working with Roach in various short films and feature films previously. The duo worked together for 17 short films. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy made a guest appearance in Pitts and Todd's 1931 short On the Loose. The 1930 Leroy Shield song "Beautiful Lady" was used as the theme song for the Pitts and Todd films. The team's 1932 short film Show Business was directed by Jules White and was later re-worked as a Three Stooges Columbia short A Pain in the Pullman from 1936.
In mid-1933, ZaSu Pitts left the Hal Roach studios and Patsy Kelly was brought in as Thelma Todd's new partner. This team filmed 21 more short films together until Todd's death in 1935. The next pairing was Patsy Kelly and Pert Kelton for one short, and then Kelly and Lyda Roberti for two shorts and one feature film, Nobody's Baby. Roberti died in 1938 at age 31.
In 1941, ZaSu Pitts and Patsy Kelly made their only appearance together in the feature film Broadway Limited. The duo echo Laurel and Hardy in one sequence when sharing a bed with a baby and a leaking hot water bottle.
ZaSu Pitts and Thelma Todd
- Let’s Do Things (MGM, 1931)
- Catch As Catch Can (MGM, 1931)
- The Pajama Party (MGM, 1931)
- War Mamas (MGM, 1931)
- Seal Skins (MGM, 1932)
- On the Loose (MGM, 1932)
- Red Noses (MGM, 1932)
- Strictly Unreliable (MGM, 1932)
- The Old Bull (MGM, 1932)
- Show Business (MGM) (1932)
- Alum and Eve (MGM, 1932)
- The Soilers (MGM, 1932)
- Sneak Easily (MGM, 1933)
- Asleep In the Feet (MGM, 1933)
- Maids à la Mode (MGM, 1933)
- Bargain of the Century (MGM, 1933)
- One Track Minds (MGM, 1933, with Spanky McFarland)
Thelma Todd and Patsy Kelly
- Beauty and the Bus (MGM, 1933)
- Backs To Nature (MGM, 1933)
- Air Fright (MGM, 1933)
- Babes In the Goods (MGM, 1934)
- Soup and Fish (MGM, 1934)
- Maid In Hollywood (MGM, 1934)
- I’ll Be Suing You (MGM, 1934)
- Three Chumps Ahead (MGM, 1934)
- One Horse Farmers (MGM, 1934)
- Opened By Mistake (MGM, 1934)
- Done In Oil (MGM, 1934)
- Bum Voyage (MGM, 1934)
- Treasure Blues (MGM, 1935)
- Sing, Sister, Sing (MGM, 1935)
- The Tin Man (MGM, 1935)
- The Misses Stooge (MGM, 1935)
- Slightly Static (MGM, 1935)
- Twin Triplets (MGM, 1935)
- Hot Money (MGM, 1935)
- Top Flat (MGM, 1935)
- All American Toothache (MGM, 1935)
Patsy Kelly and Pert Kelton
- Pan Handlers (MGM, 1936)
Patsy Kelly and Lyda Roberti
- Hill Tillies (MGM, 1936)
- At Sea Ashore (MGM, 1936)
- Nobody’s Baby (MGM, 1937)
ZaSu Pitts and Patsy Kelly
- Broadway Limited (United Artists, 1941)
- ^ Maltin, Leonard (1970). Movie Comedy Teams. New York, NY: Signet Book. pp. p. 141. ISBN:0451044530.
- ^ Mitchell, Glenn (1998). A-Z Of Silent Film Comedy: An Illustrated Companion. London: Batsford. pp. p. 95. ISBN:0713479396.
- ^ Mitchell, Glenn (1995). The Laurel & Hardy Encyclopedia. London: Bath Press. pp. p. 186. ISBN:0713477113.
- ^ http://stoogeworld.com/_Videography/Filmography/PaininthePullman.htm
- ^ Solomon, Jon (2001). The Complete Three Stooges: The Official Filmography and Three Stooges Companion. Glendale, CA: Comedy III Productions, Inc.. pp. p. 88. ISBN:0971186804.
- ^ Mitchell, Glenn (1995). The Laurel & Hardy Encyclopedia. London: Bath Press. pp. p. 150. ISBN:0713477113.
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Zasu Pitts and Thelma Todd were a success at a time when some of Roach's other efforts to start a new series failed to catch on. But the demand for Zasu Pitts in features was so great that Roach couldn't afford to keep her in the series, leading to her being replaced with Patsy Kelly. This was something the studio arranged: Thelma Todd had no choice in the matter and in fact was gone on a trip to England to promote THE DEVIL'S BROTHER while the negotiations were going on. Thelma Todd would remain friends with Zasu Pitts after the switch.
The series with Patsy Kelly continued to be a success, but the replacement of Zasu Pitts with Patsy Kelly would have been seen as a something of a decline at the time. The series continued to be popular and was one of the more successful series at the Roach studio. There was some talk of using Thelma Todd and Patsy Kelly* in feature films during the later part of the series, but it was not to be, as Thelma Todd died while they were still turning out two-reelers. Patsy Kelly would make the feature KELLY THE SECOND in 1936: also in the cast was Pert Kelton, who would be paired with Kelly in the next two-reeler, PAN HANDLERS. Lyda Roberti was then teamed with Patsy Kelly in AT SEA ASHORE and HILL TILLIES, followed by the feature NOBODY'S BABY. There would be one more movie with Patsy Kelly and Lyda Roberti, PICK A STAR. Roberti's heart condition had begun to affect her career and she only had a few scenes in this movie: she would appear in only one more - WIDE OPEN FACES - in 1938. Rosina Lawrence, who had become a regular in the series, had a bigger part in this one. Roach evidently had big hopes for her, but later said that it just didn't work out.
BROADWAY LIMITED with Zasu Pitts and Patsy Kelly, had another blonde in it, Marjorie Woodworth. But she wasn't really supposed to be a member of a comedy team, she was just another cast member in the same movie.
Publicity photo for Thelma Todd around the time her series began with Zasu Pitts.
STRICTLY UNRELIABLE With Bud Jamison
WAR MAMMAS With Guinn "Big Boy" Williams
Set during the first World War, this would be the only film in the series not set during the period in which it was made.
Thelma Todd, Zasu Pitts, George Marshall
Director Gus Meins with Thelma Todd and Patsy Kelly. Note overhead microphone and fill light next to movie camera.
Thelma Todd, Patsy Kelly, and Gus Meins With Wind Machine
Birthday Party For Patsy Kelly
KELLY THE SECOND
KELLY THE SECOND featured Pert Kelton as well as Patsy Kelly.
Patsy Kelly and Pert Kelton went on to appear together in one two-reel comedy, PAN HANDLERS.
Rosina Lawrence was also in the cast of PAN HANDLERS: she would be back in NOBODY'S BABY and would have a major role in PICK A STAR.
Lyda Roberti And Patsy Kelly
Front row: Stan Laurel, Patsy Kelly, Oliver Hardy, Lyda Roberti. Back Row: Director Gus Meins and L.A. French, supervisor of the Laurel and Hardy company.
Lyda Roberti On The Set Of NOBODY'S BABY.
Patsy Kelly, Lyda Roberti, film director Gus Meins and
L.A. French, supervisor of the Laurel-H
PICK A STAR
Rosina Lawrence is billed above Lyda Roberti
Rosina Lawrence, Jack Haley, And Patsy Kelly
Lyda Roberti in a scene where she's being filmed in a scene as "Dagmar", the movie star.
Marjorie Woodworth at left, Patsy Kelly and Zasu Pitts at right.