It turns out that the famous 1920's/30's/40's actress, Zita Johann, is a Cousin of mine! Zita's Mother and my
Great Grandmother's Mother were first cousins, so she is my 2nd cousin twice removed to be exact and you can see how it all
links together here. There is a likeness, as you can see in the above morph and we have some original pictures of her as well as newspaper articles.
I am currently doing some more research on her as well as tracing my family tree with my Aunt who has been an amazing help.
Below is a current summary and a Bio for Zita Johann, which I will continue to update as I discover new information.
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was born in Deutsch Bentschek
on July 14, 1904. At the age of seven she moved to the United States and in high school she began to act in school plays.
In 1924 she debuted on Broadway in a Theater Guild production, and over the next several years established herself as a prominent
leading lady onstage.
Zita was a dark, intriguing leading lady who appeared in seven films of the early 1930's after enjoying success on the New
York stage where she was hailed as "the great white light of the American Theatre." Zita made her screen debut in a leading
role in D.W. Griffith's
last film, the extremely low-budgeted, uneven, but striking Depression-era document, "The Struggle"
(1931). The following year she played Helen Grosvenor, the Princess Anckesen-Amon, the role for which she is best remembered,
the woman that revived Egyptian high priest, Boris Karloff,
who is convinced is the reincarnation of his love from thousands of years ago in the poetic horror classic, "The Mummy"
Zita brought an appropriately haunted, vague quality to the role, but despite leads in several others films, including the
lively actioner,"Tiger Shark"
(1932), starring Edward G. Robinson
, late in 1933 she went to playing the title role in a poverty row drama, "The Sin of Nora Moran"
(1933), and after one more film Zita, who disliked Hollywood, returned to the stage to continue her career. Yet, in 1989
she went back to film acting and appeared as a librarian in the film "Raiders of the Living Dead."
Zita was in many Broadway productions from the mid 1920's to early 1940's. Some of them include "Dawn"
(1924) at the Sam H. Harris Theatre, "The Goat Song" (1926) at Theatre Guild, "Machinal"
(1928) starring alongside Clark Gable
at the Plymouth Theatre, "Troyka"
(1930) at the Hudson Theatre, "Uncle Vanya"
(1930) at the Booth Theatre, "Tomorrow and Tomorrow"
(1931) at the Henry Miller's Theatre that my Great Grandparents saw her in on tour in Chicago, "Panic"
(1935) with Orson Wells
at the Imperial Theatre, "Seven Keys To Baldpate"
(1935) at the National Theatre, "The Burning Deck"
(1940) at the Maxine Elliott's Theatre and "Broken Journey"
(1942) at the Henry Miller's Theatre.
She was married 2 times prior to her marriage to producer/actor John Houseman
(Jacques Haussmann) in 1929, but they too later divorced. She passed away in New York on September 17, 1993, although it
is often documented as September 20, 1993 that we believe, from what we have gathered, is incorrect.
Unfortunately, my family and I were not clearly aware of her relation to us or that she was still living, until after
her death, or we would have tried to contact and meet her since we lived in New Jersey at the time right near where she lived
out her life. Despite this, she will always be remembered as the original Helen Grosvenor in "The Mummy," which has been
remade numerous times since 1932.
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