Zorita: vintage 8x10 photo
At nine months old, Zorita was adopted from a Youngstown, Ohio orphanage. When only four, her adoptive father died and her adoptive mother soon remarried, and her new step-father abused Zorita from the very beginning. Hence, to escape a tumultuous home-life, Zorita married when she was only 15 years old. The marriage did not last, and Zorita worked odd jobs to support herself. While working as a cigarette girl at the New York State Fair, she saw her first burlesque style show and became captivated by the dancer. Shortly thereafter, she made herself a costume and waltzed into a local club claiming to be the dancer from the fair, and landed her first burlesque job.
Zorita’s trademark name and dancing companion did not come until a little later in her career (mid-1930s). At that time she was working as a dancer at the San Diego California Pacific International Exposition. It was there that she befriended another Expo employee, who was a snake handler. At the end of the Exposition, he gifted her with a large indigo snake named Elmer, and she and Elmer moved to San Francisco. A theater owned in San Franciso hired her to do a veil dance and gave her the name Zorita, but after learning of her unique pet, he convinced her to work Elmer into her act….they rest, as they say, is history.
Life is a ticket to the greatest show on earth. ~Martin H. Fischer