Zelda Sears, née Paldi (January 21, 1873 — February 19,
1935) was an American actress, screenwriter, novelist and businesswoman.
Sears joined a class in a dramatic school. She journeyed to
New York City with a letter of introduction to a New York theatrical manager.
Her initial opportunity in New York City was obtained through A.L. Erlanger.
She joined a ballet and earned $20 a week while also learning toe dancing. Her
first part was a very small one in a stock production of Sowing The Wind. She
played comic roles on stage, learned shorthand, and even opened her own
typewriting business. The impetus of her writing career occurred when her
landlady went on vacation to the mountains and Sears managed her boarding house
while she was away. She began to copy scientific articles for the noted
surgeon, Dr. William Bull. Sears observed life in his sanitarium and turned
what she saw into a fictional story, which she sold to a magazine. Readers
became privy to the inner workings of the institution by reading Zelda's The
Name Above The Door. Her income grew after several more short stories were
accepted for publication.
Dissatisfaction led Sears to return to Chicago, where she
joined the acting troupe of John Stapleton. Her first meaningful part came by
way of Harry Parker, who was general manager for William A. Brady. Sears' stage
career was further boosted by her acting in a production of Lovers Lane. Other
plays in which she appeared were Women and Wine, Girls, The Blue Mouse, Love
Among The Lions, The Girl He Couldn't Leave Behind Him, Keeping Up Appearances,
The Nest Egg, Standing Pat, The Truth, The Show Shop, The Scarlet Woman, and
In 1907 Sears was appearing in Baltimore in a play called
The Truth by Clyde Fitch. The star of the play was Clara Bloodgood who was best
friends with Sears. Bloodgood despondent about something concerning the play
and Fitch committed suicide in her hotel room.
Playwrights began to trust her to add dialogue to her roles
in stage productions. Sears learned to write stage speeches and construct
scenes. Over a period of eleven years she read more than one hundred plays. She
embellished ten of these for production. As a writer she benefited greatly from
her association with Clyde Fitch. Earlier he had cast her in
Lovers Lane. Sears wrote dialogue for theatrical shows like Lady Billy,
Cornered, The Clinging Vine, and The Magic Ring. She came to Hollywood to be a
scenarist for Cecil B. DeMille and MGM in the early 1930s. Sears co-wrote The
Divorcee, a 1930 American Pre-Code drama film along with Nick Grindé, and John
Meehan. She also appeared in it as "Hannah". She had a part in her
final film scenario, A Wicked Woman (1934).
Sears died at her Hollywood home in 1935, aged 62 from