Zelda Sears

Zelda Sears (née Paldi; January 21, 1873 — February 19, 1935) was an American actress, screenwriter, novelist and businesswoman.

Zelda Sears
Zelda Sears, vaudeville entertainer (SAYRE 9084).jpg
Born
Zelda Paldi

(1873-01-21)January 21, 1873
DiedFebruary 19, 1935(1935-02-19) (aged 62)
OccupationActress, writer
Years active1924-1934
Spouse(s)Herbert E. Sears (1892–1895)
Louis C. Wiswell (1918–1935)
Parents
  • Justin Lewis Paldi, (father)
  • Roxa Tyler (mother)

Early life and backgroundEdit

She was born as Zelda Paldi near Brockway Township, St. Clair County, Michigan, into a multi-lingual family that spoke French, Italian and English. Her father, Justin Lewis Paldi, was a first-generation Italian immigrant engineer and horse breeder, and her mother Roxa Tyler was of English heritage.[1][2][3]

Her entry into the job market at age 12 was borne out of a family financial crisis.[4] Merchant L.A. Sherman conducted an essay contest for his store's opening day, with Sears submitting the winning entry and being rewarded with a position as cash runner for the sales staff. In the evening hours, she educated herself on secretarial skills.[4] She was eventually promoted to the position of sales clerk. When she expressed an interest in writing, Sherman transferred her as a reporter on his newspaper the Port Huron Daily Times.[5]

In June 1889, at age 16, she made her acting debut as alternating roles in a Port Huron production of Esther at the City Opera House. Setting her sights on a newspaper career, she journeyed to Detroit, Michigan, with no luck finding a job, and then ventured to Chicago, Illinois.[5] While rooming at the Chicago YWCA, and waiting for her big break in the newspaper business, she worked for Longnecker and Company painting flowers on boxes. She earned extra money by selling her original greeting card verses.[6][7]

Acting and writing careersEdit

In 1892, she married actor Herbert E. Sears, and would continue to use his name professionally after the dissolution of their marriage three years later.[4] She got her foot in the door of the Chicago Herald newspaper by contributing to its humor column. When her father died, Sears began reading the numerous play scripts in his extensive personal library, adding to her already considerable interest in the profession.[8] Actress Sarah Bernhardt performed in at Chicago's Daly Theater in 1894,[9] and Sears initially set out to secure an interview with the star for the Herald. She ended up being hired as an extra in the production, changing the course of her professional life.[4] Later continuing with a local acting stock company, and honing her craft with Hart Conway's American Conservatory of Acting, she eventually relocated to New York. Producer A.L. Erlanger offered her a small role as one of the ballerinas, a skill she had to learn on the job, in the 1896 production of Jack and the Beanstalk at the Casino Theatre.[10] She spent the next few years expanding her skills with traveling stock companies.[11]

 
Scene from Anne Caldwell's The Nest Egg with Zelda Sears at the Park Theatre, Boston, Massachusetts, ca.1911

As she continued to pursue acting roles, Sears operated her own public stenography/typewriting service in New York, near the Empire Theatre on Broadway. Her clients were theatre people, playwrights. She soon developed into a proficient script doctor, with an eye towards becoming a playwright herself.[7] It was during her 1900 performance as the jealous murderess La Colombe in Wine and Women at the Boston Theatre, that she met her future collaborator, playwright Clyde Fitch.[12] He offered her a part in his new play Lover's Lane. While continuing her professional relationship with Fitch, including as his script doctor, she took a full-time job with theatrical producer Henry Wilson Savage. The company's vice president Louis C. Wiswell would eventually become her second husband.[13] Under Fitch's influence, performing in seven plays written by him, she began to develop the stage persona she would become most identified with, a spinster wise in years but eternally yearning for marriage. Journalist Ada Patterson would later proclaim Sears "The Greatest of Stage Old Maids".[14]

She began writing for films at the request of Cecil B. DeMille and MGM in the early 1920s, and continued to do so for more than a decade.[15][16]

DeathEdit

On August 6, 1918, Sears married her long-time friend Louis C. Wiswell.[17] She died at age 62 in her Hollywood home in 1935, from undisclosed causes. She was survived by Wiswell, and a sister, Marie Paldi.[18]

StageEdit

Partial listing:

Broadway credits of Zelda Sears
Year Title Theatre Notes Ref(s)
1889 Esther City Opera House (Port Huron) As Azila [5]
1889 La Dame aux Camélias Daily Theater (Chicago) Extra [9]
1896 Jack and the Beanstalk Casino Theatre As a ballerina [10]
1900 Woman and Wine The Boston Theatre As La Colombe. Written by Arthur Shirley and Benjamin Landeck [12]
1901 Lover's Lane Manhattan Theatre Written and staged by Clyde Fitch [19]
1903 Glad of It Savoy Theatre Written and staged by Clyde Fitch [20]
1904 The Coronet of the Duchess Garrick Theatre Written and staged by Clyde Fitch [21]
1905 Cousin Billy Criterion Theatre Written and directed by Clyde Fitch [22]
1907 The Truth Criterion Theatre, Lyceum Theatre Written and staged by Clyde Fitch. Sears played Mrs. Crespigny, reprised her performance in a 1914 production, and assumed the role again when the drama was adapted as a 1920 film of the same title. [23]
1908 Nearly a Hero Casino Theatre Mrs. Doolittle [24]
1908 Girls Daly's Theatre As Lucille Purcelle; written and staged by Clyde Fitch [25]
1909 The Blue Mouse Lyric Theatre
Maxine Elliott's Theatre
Replacement performer; written and staged by Clyde Fitch [26]
1909 Girls Hackett Theatre Revival, reprised her role as Lucille Purcelle [27]
1910 The Girl He Couldn't Leave Behind Garrick Theatre [28]
1910 Keeping Up Appearances Collier's Comedy Theatre [29]
1910 The Nest Egg Bijou Theatre Lead role as Hetty Gandy [30]
1914 The Truth Little Theatre Reprise performance as Mrs. Crespigny [31]
1915 The Show Shop Hudson Theatre [32]
1916 Fast and Grow Fat Globe Theatre [33]
1917 Captain Kidd, Jr. Cohan and Harris Theatre [34]
1917 Mary's Ankle Bijou Theatre [35]
1919 Tumble In Selwyn Theatre Aunt Selina [36]
1920 The Girl in the Limousine Empire Theatre Aunt Cicely [37]
1921 Lady Billy Liberty Theatre Musical based on a book by Sears; lyrics by Sears [38]
1923 The Clinging Vine Knickerbocker Theatre Musical, lyrics by Sears [39]
1923 The Magic Ring Liberty Theatre Musical based on a book by Sears; lyrics by Sears [40]
1924 Lollipop Knickerbocker Theatre Mrs. Gerrity, musical based on a book by Sears; lyrics by Sears [41]
1925 A Lucky Break Cort Theatre Playwright [42]
1926 Rainbow Rose Forrest Theatre Based on a story by Sears [43]

FilmographyEdit

Zelda Sears film credits
Year Title Role Writer Notes Ref(s)
1920 The Truth Mrs. Crespigny Silent film [44]
1921 The Highest Bidder Mrs. Steese Silent film [45]
1924 Cornered Silent film based on the 1920 play Cornered by Dodson Mitchell and Zelda Sears [46]
1926 The Clinging Vine Silent film based on the play The Clinging Vine by Zelda Sears [47][48]
1926 Corporal Kate X Silent film co-written with Marion Orth [49]
1926 The Cruise of the Jasper B X Silent film adaptation by Sears and Tay Garnett of the 1916 novel The Cruise of the Jasper B by Don Marquis [50]
1927 The Night Bride X Silent film adaptation [51]
1927 No Control X Silent film [52]
1927 Rubber Tires X Silent film adaptation by Sears and Tay Garnett [53]
1927 The Rush Hour X Silent film adaptation by Sears of March 1923 short story "The Azure Shore" by Frederic Hatton and Fanny Hatton in Harper's Bazaar [54]
1927 The Wise Wife X Silent film adaptation by Sears and Tay Garnett of the 1928 Arthur Somers Roche novel of the same name [55]
1929 Devil-May-Care X Dialogue [56]
1930 The Divorcee Hannah X Film treatment [57]
1930 The Bishop Murder Case Mrs. Otto [Miss] Drukker [58]
1930 Road to Paradise Sound remake of the 1924 silent film Cornered, both of which are based on the1920 play Cornered by Dodson Mitchell and Zelda Sears [59]
1931 Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise) X Dialogue [60]
1931 Politics X Story, with Malcolm Stuart Boylan [61]
1931 Daybreak X Continuity [62]
1931 Reducing X Continuity [63]
1931 Inspiration Pauline [64]
1932 New Morals for Old X Dialogue [65]
1932 Emma X Dialogue [66]
1932 Prosperity X Screenplay, with Eve Greene [67]
1933 Broadway to Hollywood X Sears and Harlan Thompson were brought in as Script doctors [68]
1933 Tugboat Annie X With Eve Green, adaptation of "Tugboat Annie " short stories by Norman Reilly Raine in The Saturday Evening Post [69]
1933 Beauty for Sale X With Eve Greene, screenplay [70]
1933 Day of Reckoning X With Eve Greene, screenplay [71]
1934 The Cat and the Fiddle X Sears and Eve Greene were brought in as script doctors [72]
1936 His Brother's Wife Sears and Eve Greene originally slated as writers, but are not credited in the final product [73]
1934 Operator 13 X With Eve Greene and Harvey Thew, screenplay [74]
1934 Sadie McKee Mrs. Craney [75]
1934 This Side of Heaven X With Eve Greene, adaptation of the 1932 novel It Happened One Day by Marjorie Bartholomew Paradis [76]
1934 A Wicked Woman Gram Teague X With Florence Ryerson, screenplay [77]
1934 You Can't Buy Everything X With Eve Greene, adaptation [78]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "She Is A Star". The Daily Herald at Newspapers.com. April 16, 1906. p. 1. Archived from the original on 2018-07-16. Retrieved July 16, 2018. 
  2. ^ "Paldi vs. Paldi". The Times Herald at Newspapers.com. January 13, 1891. p. 3. Archived from the original on 2018-07-16. Retrieved July 16, 2018. 
  3. ^ Marra 1995, p. 77.
  4. ^ a b c d Marra 1995, p. 78.
  5. ^ a b c "Miss Zelda Paldi Wins Additional Honors as a Star of the Footlights". The Times Herald at Newspapers.com. June 4, 1914. p. 2. Archived from the original on 2018-07-16. Retrieved July 16, 2018. 
  6. ^ Griffin, Mary (June 3, 1928). "Was Zelda Sears Born Under A Lucky Star? – She Thinks So!". Detroit Free Press at Newspapers.com. p. 1. Archived from the original on 2018-07-16. Retrieved July 16, 2018. 
  7. ^ a b Griffin, Mary (June 3, 1928). "Was Zelda Sears Born Under A Lucky Star (cont. from p.1)". Detroit Free Press at Newspapers.com. p. 4. Archived from the original on 2018-07-16. Retrieved July 16, 2018. 
  8. ^ Patterson, Ada (August 13, 1922). "From Milkmaid To Highest Paid Playwright". The Nebraska State Journal at Newspapers.com. p. 25. Retrieved July 16, 2018. 
  9. ^ a b "Bernhardt – La Dame aux Camélias". Chicago Tribune at Newspapers.com. July 1, 1894. p. 9. Archived from the original on 2018-07-16. Retrieved July 16, 2018. 
  10. ^ a b Marra 1995, p. 78-79.
  11. ^ Briscoe 1908, p. 34.
  12. ^ a b "Woman and Wine". The Boston Globe at Newspapers.com. August 31, 1900. p. 9. Archived from the original on 2018-07-16. Retrieved July 16, 2018. 
  13. ^ Marra 1995, p. 81.
  14. ^ Patterson, Ada (1911). "The Greatest of Stage Old Maids". Theatre Magazine. 13 v.: 127–128. Archived from the original on 2018-04-06. Retrieved 2019-01-14 – via HathiTrust.
  15. ^ "Not Flappers Only". The Los Angeles Times at Newspapers.com. April 18, 1926. p. 63. Archived from the original on 2018-07-16. Retrieved July 16, 2018. 
  16. ^ "The Pageant of the Films". The Los Angeles Times at Newspapers.com. March 23, 1934. p. 13. Archived from the original on 2018-07-16. Retrieved July 16, 2018. 
  17. ^ "Matrimonial: Zelda Sears Marries". The Times Herald at Newspapers.com. August 13, 1918. p. 2. Archived from the original on 2018-07-16. Retrieved July 16, 2018. 
  18. ^ "Play Writer Zelda Sears, Native of Michigan, Dies". Detroit Free Press at Newspapers.com. February 20, 1935. p. 14. Archived from the original on 2018-07-16. Retrieved July 16, 2018. 
  19. ^ "Lover's Lane". IBDB. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  20. ^ "Glad of It". IBDB. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  21. ^ "The Coronet of the Duchess". IBDB. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  22. ^ "Cousin Billy". IBDB. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  23. ^ "The Truth". IBDB. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  24. ^ "Nearly a Hero". IBDB. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on 2017-08-29. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  25. ^ "Girls". IBDB. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  26. ^ "The Blue Mouse". IBDB. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  27. ^ "Girls". IBDB. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  28. ^ "The Girl He Couldn't Leave Behind". IBDB. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  29. ^ "Keeping Up Appearances". IBDB. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  30. ^ "The Nest Egg". IBDB. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  31. ^ "The Truth". IBDB. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  32. ^ "The Show Shop". IBDB. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  33. ^ "Fast and Grow Fat". IBDB. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  34. ^ "Captain Kidd, Jr". IBDB. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  35. ^ "Mary's Ankle". IBDB. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  36. ^ "Tumble Inn". IBDB. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  37. ^ "The Girl in the Limousine". IBDB. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  38. ^ "Lady Billy". IBDB. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on 2018-04-26. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  39. ^ "The Clinging Vine". IBDB. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  40. ^ "The Magic Ring". IBDB. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on 2018-04-26. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  41. ^ "Lollipop". IBDB. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  42. ^ "A Lucky Break". IBDB. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  43. ^ "Rainbow Rose". IBDB. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  44. ^ "The Truth". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  45. ^ "The Highest Bidder". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  46. ^ "Cornered". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  47. ^ "The Clinging Vine". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  48. ^ "The Clinging Vine – Broadway Musical". IBDB. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  49. ^ "Corporal Kate". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  50. ^ "The Cruise of the Jasper B". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  51. ^ "The Night Bride". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  52. ^ "No Control". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  53. ^ "Rubber Tires". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  54. ^ "The Rush Hour". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  55. ^ "The Wise Wife". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  56. ^ "Devil-May-Care". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  57. ^ "The Divorcee". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  58. ^ "The Bishop Murder Case". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  59. ^ "Road to Paradise". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  60. ^ "Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise)". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  61. ^ "Politics". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  62. ^ "Daybreak". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  63. ^ "Reducing". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  64. ^ "Inspiration". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  65. ^ "New Morals for Old". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  66. ^ "Emma". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  67. ^ "Prosperity". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  68. ^ "Broadway to Hollywood". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  69. ^ "Tugboat Annie". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  70. ^ "Beauty For Sale". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  71. ^ "Day of Reckoning". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  72. ^ "The Cat and the Fiddle". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  73. ^ "His Brother's Wife". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  74. ^ "Operator 13". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  75. ^ "Sadie McKee". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  76. ^ "This Side of Heaven". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  77. ^ "A Wicked Woman". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  78. ^ "You Can't Buy Everything". AFI Catalog. Retrieved July 16, 2018.

SourcingEdit

External linksEdit