Madeline Zima was born in New Haven, Connecticut, to parents Dennis and Marie, and is the sister of actresses Vanessa Zima and Yvonne Zima. “Zima”, a Polish surname, is her mother’s maiden name; Madeline’s maternal grandfather was of Polish descent, while her other ancestry is Italian, German, and Irish.
She has starred in TV films: The Secret Path (1999). Her sister, Yvonne Zima played the seven-year-old counterpart to her characters. She played the daughter of the late John Ritter and Marg Helgenberger on Lethal Vows (1999).
After a worldwide search, Madeline was the choice to play Lucille Ball as a teenager, in the CBS mini-series, Lucy (2003) (aka “Redhead”). She followed that up playing the wicked stepsister of Hilary Duff in A Cinderella Story (2004).
In a return to television, she agreed to play the mysterious and destructive character “Mia” on the hit Showtime series, Californication (2007).