Gladys Stout is the main villain of Disney's 2010 film The Search for Santa Paws, the spin-off prequel to Santa Buddies. She is the former headmistress of the girls' home. Ms. Stout finds anything that children like irritating, such as singing, pets, playing, and above all, anything to do with Christmas. She was portrayed by Wendi McLendon-Covey.
Despite her pretty looks (as well as perhaps being a strong-minded and independent young woman), Ms. Stout shows an ugly inside to her outer beauty because she has a highly developed personality of greed and selfishness as she treats the girls poorly, takes their things such as toys, and is extremely hateful and frightening towards them - all for personal gain. She does this so much that none of the girls have any courage to stand up to her or even rebel against her. Ms. Stout also loves herself and is incredibly vain and selfish, and lives in excessive self-indulgence, as shown by her opprobrium dealt towards children, and love of beauty treatments. Ms. Stout is also very ambitious to achieve her goals. She has a highly manipulative side, and even if she knows her actions are no good she is content to lie to and manipulate children for completely selfish reasons.
Nothing much is known about the reason as to why she dislikes anything that children love, though it may be suggested that she went through a similar process as the other girls did (an abusive childhood) or is possibly fed up with her job so much that she wants to do nothing but run away with her boyfriend, a dog catcher named Franklin, in hopes of arranging a quick marriage.
Aside from having (possibly stealing) a very large and comfortable bedroom and "salon" in the foster home, Ms. Stout also drives a 2003 Volkswagen New Beetle and shops at Bloomingdale's Department Store as evidenced by the bag in her hand when she encounters Santa and Paws.
Role in the film
Ms. Stout is first seen "welcoming" Quinn at the foster home on 46th Street, while explaining to Quinn her rules and had Will show her around. That same night, she scolds Santa for accidentally bumping into her. Back at the orphanage, she came into the room wondering what they had to hide from her; she rudely snatches a stuffed toy from a girl named Janie and it was mentioned that she confiscates toys and throws them (and other trash) into the incinerator. The next morning, she catches Quinn and Will outside after getting her hair done, blames Will for her irresponsibility and takes them to the basement where the incinerator is located. Will had to spend the night there due to her being the oldest. Ms. Stout then decided to give a patronizing speech to Quinn, where she berates Quinn about her irresponsibility but compliments herself.
While she was asleep in her large bed, wearing a spa mask and snoring after devouring a box of chocolates apparently given to her from Franklin, the girls sang with Santa Paws. Immediately, Ms. Stout burst in and discovered that not only were they singing, but that they were wearing dresses, the room being decorated with Christmas decorations, and that Paws was there. Quinn confesses that it was her who found Paws, but Ms. Stout does not believe her and sends Will and Paws to the basement. After telling Will that she was going to call the pound in the morning, she greedily took the magic crystal from Paws' collar upon being astounded by the intricate design and, overnight, it turned him back into a toy. The next day, she shows up with Franklin and was furious at Will thinking that she let Paws escape but turned into toy. She takes Paws (as a toy) and throws him into the incinerator while taking Quinn's late mom's Christmas angel as a souvenir for her room, she then laughs it all off while the children are afraid. In a deleted scene, she is given a new dress, thanks to the power of Paws' crystal.
Later on, after a trip to Coney Island, Ms. Stout and Franklin arrive back to the home, hoping to expect Will to open the door for them, only to be greeted by Mrs. Gibson who was informed by Eli Elf that the girls were left all alone that night and that Will and Quinn are missing. Ms. Stout lies to them saying she and Franklin were out looking for them; but Mrs. Gibson (apparently having learned about Ms. Stout's greedy intentions as well as her abusive actions from the other girls and maybe Eli himself) tells her that she is no longer permitted in the house, but she lets her off with a warning stating that if anything happens to the girls, she will be held directly accountable. In her defiance, Ms. Stout accidentally hits Franklin with her purse and falls down the steps, leaving their fate to be decided by the courts.
- She is similar to Miss Hannigan from Annie: they both worked at an orphanage even though they despised children. However, Ms. Stout was much more serious and threatening, while Miss Hannigan was more comical and slightly ditzy.