Sylvia Sidney

Actor
During the Great Depression, actress Sylvia Sidney was said to possess the saddest eyes in Hollywood. The native New Yorker had only just debuted on Broadway when the movies lured her westward, where she cornered a ... Read more »
Born: 08/08/1910 in Bronx, New York, USA

Filmography

Actor (63)

Fantasy Island 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

Mars Attacks! 1996 (Movie)

Grandma Norris (Actor)

Diagnosis Murder 1988 - 1989, 1993 - 1994 (Tv Show)

Actor

Used People 1992 (Movie)

Becky (Actor)

Andre's Mother 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

Night of 100 Stars III 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

Dear John 1988 - 1989 (Tv Show)

Actor

Beetlejuice 1988 (Movie)

Juno (Actor)

Going Hollywood: The War Years 1987 (Movie)

Herself (Actor)

Morningstar/Eveningstar 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

Finnegan Begin Again 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

Copkiller 1982 (Movie)

Margaret Smith (Actor)

Hammett 1982 (Movie)

Donaldina Cameron (Actor)

WKRP in Cincinnati 1978 - 1982 (TV Show)

Actor

F.D.R. -- The Last Year 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)

Actor

Damien - Omen II 1978 (Movie)

Aunt Marion (Actor)

Siege 1977 - 1978 (TV Show)

Actor

Death at Love House 1976 - 1977 (TV Show)

Actor

I Never Promised You A Rose Garden 1977 (Movie)

Miss Coral (Actor)

God Told Me To 1976 (Movie)

Elizabeth Mullin (Actor)

Maureen 1975 - 1976 (TV Show)

Actor

Winner Take All 1974 - 1975 (TV Show)

Actor

Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams 1973 (Movie)

Rita's Mother (Actor)

The June Allyson Show 1959 - 1961 (TV Show)

Actor

Violent Saturday 1955 (Movie)

Elsie (Actor)

The Wagons Roll at Night 1940 (Movie)

Flo Lorraine (Actor)

Dead End 1936 (Movie)

Drina Gordon (Actor)

Sabotage 1936 (Movie)

Mrs. Verloc (Actor)

Fury 1935 (Movie)

Katherine Grant (Actor)

The Trail of the Lonesome Pine 1935 (Movie)

(Actor)

An American Tragedy 1930 (Movie)

Roberta Alden (Actor)

A Small Killing (TV Show)

Actor

Accent on Youth (Movie)

Linda Brown (Actor)

An Early Frost (TV Show)

Actor

Blood on the Sun (Movie)

Iris Hilliard (Actor)

Broadway Nights (Movie)

Herself (Actor)

City Streets (Movie)

Nan Cooley (Actor)

Come Along With Me (TV Show)

Actor

Confessions of a Co-Ed (Movie)

Patricia (Actor)

Good Dame (Movie)

Lillie Taylor (Actor)

Having It All (TV Show)

Actor

Kraft Television Theater (TV Show)

Actor

Love from a Stranger (Movie)

Cecily Harrington (Actor)

Make Me a Star (Movie)

Guest Star (Actor)

Merrily We Go to Hell (Movie)

Joan Prentice (Actor)

Mr. Ace (Movie)

Margaret Wyndham Chase (Actor)

Mr. Music (Movie)

(Actor)

Pals (TV Show)

Actor

Pick-Up (Movie)

Mary Richards (Actor)

Raid on Entebbe (TV Show)

Actor

Snowbeast (TV Show)

Actor

Street Scene (Movie)

Rose Maurrant (Actor)

The Gossip Columnist (TV Show)

Actor

The Miracle Man (Movie)

Helen Smith (Actor)

The Searching Wind (Movie)

Cassie Bowman (Actor)

The Secret Night Caller (TV Show)

Actor

The Shadow Box (TV Show)

Actor

The Witching of Ben Wagner (TV Show)

Actor

Thirty-Day Princess (Movie)

Nancy Lane/Princess Catterina Theodora Margerita Zizz (Actor)

Winner Take All (Movie)

(Actor)

You and Me (Movie)

Helen Dennis (Actor)

Biography

During the Great Depression, actress Sylvia Sidney was said to possess the saddest eyes in Hollywood. The native New Yorker had only just debuted on Broadway when the movies lured her westward, where she cornered a devalued market playing little ladies with big problems in "City Streets" (1930) and "An American Tragedy" (1930). Her real life love affair with Paramount executive B. P. Schulberg kept Sidney working but typecast as victims, prompting the actress to crack that the studio paid her by the tear. In time, she enjoyed more varied roles, among them "Madame Butterfly" (1932), while Fritz Lang made expressionistic use of her in "Fury" (1936) and "You Only Live Once" (1937). Acquiring the reputation in Hollywood for being choosy and difficult, Sidney found sanctuary on the stage, performing with the Group Theatre on Broadway and touring as Jane Eyre and Eliza Doolittle. Having weathered three failed marriages and all but given up on film, Sidney was drawn out of retirement to play Joanne Woodward's elderly mother in "Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams" (1973), for which she received an Oscar nomination. The attention propelled Sydney towards a comeback, in which the diminutive, weathered, yet wholly indomitable actress was a bracing presence in such films as "Damien: Omen II" (1978), "Beetlejuice" (1988), "Used People" (1992), and "Mars Attacks!" (1998). A lifelong smoker, Sydney succumbed to throat cancer in 1999, her death capping the picaresque career of a leading lady whose star shone brightest the farther she got from the camera.

Relationships

Luther Adler

Husband
married in 1938 divorced in 1946 father of Sidney's son Jacob/Jody

Jacob Adler

Son
born in October 1945 died of Lou Gehrig's disease in 1985

Carlton Alsop

Husband
married in 1947 divorced in 1951

Bennett Cerf

Husband
married in October 1935 divorced in 1936

Victor Kosow

Father
divorced Sidney's mother c. 1920

Rebecca Kosow

Mother
divorced from Sidney's father c. 1920 remarried to a dentist who adopted Sidney

Albert Sabin

Cousin
developer of oral polio vaccine

B Schulberg

Companion
head of Paramount Pictures had long-term romantic relationship in the 1930s

Sigmund Sidney

Step-Father
adopted Sidney

EDUCATION

Washington Irving High School

New York , New York
left to study with the Theatre Guild

Theatre Guild Drama School

New York , New York 1925
expelled

Milestones

1998

Appeared as a regular in the remake of the ABC series "Fantasy Island"

1996

Returned to features in Burton's "Mars Attacks!"

1995

Sustained injuries after being struck by a car

1992

Appeared alongside Shirley MacLaine in "Used People"

1990

Hospitalized with a near-fatal bronchial infection

1990

Honored by the Film Society of Lincoln Center

1990

Co-starred in the PBS drama "Andre's Mother"

1988

First collaboration with Tim Burton, played the gatekeeper of purgatory in "Beetlejuice"

1986

Was series regular on the short-lived CBS drama "Mornigstar/Eveningstar"

1985

Garnered second Emmy nomination as Aidan Quinn's understanding grandmother in the ground-breaking NBC TV-movie "An Early Frost"

1980

Portrayed a hospice resident in the TV-movie "The Shadow Box" (ABC), directed by Paul Newman

1977

Appeared in the docudrama "Raid on Entebbe" (NBC)

1976

Returned to Broadway in the short-lived "Me Jack, You Jill"

1975

Had recurring role on the ABC daytime drama "Ryan's Hope"

1973

Received Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Joanne Woodward's critical mother in "Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams"

1970

TV-movie debut, "Don Not Fold Spindle or Mutilate" (ABC)

1966

Assumed the role of Mrs. Banks in the Broadway play "Barefoot in the Park"; also toured in the part

1963

Had featured role in the Broadway production "Enter Laughing"

1962

Earned first Emmy Award nomination for guest appearance in "The Madman" episode of "The Defenders"

1958

Had title role in the touring company of "Aunti Mame"

1956

Last film for 17 years, "Behind the High Wall"

1955

Was a regular performer on the omnibus NBC series "Star Stage"

1952

Played Fantine in remake of "Les Miserables"

1951

Returned to Broadway in "The Fourposter"

1946

Starred opposite Robert Young and Ann Richards in the Lillian Hellman-scripted "The Searching Wind"

1944

Appeared alongside James Cagney in the melodrama "Blood on the Sun"

1941

Toured in the stage play "Angel Street"

1939

Last Broadway appearance for 11 years, "The Gentle People"; performed with the Group Theatre

1937

Played major role in "Dead End", directed by William Wyler

1936

Starred in Alfred Hitchcock's "Sabatoge"

1936

Appeared opposite Spencer Tracy in "Fury"; first of three films directed by Fritz Lang

1935

Starred as "Mary Burns, Fugitive"

1934

Paired with Cary Grant in "Thirty Day Princess", co-written by Preston Sturges

1932

Had title role in "Madame Butterfly"

1931

First of six films with director Marion Gering, "Jennie Gerhardt" and "Pick Up"

1931

Starred in film version of "An American Tragedy"

1931

Loaned to United Artists to appear in King Vidor's "Street Scene"

1930

Breakthrough stage role "Bad Girl"

1929

Film acting debut "Thru Different Eyes"

1927

Won acclaim as the ingenue in "Crime"

1926

Stage acting debut in "The Challenge of Youth" in Washington, DC

1926

Broadway debut, "The Squall"

Put under contract at Paramount

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