In the 1930s she was name above the title. By the late 1940s she was considered box office poison. What happened in the interim?
Well, Sylvia Sidney somehow got the reputation of being “difficult to work with.” It stuck, and damaged her career.
Born Sophia Kosow in the Bronx of a Russian mother and Romanian father, Sylvia made her stage debut at the age of 16, and appeared in her first movie (Thru Different Eyes) three years later. Her final appearance was in a 1998 credit, a year before her death at age 88.
She flourished with Paramount, which initially regarded her as a replacement for Clara Bow. Although the studio considered her a hot property, it kept shoehorning her into what she called “victim” parts, of which she had tired. Complicating things was a romance with a Paramount exec (B.P. Schulberg, father of novelist Bud) which cost him his marriage.
The truth is that Sylvia excelled in “victim” parts. She mastered the art of crying on cue, shedding copious tears from her large, attractive eyes. After departing from Paramount, she made her mark in a series of features that assure her cinematic immortality. No coincidence that the roles heavily emphasize ordeal and disaster.
Sidney enjoyed a long career (spanning nearly seven decades) propelled by her decision to become a supporting character actress and by her many and fruitful appearances on television.
So how much do you know about this durable actress? As usual our Quiz questions are posed today and answered tomorrow. Here we go:
1) Question: Sylvia worked with some of classic Hollywood’s finest directors. Which one of the following is NOT among this select group of Sidney collaborators? a) Alfred Hitchcock; b) Henry Hathaway; c) Fritz Lang; or d) George Stevens.
2) Question: Sidney was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar for her role in which one of the following titles? a) Damien — Omen II; b) Mars Attacks!; c) Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams; or d) The Trail of the Lonesome Pine.
3) Question: Sidney had a habit of marrying famous men. Her three husbands included which of the following? a) Bennett Cerf; b) Carlton Alsop; c) Luther Adler; or d) Tim Burton.
4) Question: Sidney was known for her unusual hobby. What was it? a) Juggling; b) Pole Dancing; c) Needlepoint; or d) Cigarette smoking.
5) Question: Sidney made many television appearances later in her career. Which one of the following series did she NOT appear in? a) WKRP in Cincinnati; b) Thirtysomething; c) Fantasy Island or d) Life With Father.