Sylvia Miles (born September 9, 1924) is an American film, stage, and television actress. She was twice nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performances in Midnight Cowboy (1969) and Farewell, My Lovely (1975).
Miles in 2007
September 9, 1924|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Alma mater||Actors Studio|
(m. 1952; div. 1960)
(m. 1963; div. 1970)
Miles was born in New York City and raised in Greenwich Village. It is believed her father worked there as a furniture maker. Her date of birth is September 9, however, her birth year has been alternately reported as 1932, 1934, and 1924. 1924 was listed as her birth year on an I-94 entry card from a 1962 flight Miles took from London to New York. Her parents, whose names she has stated were "Reuben and Belle", but Miles' birth name has not been made public.
In the early 1960s, Miles played the role of "Sally" in the pilot episode of what would become The Dick Van Dyke Show, which was later taken by Rose Marie for the series. She also appeared in two 1960s episodes of Naked City, including once as a lovely barfly attempting to communicate with a psychotic Jack Warden.
Miles was cast in the classic 1960s film, Midnight Cowboy, as an aging Park Avenue kept-woman who invites Joe Buck (Jon Voight) up to her penthouse apartment for sex. The role earned her an Oscar nomination in 1969 for Best Supporting Actress, despite appearing on-screen for about six minutes. She received a second Oscar nomination for her slightly larger role (eight minutes) as Best Supporting Actress in 1975 for her role in Farewell, My Lovely.
In 1978, Miles was given a cameo role in the Indian suspense film Shalimar. She appeared in the 1982 film version of Agatha Christie's Evil Under the Sun, portraying a Broadway producer, one of her more mainstream film roles. She played real estate agent Dolores in the Oliver Stone film Wall Street (1987), a role she would reprise in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010).
Over the years, Miles has become a cult figure, both for her ties to avant-garde personalities (including Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey) and her willingness to attend any public function. Wayland Flowers and his puppet Madame first uttered the widely quoted line "Sylvia Miles and Andy Warhol would attend the opening of an envelope." In 1976, People Magazine repeated the same joke without citing a source. Miles starred in Warhol's 1972 film Heat. She also was featured in mainstream films including 92 in the Shade, Critical Condition, The Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday, Crossing Delancey and the 1989 comedy She-Devil, in which she played the mother of Meryl Streep's character.
In a New York restaurant in 1973, Miles publicly dumped a plate of food onto critic John Simon's head for his negative comments about her in a film review. Miles has been less active since 1999, with a few roles on television such as Sex and the City and One Life to Live, and in the films Go Go Tales and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.
- Murder, Inc. (1960) - Sadie
- Parrish (1961) - Eileen
- Violent Midnight (1963) - Silvia
- Pie in the Sky (1964) - Rose
- akaTerror in the City
- Midnight Cowboy (1969) - Cass
- The Last Movie (1971) - Script Clerk
- Who Killed Mary What's 'Er Name? (1971) - Christine
- Heat (1972) - Sally Todd
- Farewell, My Lovely (1975) - Jessie Halstead Florian
- 92 in the Shade (1975) - Bella
- The Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday (1976) - Mike
- The Sentinel (1977) - Gerde Engstrom
- Zero to Sixty (1978) Flo Ames
- Shalimar (1978) - Countess Rashussen
- The Funhouse (1981) - Madame Zena
- Evil Under the Sun (1982) - Myra Gardener
- Critical Condition (1987) - Nurse Maggie Lesser
- Sleeping Beauty (1987) - Red Fairy
- Wall Street (1987) - Dolores the Realtor
- Crossing Delancey (1988) - Hannah Mandelbaum
- Spike of Bensonhurst (1988) - Congresswoman
- She-Devil (1989) - Mrs. Fisher
- Denise Calls Up (1995) - Sharon, Gail's Aunt
- The Boys Behind the Desk (2000)
- High Times' Potluck (2002) - Ma
- Rose's (2003) - Ms.P
- aka Confessions of a Florist
- Go Go Tales (2007) - Lilian Murray
- Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010) - Realtor
- IMMIGRATION I-94 FORM RE-ENTRY TO UNITED STATES FROM LONDON, UK, March 28, 1962 (via ancestry.com); accessed October 18, 2017.
- Judy Kessler. "What Would a Manhattan Party Be Without the Ubiquitous Sylvia Miles?", People Magazine, October 18, 1976, Vol. 6 No. 16
- Ancestry.com: New York State, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1917-1966 (March 28, 1962); accessed October 18, 2017.
- Stark, John (October 10, 1988). "Forget That Trinket in Her Right Hand—Actress Sylvia Miles' Biggest Fan Is Sylvia Miles". People. Archived from the original on December 31, 2016. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
- New York Times profile of Miles, nytimes.com, April 15, 1981; accessed January 1, 2017.
- Miles' profile, filmsite.org; accessed November 20, 2014.
- Gaines, Steven (May 20, 2010). "The Envelope Please". nymag.com. Archived from the original on June 26, 2015. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
- NPR website referencing John Simon-Sylvia Miles altercation, npr.org; accessed October 8, 2014.
- "Sylvia Miles ailing", pagesix.com, May 30, 2014; accessed October 8, 2014.